Vietnam forests and natural landscapes to visit


Vietnam is a treasure trove of spectacular natural landscapes, which can be overwhelming for visitors to choose from if you’re planning a future hiking or climbing trip here.

From hiking up Cat Ba National Park’s limestone hills to sailing in Ba Be Lake’s clear waters, we’ve picked out some of Vietnam’s forests, mountains,  and other natural attractions with the most breathtaking scenery to help you make the most of your adventure.


1. Đắk Nông Geopark – a UNESCO-recognized Global Geopark


vietnam natural landscapes_Dak Nong Geopark
Image credit: Dak Nong Geopark

Located in Dak Nong Province in the Central Highlands, Dak Nong Geopark is home to a wealth of sedimentary rocks, 65 waterfalls, and 50 natural caves, impact craters, and signs of prehistoric human activity.

It’s also home to the longest lava cave in Southeast Asia which boasts a length of nearly 1,100M.

vietnam natural landscapes_Dak Nong GeoparkLieng Nung waterfall
Image adapted from: Dak Nong Geopark

The park’s 4,700 square kilometers occupy about 75% of Dak Nong Province’s natural land. Here, you can trek to the 30-meter Lieng Nung waterfall surrounded by stunning rock structures and forests, an extensive network of caves, volcanic crater lakes, and watch ethnic cultural performances.

vietnam natural landscapes_Dak Nong Geopark
Inside a lava tube cave formed by volcanic activity
Image credit: Dak Nong Geopark 

Home to a variety of flora and fauna, Dak Nong Geopark is set to become a go-to spot for a relaxing and educational outdoor experience for both local and international travellers.

vietnam natural landscapes_Dak Nong Geopark
Ethnic artists performing the telling of H’mong myths
Image credit: vietnamnet.vn

On 7th July this year, Dak Nong Geopark was recognized as a member of UNESCO’s Global Geoparks Network, and will be a future site for promoting sustainable development, education, conservation, and geotourism.

The best way to visit is by motorbike, and accommodation is available at Dak Nong Committee Guesthouse (Nhà Khách Tỉnh Ủy Đắk Nông) or Saigon – Dak Nong Hotel.

Plan to spend at least 2 nights in the area to make the most of your visit, and check out Freedom Green Village for a taste of rural countryside life.

vietnam natural landscapes_Dak Nong Geopark
Image credit: Freedom Green Village

During your stay here, you can engage in many agricultural activities such as planting trees, harvesting fruits and vegetables, as well as cooking meals using the most basic ingredients and simple utensils.

When in Dak Nong, you can try some of the province’s most beloved specialties, such as crystal-eyed catfish, rice cooked in bamboo, and forest leaf hotpot.

vietnam natural landscapes_Dak Nong Geopark
Image credit: Freedom Green Village

How to get here

By bus

Dak Nong Province doesn’t have an airport, which means those who travel by air will need to get to Buon Ma Thuot in Dak Lak Province first, and then take a bus to Dak Nong Province, which is 135KM away.

From Buon Ma Thuot Bus Station, take a 3-hour bus ride to Gia Nghia Bus Station in Dak Nong, which is around VND80,000-VND420,000 (~USD3.45-USD18.12) per ride. After alighting at Gia Nghia Bus Station, take a 10-minute cab ride to Dak Nong Geopark Information Center.

For more information on means of transportation and commuting fares in the area, check out vexere.com.

By motorbike

From Gia Nghia Bus Station, you can take a cab to 126 Tong Duy Tan Street or 4 Quang Trung Street to rent a motorbike. The rental cost per day is between VND80,000-VND200,000 (~USD3.45-USD8.63).

After that, ride to Dak Nong Geopark Information Center to consult the center staff there for further information about tours available.

Address: 23/3 Road, Nghia Trung Ward, Gia Nghia, Dak Nong Province
Opening hours: 8AM-5PM, Daily
Admission fee: VND80,000 (~USD3.45) per adult, VND50,000 (~USD2.16) per child

Website


2. Cat Ba National Park – trekking, cycling, caving, and fishing all on one island


vietnam natural landscapes_Cat Ba National Park
View over Cat Ba National Park from the Kim Giao-Ngu Lam Peak

For those who want to trek, cycle, and fish in one national park adventure, Cat Ba National Park’s island location is perfect for you. Just 15 minutes’ drive from Cat Ba coastal town’s city center, Cat Ba National Park spans 263 square kilometers of land and inshore water.

It’s home to plentiful natural caves, pristine hiking trails, over 1,500 species of plants, and over 282 animal species such as macaques, deers, and civets. This is also where prehistoric human skeletons which date back to 6,000 or 7,000 years ago were unearthed.

vietnam natural landscapes_Cat Ba National Park

Visitors who plan to spend half a day in the park, which includes the UNESCO-recognized Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve, can embark on a 2-hour trekking tour to Kim Giao-Ngu Lam peak where they can enjoy a spectacular view over the vast green forest.

Watch out for sharp rocks and many narrow paths along the trail, and make sure you put on comfortable clothes and shoes.

vietnam natural landscapes_Cat Ba National Park

Bring at least 2 bottles of water to stay hydrated, since there are no water sources along the trails.

Outdoor enthusiasts with more trekking experience and stamina can dedicate a full day to visit Viet Hai Fishing Village, which is best carried out with a tour guide, where they can hike for 9KM in the pristine jungle, cycle around in a serene atmosphere, and fish in emerald waters.

vietnam natural landscapes_Cat Ba National Park
Spectacular outlook from the peak of Kim Giao – Ngu Lam mountain 

Detailed maps and informative tours of the park can be purchased at the information office at the park’s entrance.

vietnam natural landscapes_Cat Ba National Park

To get to the park from Cat Ba’s city center, take a 15-minute cab ride to Cat Ba National Park, which costs about VND150,000 (~USD6.47).

Buses are also a popular means of transportation in Cat Ba Town, but waiting time for buses between the city center and the park can take hours due to unpredictable bus frequencies.

For more tips on planning a trip to the Cat Ba and Lan Ha Bay area, check out our article here.

Address: Cat Ba National Park, Cat Ba Town, Hai Phong
Opening hours: 8AM-5PM, Daily
Admission fee: VND80,000 (~USD3.45) per adult, VND50,000 (~USD2.16) per child

Website


3. Lao Than Mountain – a trek through the clouds


vietnam natural landscapes_Lao Than peak
Image credit: Viettrekking

Lao Than Mountain sits on an altitude of 2,860M above sea level, and is considered the roof of Y Ty Ward in Lao Cai Province in the north of Vietnam.

The 20KM trek to the mountain is best done in 2 days, during which travellers will navigate winding passes and some grassy trails filled with thorny bushes. Bring your best protective shoes and socks, as these plants can easily scratch your legs. Aside from that, the trek is mostly flat, scenic, and enjoyable for even unseasoned trekkers.

Vietnam natural attraction_Lao Than peak
Image adapted from: Viettrekking

A popular pit stop is located at an empty area near a cave, where trekkers can recharge and spend the night. Remember to bring lots of water with you because the nearest source of water is about a 30-minute walk away from the pit stop, and can run dry during the dry season from November to early May.

Vietnam natural attraction_Lao Than peak
Image adapted from: Viettrekking

The arduous hike is worth it for many. Upon reaching the peak, trekkers will be blown away with the view of a carpet of clouds covering the entire city.

Vietnam natural attraction_Lao Than peak
Image adapted from: Viettrekking

The trek has a maze of turns and can be difficult to navigate for new trekkers, so it’s better to travel with a group or with the assistance of a local guide. For a safe and convenient trek, you can check out the tours provided by Viettrekking, priced at VND4,000,000 (~USD172.83) or A21 Travel for VND1,950,000 (~USD84.26).

How to get there

From Hanoi, board an overnight bus at Mỹ Đình Bus Station to go to Sapa, which will take about 5 to 6 hours. The bus ticket costs around VND200,000-VND680,000 (~USD8.64-SD29.38).

For a more scenic and serene ride, get onboard a train from Hanoi Train Station to go to Sapa in Lao Cai. The train ticket is from VND530,000 (~USD22.90) and the travelling time is about 6 hours.

Then from Sapa’s city center, hop on a cab or a motorbike for a 2-hour ride to the foot of Lảo Thẩn mountain.

Address: Y Tý, Cốc Mỳ, Bát Xát District, Lào Cai


4. Lung Cung Mountain – diverse terrain and spectacular scenery for hikers


Vietnam natural landscape_Lùng Cúng Mountain
Image credit: @shjjva 

Rising high above the fog and looking like a lush floating island in the clouds, Lung Cung Mountain soars to more than 2,913 meters above sea level.

Located 250KM away from Hanoi, Lung Cung Mountain boasts a scenic trekking route trailing across a diverse terrain, such as grass hills, jungles, and bamboo forests. Home to only 300 households of families of different ethnicities including Thai and Kinh, the mountain offers a high level of cultural diversity in the local food and ways of life.

Vietnam natural landscape_Lùng Cúng Mountain
Image credit: @shjjva 

To reach the peak of Lung Cung Mountain, you’ll trek across plenty of gorgeous landscapes typical of Vietnam’s northwest region, such as terraced rice fields running towards the horizon, ethnic villages, Ta Co Y valley, and Mu Cang Chai.

Vietnam natural landscape_Lùng Cúng Mountain
View over Mu Cang Chai
Image credit: @leethanhhaf

Trekkers can choose from 3 different starting points to ascend the mountain, including Thao Chua Cai, Tu San Village, and Lung Cung village. Upon reaching the peak, you’ll see an ethereal sea of clouds that’ll make a memorable photo op.

Vietnam natural landscape_Lùng Cúng Mountain
Image adapted from: Go Trekking – Hội những người thích leo núi Việt Nam

The best time to visit is in March and April, when the trails are accompanied by a myriad of apple trees, purple flower fields, as well as Mexican sunflowers covering the hillsides.

Vietnam natural landscape_Lùng Cúng Mountain
Image credit: @rodolfogarciaconvers1 

Try not to come over in May and August, which often bring sudden downpours and cause the roads to be muddy and slippery.

Vietnam natural landscape_Lùng Cúng Mountain
Image credit: Travel Up

That’s because Lung Cung Mountain is nestled deep inside the mountainous ward of Nam Co, so travellers will have to endure a bumpy and dangerous ride before reaching the foot of the mountain that is best attempted with an experienced guide.

Over the entire trekking journey that can take 2 days, such a tour guide can also help you communicate with the local residents here, many of whom do not speak the Vietnamese language.

Those who are interested in conquering this trek with a tour provider can check out the services of Viettrekking, priced at VND4,000,000 (~USD172.83) or Travel Up for VND2,790,000 (~USD120.35) 

How to get there

By motorbike

From Hanoi, ride on National Road 32 towards the directions of Thanh Thuy, Thanh Son, Thu Cuc, Van Chan, and Nghia Lo, until you reach Mu Cang Chai.

This route is about 300KM long, fairly flat and filled with direction signs, so it’s not too difficult to navigate.

Address: Nam Co, Mu Cang Chai Ward, Yen Bai Province


5. Yen Tu Mountain – a tranquil Buddhist landmark accessible by cable car


Vietnam natural landscape_Yen Tu Mountain
The view from the mountain top
Image credit: Wikipedia

Located 150KM away from Hanoi, Yen Tu Mountain is a famous Buddhist landmark lying at the border of Quang Ninh and Bac Giang Provinces.

Dotted around the mountains are plenty of spiritual landmarks, including the Tay Yen Tu Nature Reserve, home to untouched forests and valleys, and the Tran Dynasty Historical Site, where the mausoleum of Emperor Tran Hien Tong (1319-1341) and many archaeological excavation sites are located.

Vietnam natural landscape_Yen Tu Mountain
Image credit:@nhaly0102

You can visit a variety of Buddhist monasteries in this large site, such as Truc Lam monastery, Hoa Yen, Van Tieu, and Dong Pagodas built in the reign of Emperor Tran Nhan Tong (1258-1308) and the Le Dynasty (1428-1789). This peak is also the cradle of Vietnam’s traditional Truc Lam Buddhism.

Vietnam natural landscape_Yen Tu Mountain
Image credit:@iam_meomeo

Start your journey on the winding footpath through the jungles leading to Dong Pagoda at the mountain top. The 6,000M, 6-hour walk can be strenuous, but the view awaiting patient trekkers at the 1,000M-tall mountain top cannot be more rewarding.

Vietnam natural landscape_Yen Tu Mountain
The path to the mountain top is winding and blanketed with clouds
Image credit: @jesseminh

At the mountain top, fittingly named Bach Van Son, meaning the Mountain of White Clouds, visitors will be immersed in swirling white clouds.

Those who can’t handle the long walk can choose to ride a cable car instead, which costs VND100,000 (~USD4.31) for a one-way ride.

Vietnam natural landscape_Yen Tu Mountain
Image credit: Tripadvisor

With picturesque views and tranquil retreats, Yen Tu Mountain makes for an idyllic place to enjoy nature and explore spiritual and historical gems at the same time.

Vietnam natural landscape_Yen Tu Mountain
A 700-year-old tree on Yen Tu Mountain
Image credit: Wikipedia

How to get there

Yen Tu Mountain is 130KM away from Hanoi, which is about 2 or 3 hours’ drive depending on your driving speed.

By motorbike

From Hanoi, ride on National Road 5 towards Quan Toan in Hai Phong, after which you continue towards Kien Bridge, National Road 10, and National Road 18 until you reach Uong Bi City. At the entry point, you’ll see a directional sign guiding you to Yen Tu.

By bus

From the center of Hanoi, hop on any Hanoi-Ha Long bus or van to travel to Ha Long City, which is about 150KM away. The traveling time is about 3 to 4 hours and bus fare is from VND100,000-VND280,000 (~USD4.31-USD12.08) per ride. Tell the driver to drop you off at Trinh Pagoda, which is along the way. From the pagoda, catch a bus at the intersection of National Road 18 nearby to go to Yên Tử mountain, which is about 27 minutes’ drive away.

For further information about the pick-up and drop-off points as well as transportation fare, visit vexere.com.

Address: Yen Tu Mountain, Dong Trieu mountain range, Quang Ninh Province and Bac Giang Province


6. Lang Biang Peak – the highest point of Lam Dong Province


Vietnam natural landscape_Lang Biang Mountain
Image credit: @0__pic_m

Saigon residents often head to Da Lat for weekend trips, to take a stroll amid colorful flower gardens and hike on lush mountains filled with pine trees in the cool weather. A getaway trip to Da Lat, 300KM away from Saigon, would not be complete without a visit to the peak of Lang Biang Mountain, where visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of the highlands.

Depending on your fitness level, you can opt to hop on a 15-minute-ride jeep which will take you to the peak, or trek the uphill path lined with towering pine trees and filled with wild scenery.

Vietnam natural landscape_Lang Biang Mountain
Image credit: @j.u.s.t_n.v 

The quiet and scenic trekking route will lead you through strawberry fields, greenhouses, and a coffee plantation, which are the beautiful sights that visitors sitting in jeeps won’t get to see. The trail is not strenuous or dangerous, but can get steep and narrow, and muddy in the wet season.

Vietnam natural landscape_Lang Biang Mountain
The walking trail starts at Son Cuoc Quan, a dining stall near the entrance gate
Image credit: Google Maps

The walk can take up to 3 hours for slow walkers, so make sure you bring enough water to stay hydrated and come back to the bottom of the mountain before sunset. Stay away from the winding main road, which is reserved for jeeps running at full speed.

Vietnam natural landscape_Lang Biang Mountain
The route for jeeps up the mountain
Image credit: @marinazaliotina

How to get there

Just 12KM off the center of Da Lat, you can reach the foot of Lang Biang Mountain by motorbike or taxi. You can park your vehicle at the Lang Biang site, or arrange with your driver to wait for you at the entrance until you finish your hike, because it’s not easy to get a cab or a GrabBike in the area.

Those who are not in a hurry can take a bus from Dalat Bus Station near the central market to the Lang Biang mountain site. This bus departs between 6AM-5PM every day and drops you off right at the mountain site entrance. Each bus ticket costs only VND12,000 (~USD0.52) per person, and the travelling time can be up to an hour.

Address: Lac Duong Town, Da Lat
Admission fee: VND20,000 (~USD0.86) per person


7. Na Ka Plum Valley – picturesque flower valley blooming in white


Vietnam natural landscape_Na Ka valley
Image credit: @toet.ngo

Situated 20KM away from the center of Moc Chau, Na Ka Plum Valley is a popular tourist attraction among youth as well as couples taking wedding photos because of its alluring rural landscapes.

Vietnam natural landscape_Na Ka valley
Image credit: @letrungtoan2905

Extending towards the horizon, the entire valley shines in white as its plum flowers go into full bloom in early spring.

Vietnam natural landscape_Na Ka valley
Image credit: @thi.maddd

In May, a plum picking festival is held and visitors can join plum picking competitions, and watch plum display competitions as well as ethnic cultural performances.

Vietnam natural landscape_Na Ka valley
Image adapted from: @lucypham1168

The valley’s terrain is thoroughly flat, perfect for a stroll along the scenic roads bordered with plum trees or a biking journey around the winding plum gardens.

Vietnam natural landscape_Na Ka valley
Image credit: @_juliee67 

You can also choose to camp in local campsites here if you bring camping tools and food.

How to get there

From the center of Moc Chau District, ride towards National Route 43 and Road 104, sticking to the trail for about 45 minutes until you see a valley filled with white plum flowers.

Address: Moc Chau District, Moc Chau Town
Admission fee: VND20,000-VND30,000 (~USD8.62-USD12.94) per person


8. Pha Luong Peak – walk the Vietnam-Laos border


Vietnam natural landscape_Pha Luong peak
Image credit: @nikki.la.3105

Sitting on a height of 2,000M above sea level and 30KM away from the center of Moc Chau Town, Pha Luong Peak is considered the roof of Moc Châu. It’s also situated on the border of Vietnam and Laos.

The hike from the foot of the mountain to the peak is only 4 to 5 hours, filled with a plethora of scenic landscapes and mystical beauty. The hiking trail has steep paths bordered with towering trees, so you should put on comfortable shoes, clothes, and bring a stick for a steadier hike.

Vietnam natural landscape_Pha Luong peak
Image credit: @minhminh0820

As you ascend, you will slowly see the winding mountain ranges, pristine forests, and a myriad of rural villages in both Vietnam and Laos nestled in the valleys.

The peak seems to rise out of the clouds, and the vertical cliffs that surround it only add to its grandiose appearance.

Vietnam natural landscape_Pha Luong peak
Image adapted from: Tripadvisor/Tony L

Make sure you bring your ID or passport with you, as you’ll need to present identification at the border post at the mountain’s foot before you can ascend.

Accommodation is available in Moc Chau town, about 30KM and 1 hour’s drive away at Muong Thanh Luxury Moc Chau Hotel or Moc Chau Arena Village.

There’s no restaurant or coffee house near the mountain, so you’ll need to bring your own food and beverage to recharge on the spot. Otherwise, you can get your post-hike meal delivered to the border post at the foot of the mountain by ordering from Mr Xuan at 0983 891 155 in advance. He’s a local resident who cooks and drops off home-cooked meals at Pha Luong mountain for hikers.

Those hoping to chow down local specialties such as smoked buffalo meat (thịt trâu gác bếp), deep-fried calf (bê chao), or forest bamboo shoots (măng rừng) should go to the restaurants inside Moc Chau Town.

How to get there

Board a 3-hour bus from Hanoi to Moc Chau Town, which is 180KM away. The bus ticket costs around VND130,000-VND160,000 (~USD5.61-USD6.90). 

From the center of Moc Chau Town, take a cab or a motorbike to ride to the foot of Pha Luong mountain, which is about 50KM and 1 hour’s drive away. Ride on National Route 43 for the first 20KM, turn to Muong Ve, then ride for another 17KM until you reach the Long Sap border post, which is also the foot of the Pha Luong mountain.

Address: Pha Luông Mountain, Moc Chau Town


9. Tea plantation in Moc Chau – for a relaxing walk


Vietnam natural landscape_tea plantation
Image credit: @hnnprr

Designed in the shape of a heart, the oolong tea plantation in Moc Chau Town is fittingly called the “heart-shaped tea plantation”, or Đồi Chè Trái Tim. Coupled with the unique shapes of the tea hedges is the glowing shade of green covering the vast area, which makes you feel as if you’ve stepped into a scenic painting. 

This tea plantation doubles as a relaxing outdoor space full of photo ops, suitable for family vacations as well as solo travellers simply looking for a place to unwind.

Vietnam natural landscape_tea plantation
Image credit: @riii.43 

When visiting the tea plantation at the Moc Suong Ecological Tourism Zone, you can engage in agricultural activities such as picking leaves, learning how to brew oolong tea with local farmers, tasting food made from oolong leaves, as well as bathing in tea leaves.

Vietnam natural landscape_tea plantation
Image credit: @ranran.98

After half a day of touring the plantation, you can sit down to a meal at the nearest restaurants which are within the 9KM parameter, such as Dong Hai Moc Chau restaurant, Tuan Gu restaurant, or Quan 64 Moc Chau.

Vietnam natural landscape_Moc Chau restaurant
Local specialties such as deep-fried calf, braised buffalo meat, stream fishes, and fried eggs served in Quan 64 Moc Chau
Image credit: Quan 64 Moc Chau

You can also check out accommodation near the plantation for a convenient trip, which include V House Moc Chau and Garden Rose Moc Chau.

To spare the hassle and pressure of travelling all by yourself when you’re not well-versed with the geography here, you can check out a tour to the tea plantations here operated by VietSense Travel from only VND990,000 (~USD42.71) per person.

How to get there

There are 3 heart-shaped tea plantations in Moc Chau Town you can go to, but the largest one is Tan Lap 3 Heart-shaped Tea Plantation, which spans across 70 hectares.

From O Long Moc Suong plantation in Lot 34, ride for another 1KM until you reach an intersection, turn left and ride towards Yen Thon garden. Keep to this narrow road until you reach the peak of a hill, which is Tan Lap 3 Heart-shaped Tea Plantation.

Address: Lot 34 (Tiểu khu 34), Tan Lap, Moc Chau Town, Son La Province


10. Ham Lon Mountain – the roof of Hanoi


Vietnam natural landscape_Ham Lon mountain
Image credit: @kachi11 

Ham Lon Mountain, which translates as Pig Jaw because the mountain is shaped like one, is located in Soc Son Town and only 40KM away from Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

A popular getaway for locals looking for a taste of the outdoors, it lets hikers either hike on a fairly flat and easy route bordered with yellow reeds, suitable for trekkers of all levels, or attempt the more challenging route alongside a stream, which is filled with cliffs and boulders and can require up to 5 hours of hiking.

Vietnam natural landscape_Ham Lon mountain
Image credit: @sehneiscool

Boasting a height of 462M, Ham Lon Mountain is nicknamed “the roof of Hanoi” because it’s the highest mountain in close proximity to Hanoi. Visitors can trek across vast and serene pine forests, and rest by the streams or Nui Bau Lake along the way to recharge over drinks and snacks.

The route can get rockier as you progress, so make sure you put on proper shoes and bring a walking stick before embarking on the trail.

Vietnam natural landscape_Ham Lon mountain
Image credit: @_hasu_21

When reaching the peak of the mountain, you’ll be rewarded with a thrilling view of beautiful rivers and lush forests beneath.

Vietnam natural landscape_Ham Lon mountain
Image credit: @a_bo_co_vo_go

The route can be finished within a day, but you can camp on the mountain peak overnight and bring appropriate camping tools and food. Campsite spots are available for rent here, with prices ranging from VND50,000-VND280,000 (~USD2.16-USD12.08).

Do make sure you take your trash with you and leave your campsite spick and span when you break camp.

How to get there by motorbike

From Hanoi’s city center, ride towards Thang Long – Hanoi Expressway towards National Route 2 intersection. Turn left towards Vinh Phuc Province, keep riding until you see a sign that reads Viet Phu Thanh Chuong and Xom Nui.

Turn right and keep riding for another 7KM until you see a sign that shows the direction to Viet Phu, keep riding straight ahead until you reach Ham Lon mountain.

Address: Ham Lon Mountain, Doc Ton mountain range, Soc Son, Hanoi

Website


11. Mai Chau Valley – homestay experience in ethnic villages


Vietnam natural landscape_Mai Chau valley
Image credit: Tripadvisor/Mai Chau Ecolodge

Tucked within extensive mountain outcrops, Mai Chau Valley is a tranquil oasis that’s only a stone’s throw away from the hubbub of Hanoi.

Just 3 hour’s drive from Hanoi, Mai Chau Valley is fabled for its scenic landscapes, laid-back atmosphere, and cultural homestay tourism.

Vietnam natural landscape_Mai Chau valley
Image credit: @niobeetc

Visitors who are keen to explore the valley should dedicate at least a full day here, spending the night in Thai ethnic villages. You can stay in stilt houses, which are made of bamboo and wood, surrounded by jungles and mountain tops, and experience the ways of life of Thai families.

Unlike most natural sites in Vietnam that draw visitors with their challenging hikes, Mai Chau Valley is more of a peaceful retreat to find peace in nature and engage in cultural activities.

Vietnam natural landscape_Mai Chau valley
Image credit: @nhung_22

During your stay here, you can cycle through the valley lined with rice fields and rustic yet charming stilt houses, eat home-cooked feasts made by the Thai people, or go kayaking in Hoa Binh lake nearby.

How to get there

By bus

Mai Chau Valley is about 155KM and nearly 4 hours’ drive from the center of Hanoi. Visitors can choose from a wide variety of buses and vans departing to Mai Chau from Hanoi’s central streets such as 35 Nguyen Tuan or the gate of Big C Thang Long Mart; bus fares range from VND80,000-VND200,000 (~USD3.45-USD8.63).

For further details on means of transportation to Mai Chau and fares, check out vexere.com.

By motorbike

From the city center, ride on CT08 Road for about 34KM towards Yen Bai in Ba Vi. Continue riding on the Hoa Lac-Hoa Binh route for another 23.2KM, which is about 25 minutes until you cross Deo But 1 Bridge.

After that, ride on National Road 6 for about 1 and a half hours, which is about 30KM, until you turn left to National Road 5. Ride for another 6.8KM until you reach Na Phon. Keep riding for another 35 minutes until you reach Mai Châu Valley Retreat.

Address: Mai Hich, Mai Chau District, Hoa Binh City


12. Pu Luong Nature Reserve – tropical-style rice field valley near Hanoi


Vietnam natural landscape_Pu Luong nature reserve
Image credit: @levama

Vast mountains, waterfalls, picturesque rice fields, and a unique ethnic culture are what you can expect in Pu Luong Nature Reserve.

Vietnam natural landscape_Pu Luong nature reserve
Local residents dressed in ethnic clothing
Image credit: @nobody_s_sight

About 160KM southwest of Hanoi and 130KM northwest of Thanh Hoa’s city center, Pu Luong Natural Reserve is situated on the cusp of Hoa Binh and Thanh Hoa Provinces and boasts a size of 17,600 hectares. Compared to its neighbor Mai Chau Valley, the area is less touristy and thus more serene.

Vietnam natural landscape_Pu Luong nature reserve
Image credit: @jonnyrouse7

Boasting rural and tranquil landscapes, Pu Luong Nature Reserve is a great place to take your mind off things and explore the area where humans live in harmony with nature. You can hike through the rice fields, take an exhilarating dip in the waterfalls, cycle through local hamlets, or bond with the ethnically Thai residents here.

Vietnam natural landscape_Pu Luong nature reserve
Image credit: @tuyetna_ng 

Along the streams, you’ll also run into many lovely bamboo water wheels which are hand-built to water the vast rice crops here.

Vietnam natural landscape_Pu Luong nature reserve
Image credit: @skyjellybean

How to get there

By bus

From Yen Nghia Bus Station in Ha Noi, buy a ticket that costs around VND150,000 (~USD6.47) for a 4-hour bus ride to Pu Luong Nature Reserve.

By motorbike

From Hanoi, ride towards Thang Long Avenue, on the Hoa Lac – Hoa Binh route, down DT446, and then turn to National Road 6. Keep riding until you reach Pu Luong Nature Reserve. The traveling distance is 156KM, which will take over 3 hours.

Address: Pu Luong Nature Reserve, Ba Thuoc District, Thanh Hoa City


13. Ba Be National Park – home to Vietnam’s largest natural lake


Vietnam natural landscape_Ba Be national park
Image credit: Tripadvisor/Ba Be National Park management

Situated in Ba Be District, Bac Kan Province, Ba Be National Park is home to an extensive array of flora and fauna, as well as less-trodden landscapes that you can explore over a full day. The park has a lot to offer, including plenty of waterfalls, tranquil rivers, valleys, and picturesque lakes.

Vietnam natural landscape_Ba Be national park
Image credit: jaydnixon

To get an authentic feel of this scenic area, hop on a kayak or a boat for a tour around Ba Be Lake, Vietnam’s largest natural lake to catch breathtaking views of age-old temples along the way, magnificent limestone hills rising from the water, and various freshwater fishes swimming about.

Vietnam natural landscape_Ba Be national park
Water lilies in the lake
Image credit: Nav89

Visitors can also explore an intriguing network of caves filled with rock formations which have developed here over millions of years.

Vietnam natural landscape_Ba Be national park
Image credit: 828262

How to get there

From Hanoi, take Thuong Nga bus from My Dinh Bus Station (gate 33), which departs at 10AM daily to Bac Kan Bus Station. After alighting at Bac Kan Bus Station, you will be guided to transit to another bus which will take you to Ba Be National Park.

The bus ticket for the entire trip costs VND150,000 (~USD6.47) per person per ride and travel time is just over 4 hours.

Address: Ba Be National Park, Bac Kan Province
Admission fee: VND46,000 (~USD1.98) per person

Website


14. Son Doong Cave – the world’s largest cave


Vietnam natural landscape_Son Doong Cave
Standing on the wedding cake-shaped structure in the cave
Image credit: Tripadvisor/ HuyLeHCM

Boasting a gigantic ecosystem of its own within 38.5 million cubic meters, Son Doong Cave in Phong Nha – Ke Bang Park has been recognized as the world’s largest natural cave.

Vietnam natural landscape_Son Doong Cave
Image credit: Tripadvisor/Mr.Tuan Tour

In 2019, a linkage between Son Doong Cave and Thung Cave was discovered, which added an additional 1.6 million cubic meters to the known size of the cave.

Vietnam natural landscape_Son Doong Cave
Image credit: @biotrip13

Boasting a length of 5KM and a height of 200M, the cave’s largest chamber is big enough to house the Statue of Liberty (93M high) or the Trump Tower in New York (178M high).

With a trained guide, visitors can swim in underground rivers that are as deep as 78M, explore 2 enormous cave collapses, scale 90M high calcite barriers, trek through underground rainforests, and camp under the stars.

Vietnam natural landscape_Son Doong Cave
Image credit: @stephen.hoang1901

Touring Son Doong Cave is definitely on the bucket list of every adventurer, but not every visitor is qualified to access the cave as there are rigorous health requirements. It’s also the toughest adventure tour in Vietnam, requiring adventurers to trek 17 kilometers, spelunk 8KM, hike 800M up and down, and climb a 90M high cliff.

Vietnam natural landscape_Son Doong Cave
Son Doong Cave ranks as “Level 6 – Hard” – the highest level of difficulty on Oxalis Adventure’s risk pyramid
Image credit: Oxalis Adventure

Those who are interested in embarking on a 4-day and 3-night tour in Son Doong Cave can register with Oxalis Adventure – the only company licensed to bring travelers into Son Doong Cave.

Vietnam natural landscape_Son Doong Cave
Huge stalagmite in the cave
Image credit: Oxalis Adventure

Address: Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, Quang Binh Province
4-day tour package cost: VND69,800,000 (~USD3,011.42) per person

Website


15. Hang En Cave – the world’s third-largest cave


Vietnam natural landscape_Hang EnCave
Image credit: Oxalis Adventure

For seasoned cave explorers and trekkers who are unable to visit Son Doong Cave but are looking for an easier but also scenic alternative, Hang En Cave, which is also nestled in Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, is a good choice. Alternatively known as the Cave of Swallows in English, it’s fittingly named after thousands of swallows that nest in the cave’s ceiling.

Vietnam natural landscape_Hang En CaveImage credit: Oxalis Adventure

Boasting a length of over 1.6KM and 3 gigantic entrances, Hang En Cave is recognized as the world’s third largest cave. Some chambers in the cave can be 120M high and 140M to 180M wide, also higher than the Statue of Liberty.

Even though Hang En Cave has been popular among locals for centuries, it only became world-famous after being rediscovered by British explorer Howard Limbert in 1994. It’s also one of the few caves in the world that has a campsite.

During your tour here, visitors can traverse through exuberant jungles, swim in picturesque rivers, explore wild cave systems, and camp under the stars. The expedition includes 22KM of trekking, 3KM of caving, and 450M of elevation gain throughout the hike.

Vietnam natural landscape_Hang EnCave
Image credit: Oxalis Adventure

Those who want to go on a safe and comprehensive tour around Hang En Cave can register with Oxalis Adventure, a travel agency licensed to conduct 2-day tours in the cave.

Vietnam natural landscape_Hang EnCave
Hang En Cave ranks as “Level 2 – Moderate” on Oxalis Adventure’s risk pyramid
Image credit: Oxalis Adventure

Address: Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, Quang Binh Province
2-day tour package cost: VND7,600,000 (~USD326.66) per person

Website


16. Ta Nang – Phan Dung trekking route – one of Vietnam’s most beautiful trekking routes


Vietnam natural landscape_Ta Nang Phan DungImage credit: @phatvo248

Despite its reputation among seasoned trekkers as one of the most beautiful trekking routes in Vietnam, Ta Nang – Phan Dung trekking route is also a contender for the country’s most challenging trek.

Vietnam natural landscape_Ta Nang Phan DungImage credit: @ngankim__n

Spanning across 50KM, the Ta Nang-Phan Dung trekking route lies across Lam Dong, Ninh Thuan, and Binh Thuan Provinces. The entire trekking journey takes 2 to 3 days, entailing tremendous stamina and preparation from trekkers.

Vietnam natural landscape_Ta Nang Phan Dung
Image credit: @phunghoangminh_duy

Apart from trekking and climbing nearly a hundred kilometers, trekkers have to traverse through streams and go up and down nearly vertical cliffs.

The trek gets especially dangerous during the rainy season due to slippery routes and floods, which has caused a few casualties before. Due to the complexities of the terrain, even the most seasoned trekkers don’t trek here by themselves, so do travel in a group with the assistance of a local tour guide. Stick to the safe and known routes that have already been taken by trekkers.

Vietnam natural landscape_Ta Nang Phan Dung
Image credit: @tam.vnn

Those who succeed in conquering the trek are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views over the surrounding mountains and valleys.

For a safe trek with the assistance of a local tour guide, trekkers can check out the tours provided by Divui.com, costing VND1,850,000 (~USD79.82) or those by Bitour, which are priced at VND2,590,000 (~USD111.74).

Address: Ta Nang, Duc Trong District, Lam Dong Province


17. Ta Lien Son – Vietnam’s sixth highest mountain


Vietnam natural landscape_Ta Lien Son
Image adapted from: A21 Travel

Boasting a height of 2,996M, the trail up Ta Lien Son Mountain, Vietnam’s 6th highest mountain, will have you inching across trekking routes that are pristine and filled with mystic beauty.

The mountain is also home to age-old maple trees, which glow yellow between October and November.

A trekking journey up and down the mountain should be done in 2 to 3 days and with the assistance of an experienced tour guide. On the first day, you’ll conquer the height of 1,900M after 3 to 4 hours of trekking. You can bring your own camping tools and some food to spend the night in the forest, or find the nearest household and ask for shelter if need be.

Vietnam natural landscape_Ta Lien Son
Image credit: Communist Party of Vietnam Online Newspaper

On the 2nd day, brace for a more strenuous and challenging journey that will take you 2,993M higher and much closer to the peak. The route gets narrower, more slippery, and requires more climbing as you near the peak, and look out for tree branches that block your sight.

However, you’ll find a variety of age-old trees and a wide range of beautiful flowers hidden beneath a thick layer of fog along the way, which gives you a feel of an enchanting forest in a fairy world.

From the peak of Ta Lien Son mountain, you’ll enjoy a spectacular sweeping jungle view overlooking the Lai Chau City, sloped rice fields, and magnificent rivers.

You can descend within the same day, or spend another night in the forest if you want to pace yourself more. On the 3rd day, you’ll get back to the bottom of the mountain, which can take about 5 to 6 hours of trekking.

Conquering the 6th highest mountain in Vietnam can make even seasoned trekkers exhausted and disoriented, so tackle this hike at a careful pace with a team or a tour guide. You can check out the guide service of Viet Trekking, which costs VND4,100,000 (~USD176.89) or A21 Travel, costing VND1,850,000 (~USD79.82).

Address: Ta Lien Son Mountain, Trung Leng Ho, Tam Duong District, Lai Chau Province


18. Cuc Phuong National Park – historical artifacts from the imperial era


Vietnam natural landscape_Cuc Phuong national park
Image adapted from: Vilandtravel

Situated in Ninh Binh Province, Cuc Phuong National Park was made Vietnam’s first national park in 1962 and also the country’s largest natural reserve. The park spans across 22,208 hectares with diverse flora and fauna as well as karst mountains and scenic valleys.

Vietnam natural landscape_Cuc Phuong national park
Image credit: @bytrangdoan_

Cuc Phuong National Park is home to 97 species of mammals, including endangered langurs, 300 species of birds, and 2,000 species of plants.

Aside from its remarkable biodiversity, Cuc Phuong National Park is also well-known for its historical artifacts, including signs of human habitation that date back to 12,000 years ago, and a battle site between Nguyen Hue and Thang Long from back in 1789.

Vietnam natural landscape_Cuc Phuong national park
Image credit: @funkatronas 

Depending on your level of fitness, you can opt for tours that involve hiking or cycling through an old-growth forest, watching birds or wildlife animals in the evening, camping, taking photos with a 1,000-year-old tree, or kayaking.

Vietnam natural landscape_Cuc Phuong national park
Image credit: @biaisgone

One of the main highlights of the park are the Mua Caves, including a cave occupied by prehistoric humans, which also makes this national park one of Vietnam’s oldest human habitats. Artifacts that date back to 7,500 years ago are on display in the cave.

 How to get there

From Giap Bat Bus Station in Hanoi, buy a VND100,000 (~USD4.40) bus ticket for a 3-hour bus ride to Nho Quan Bus Station. After alighting, take a 53-minute cab ride from Nho Quan Bus Station to Cuc Phuong National Park. 

Address: Nho Quan District, Ninh Binh Province
Opening hours: 8AM-6PM, Daily
Admission fee: VND40,000 (~USD1.73) per pax

Website


19. Nam Cat Tien National Park – UNESCO-recognized Biosphere Reserve


Vietnam natural landscape_Nam Cat Tiennational parVietnam natural landscape_Nam Cat Tiennational park
Image credit: Vườn Quốc Gia Cát Tiên

Spread across 720 square kilometers including the areas of Tan Phu, Bao Lam, Cat Tien, Bu Dang, and Vinh Cuu, Cat Tien National Park is a UNESCO-recognized biosphere reserve 150KM north of Ho Chi Minh City.

The park is home to some of Vietnam’s largest lowland tropical forests, expansive grasslands, wetlands, bamboo forests, and at least 62 types of orchids.

Vietnam natural landscape_Nam Cat Tiennational park
Image adapted from: Vườn Quốc Gia Cát Tiên

Visitors can choose from a wide variety of activities in the park, such as trekking or cycling through the forests and around the Crocodile Lake, kayaking, visiting Ta Lai ethnic village, watching birds, and observing wild animals from inside a jeep.

You might encounter a number of mammal species, including crab-eating macaques, pygmy slow lorises, the Asiatic black bear, Indo-Chinese spiny lizard, and lesser fish eagles. Do follow your guide’s instructions and refrain from approaching them or using flash photography.

Vietnam natural attraction_Nam Cat Tien national park
Image adapted from: Vườn Quốc Gia Cát Tiên

History buffs can also drop by the Cat Tien archaeological site, where excavations between 1994 and 2003 unearthed several Hindu temples dating back to the 4th and 9th century, as well as gold, bronze, and ceramic that are now displayed in the Da Lat Museum.

Those who wish to spend the night in the park can book a room in one of the many guest houses inside the park, or bring their own camping tools to camp here.

Vietnam natural landscape_Nam Cat Tiennational park
Orchard Home Resort, inside the national park
Image credit: Orchard Resort

How to get there from Ho Chi Minh City:

By bus

From the Eastern Bus Station (Bến xe Miền Đông), buy a VND80,000 (~USD3.44) bus ticket at kiosk 5 for a 4-hour ride to the gate of Cat Tien national park.

Address: Tan Phu, Dong Nai
Opening hours: 7.30AM-6.30PM, Daily
Admission fee: VND10,000-VND60,000 (~USD0.43-USD2.58)

Website


20. Bach Ma National Park – breathtaking waterfall and ocean views


Vietnam natural landscape_Bach Ma national park
Image credit: 301nina

Boasting 2,000 species of plants and over 1,000 animals, Bach Ma National Park is also home to 5 stunning lake trails, the spectacular Do Quyen waterfall, and semi-tropical rainforests.

Strong and experienced trekkers looking for a challenge can try embarking on a 19KM winding route from the entrance to the peak, which might take more than 4 hours. Otherwise, you can rent a round-trip wagon at about VND900,000 (~USD38.83) per person to reach the peak.

Vietnam natural landscape_Bach Ma national park
Image credit: Michelle Yip

You can jump off the waterfalls for an exhilarating time in the waters, or visit the peak of the park – Hai Vong Dai – The Ocean Observing Platform, where you’ll be treated to a panoramic outlook over extensive mountain ranges and the ocean standing from 1,450M above.

Vietnam natural landscape_Bach Ma national park
An abandoned monastery at the peak of Bach Ma National Park
Image credit: Michelle Yip

Vietnam natural landscape_Bach Ma national park
Image credit: Guamanic_traveler

Those who’d like to spend the night under the stars in the fresh and serene surroundings can bring your own camping tools and food here.

How to get there

From Hue’s city center, which is over 40 km away from Bach Ma national forest, buy a bus ticket at Dong Ba bus station at no.6 Tran Hung Dao Street.

Those who like to be more flexible with your visit schedules can take a cab or use car rental services, which are plentiful around the city. The rental cost, which comes with a driver, is about VND300,000-VND500,000 (~USD12.94-USD21.57) per way.

Address: Hoa Bac, Phu Loc, Thua Thien Hue
Opening hours: 7AM-5PM, Daily
Admission fee: VND40,000 (~USD1.73) per pax

Website


Vietnam forests, mountains, and natural attractions to visit


Many people’s first impressions of Vietnam are a sea of motorbikes and a matrix of townhouses extending as far as the eye can see in our major cities. However, if you travel a bit further away from the city centers of Saigon or Hanoi, say 100KM, you’ll find many serene and pristine natural landscapes as well as neighborhoods full of cultural sights.

These Vietnam forests, mountains, and natural attractions across the country offer restless and exhausted city residents a much-needed break from the city hubbub and quality time with nature.

Also check out:


Cover image adapted from: Tripadvisor/Tracey N, Viettrekking, @levama, and Nav89

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