Travel to Vietnam is not what it used to be – literally. New flight routes (including direct flights) connecting Vietnam to the world open every year; more charming hotels are being built or due to open in the next few years. The destination is changing as fast as it’s growing.
In terms of travel, we believe the most interesting part is not the fast-paced growth of the country, but what Vietnam has to offer and what makes a trip to Vietnam worthy. Below we’ve listed 5 of the most educational and unique travel experiences which could change your worldview while enjoying some of the most incredible moments, be it with your partner, your friends, or family.
- Trekking the mountainous area
If you ever google “Trekking in Vietnam,” you will see endless results with breathtaking pictures of the rice terraces and the colorful minority communities. Photos could be…misleading – it doesn’t mean that the landscape is not as beautiful as it is on the photos but because of the diversity of this region, the photos of Sapa could appear everywhere even when you search for other destinations. Keep in mind the mountainous area of Vietnam spans from East to West. Each of the provinces has its beauty and a specific time to visit so that you could see the best scenery it has to offer.
For travelers who love shining terraces, there are places to put into consideration, including Sapa, Hoang Su Phi, Mu Cang Chai, Mai Chau, and Pu Luong. For us, we love the impressive beauty of Mu Cang Chai and Hoang Su Phi. It could be said that they offer the best photography experiences of rice terraces in Vietnam.
For travelers who enjoy a bit of rocky scenery and off-the-beaten tracks, Ha Giang could satisfy your senses of adventure. It has multiple villages scattered along the mountains and valleys of Dong Van, Meo Vac, Yen Minh, and Quan Ba. The region has kept its stunning and untouched nature and is home to many ethnic minorities, including the Pupeo, the Lo Lo, the Dao, the H’mong and many more.
The surrounding areas boast massive limestone walls, granite outcrops, hanging valleys, rice terraces in the clouds and amazing roads carved into the mountainside.
There are so many lively and colorful festival that takes places in this area throughout the year. Definitely worth participating if you happen to be there whilst some festival is taking place.
- Cruising the Ha Long Bay / Lan Ha Bay
It’s not wrong saying that your trip to Vietnam is incomplete without a cruise trip around Ha Long Bay. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has three main areas: the main area, Bai Tu Long Bay, and Lan Ha Bay – the newly discovered bay. You can visit Ha Long Bay all year round but the best time is between September and November.
Ha Long Bay’s landscape is mesmerizing and there is a wide range of cruise options to choose from. We usually encourage our clients to enjoy a 2-night cruise instead of the popular option of 1-night for good reasons: travelers take a long flight to Vietnam, the bay is huge with plenty of beautiful spots, and the facilities on some cruise are just too good to leave early.
About the new area, Lan Ha Bay is located to the south and east of Cat Ba Island. This tranquil area is home to over 300 karst islands and limestone outcrops making this bay one of the most beautiful bays in Vietnam. Besides, Lan Ha Bay has the additional attraction of numerous white-sand beaches. Due to its distance from Halong City, this area is less known by travelers and there are few cruises operating here which helps keep its green and charming beauty. Staying on an overnight cruise, kayaking, or biking trips are among travelers’ favorite activities.
A glance of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
© Dennis Schmelz | 2019
- Train trip through South Central Vietnam
The landscape along the railway across Vietnam is amazingly beautiful yet the facilities on the train are basic, which makes train travel not popular in Vietnam. The good news is now we have a new option to consider; this train trip travels through South Central Vietnam starting from Hoi An to Quy Nhon – Vietnam’s hottest new luxury beach destination according to CNN.
During the 6-hour train, a three-course, pre-ordered meal, free-flow wines, beers and soft drinks, bar snacks and a 30-minute head and shoulder treatment are included. The carriage boasts sleek-lined modern interiors, big picture windows and large comfy seats, while a sit-up bar offers a change of scenery and the chance to enjoy local craft beers, wines and snacks over conversation with friends, before the main culinary experience.
The train passes through local villages, rural countryside and gives you a truly lovely train experience in Vietnam.
- Participate in a turtle conservation project while enjoying one of Vietnam’s topnotch resorts.
Con Dao National Park is situated in the Con Dao archipelago, 1 hour flight from Ho Chi Minh City and is best known for its diverse ecosystem and crystal clear waters. Many colourful species of coral, endemic flora and fauna, marine turtles (Green turtles and Hawkbill turtles), dolphins and endangered dugong are all found here. The most beautiful time to visit the park falls between March and November. Take a two – hour trek through thick forests and mangroves, past the hilltop stream to Bamboo Lagoon for a stunning view. One of the most memorable experiences is to see turtles giving birth. Marine turtles lay about 100 eggs at a time, usually in mid-August. 40 to 60 days later the eggs hatch and the struggle to survive begins for hundreds of baby turtles.
While in Con Dao, travelers can consider staying at Six Senses Con Dao which is the best accommodation there. It is contemporary in design, yet draws on the essence of a traditional fishing village.
- “Local” is the New Luxury
If luxury travel usually includes stays at international 5-star hotels or deluxe meals at Michelin star restaurants, we are seeing more luxury travelers looking for local experiences to make their trip as “real” as possible. After more than 15 years working in the industry, we have seen the shifting of luxury travel from focusing on staying experiences to meaningful experiences.
During the past 5 years, we have planned trips for hundreds of individuals who request “unique local experiences” and local boutique hotels. There are trips with the budget up to 10,000USD (just so you know the average cost of a two-week trip to Vietnam staying at 5-star hotels is around 3,000USD / person – international flight is not included). From this perspective, luxury travel still keeps its core products such as 5-star accommodations, limousine transfers, delicious meals, etc. but the personal and local touches gradually join the family and are expected at a different level.
A lot of our travelers love riding behind the back a vintage Vespa winding through the alleyways of Saigon or an afternoon tea with a Hanoian family in the Old Quarter. Some local food may sound adventurous at the beginning, but its taste could make you miss Vietnam, even more, when you are back home. An outstanding example is the unique Egg Coffee or…Egg Beer.
According to the Cambridge dictionary, the word “luxury” means (1) great comfort, especially as provided by expensive and beautiful things (2) something that gives you a lot of pleasure but cannot be done often. In Travel, we believe you can skip the “expensive” element by picking a destination where you can comfortably enjoy a beautiful experience which will give you a lot of pleasure that won’t happen regularly – it is luxury.
Let Vietnam be that destination.
Read our blog about the best time to travel to Vietnam at the link.