Friday, 11th September 2015
As Vietnam has become more well-known amongst tourists, "undiscovered" and "off-the-beaten-track" destinations have become harder and harder to find. Nevertheless, there are still areas of Vietnam as yet relatively untouched by mass tourism and InsideVietnam have a few favourites full of natural beauty and cultural charm.
Deep in the highlands of northern Vietnam, not too far from the border with China, Ba Be is a national park filled with misty lakes, dark caverns, remote villages and spectacular views. The park is best explored either on foot or by boat: there are some superb hiking trails to be enjoyed, and a trip down the river to the huge Phuong Cave and the waterfalls at Dau Dang is highly recommended. InsideVietnam Tours' Northern Vietnam Overland Adventure tailored itinerary concludes in Ba Be, after two weeks exploring the diversity of the northern highlands.
Cat Tien National Park (also known as Nam Cat Tien, after one of the smaller parks that was merged with Tay Cat Tien and Cat Loc to form the current protected area in 1998), is located 160 km (100 mi) northeast of Saigon, in the south of Vietnam. One of the last remaining refuges for wild populations of elephant, leopard and tiger, this is a wonderful place to see rare wildlife and enjoy the exotic atmosphere of one of Southeast Asia's last tracts of tropical jungle.
Experiences in Cat Tien include the night safari at the Forest Floor Eco Lodge, an exciting night-time wildlife adventure along the waterways of the Dong Nai River. InsideVietnam Tours include the experience on the ?Indochina Conservation' tailored journey, which combines Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
An hour's flight from Saigon, Con Dao offers hidden coves, a jungle-clad interior and charming, colonial towns. Despite its stunning white sand and brilliant blue waters fringed with rich green jungle, Con Dao's beaches are mercifully quiet, clean, and idyllic. Avoid the "official" Dam Trau Beach, which can be busy with visitors, and be sure to search out your own secret idyll, enjoying the spectacular drives to be had along Con Dao's coast roads.
InsideVietnam Tours' 'Luxury Vietnam' itinerary includes several days at the Six Sense Con Dao, but for those on a more modest budget, they can include Con Dao as part of any Fully Tailored Journey.
Mai Chau is a district located in rural Hòa Bình Province in the northwest of Vietnam, about 65km from the regional capital and about 160km from Hanoi. Whilst not exactly "off the beaten track", Mai Chau is a long way from Vietnam's big cities and makes a fantastic place to discover a little of rural life. Home to the Black Thai and White Thai tribes (whose ancestors settled here from Thailand), Mai Chau is known for its beautiful scenery - with lush mountains, lakes, and rice paddies which carve patterns in the hillsides - and makes a great location for hiking or cycling.
InsideVietnam recommend spending the night in one of the area's traditional stilt houses, where sleep on mats laid out on bamboo floors, try home-cooked Vietnamese meals and perhaps enjoy a traditional dance performance courtesy of your hosts. Mai Chau features on several of our tailored trips, including ?Vietnam Discovery' and ?Authentic Indochina'.
Encircled to the north by the Chinese border, the towering peaks, terraced hillsides and stilted villages of the Ha Giang region were long out of bounds to visitors. The construction of a new highway linking Hanoi to China has brought the region closer to the modern world - we recommend getting here soon before it catches on!
As one of the newest additions to the Vietnamese travel scene, Ha Giang has seen little development. Though this means that you'll likely be staying at very basic accommodation or bunking up at rural homestays, that's part of what makes the experience so special.
The 'Vietnam Adventure' tailored itinerary includes a stop in Ha Giang, before taking you south via some of our favourite destinations to end in Ho Chi Minh City.
NOTE TO EDITORS: InsideVietnam Tours (launched in 2013), InsideJapan Tours (launched in 2000) and InsideBurma Tours (launched in 2014) are run by a dedicated team of specialists, all of whom have first-hand experience of living, working or travelling extensively in Japan and/or Vietnam and/or Burma. The companies offer a range of original, carefully-curated and largely affordable packages for small groups and independent travellers.
InsideJapan, InsideVietnam and InsideBurma are part of InsideAsia Tours Ltd, an award-winning travel company offering group tours, tailored travel and cultural experiences across Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Burma.
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