The region of Ba Be (which means "the three bays") is located 230 km north-east of Hanoi and has a huge national park with a set of interconnected lakes 7 km long and 400 m wide. The lakes are surrounded by a preserved tropical forest which shelters monkeys, numerous birds, as well as butterflies and other insects, protected by local initiatives.
Ba Be is a splendid and still wild region – perfect for adventure tours in Vietnam. Amidst a backdrop of waterfalls, rivers, lakes and valleys you can observe the peaceful and authentic life of the inhabitants of the region - the Dai ethnic group. Spend the night with the locals and discover their kindness. During the day, Ba Be offers a wide range of excursions and activities such as discovering caves and waterfalls, on foot, by boat or by kayak.
The district of Mu Cang Chai, located in the northeast of Vietnam, is a place of magical authenticity whose reliefs and panoramas of rice terraces in shades of greens and yellows, compete in beauty with those of the Sapa Valley. Sometimes you will hike through the mist, then to the top of the mountains, admiring the majestic spectacle of a sea of moving clouds, from which emerge striped valleys of these rice terraces. A highlight of your trip to Vietnam!
This region is not only a postcard setting, but it is also the land of the Hmong and Thai ethnic groups whose kindness, grace and courage will touch you. In their traditional costumes with bright colours, the inhabitants work outside and blend harmoniously into these unreal landscapes. The children greet you with big smiles as they have fun on the back of the buffalos that accompany them. A playground full of some of the best adventure tours in Vietnam.
In the centre of Vietnam on the Annamite Range and close to the border with Laos, is the Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the largest areas of limestone karst in the world. In 2009, a team of British cavers discovered a network of the largest and most complex caves and caves there, as well as the longest underground river in the world. It is an area definitely worthy of adventure tours in Vietnam!
Among the essentials of this site, the Phong Nha Cave is absolutely incredible, made up of a series of cavities and impressive stalactites and stalagmites of extraordinary dimensions. The Tien Son Cave is also worth the detour and from its summit, you can admire the surrounding rice fields. The region also lends itself wonderfully to treks of all levels stays of several days in the jungle. This is the home of the Muong ethnic group, with whom you will meet when you explore this region.
One of the best adventure tours in Vietnam is an excursion to Lak Lake, 50 km from Buon Ma Thuot in the central highlands. The road here offers beautiful landscapes. Once you arrive at the big lake, you can observe elephants near the village of Buon Jun. You can also choose to cross the lake by canoe and visit another village: the village of M’Lieng.
Home to the Ede ethnic group who follow a matriarchal tradition, you can visit their typical longhouses made of wood and bamboo. Not far from Lak Lake, you will have the opportunity to see large areas of coffee plantations. This is where we find the heart of the farms - let's not forget that Vietnam is the 2nd largest producer of coffee in the world! In the area, you will also find the Dak Lak Ethnology Museum in a 5-hectare park where you can learn about the history, architecture and culture of the region's ethnic groups.
The hamlet of Ban Don, in the province of Dak Lak, is located 36 km west of the town of Buon Ma Thuot. This legendary territory is known for the taming of elephants. Located on an island in the Serepok River, Ban Don is surrounded by mountains and forests inhabited by different ethnic groups. You can also visit traditional houses in this region of the highlands and be introduced to local customs by attending gong shows for example, or sipping traditional rice alcohol through a long bamboo stick as a straw.
Treks are also available in this area, crossing a 1-km long bamboo bridge that spans the Serepok River, as it winds its way through York Don Forest. The river can also be crossed by canoe if you wish. By visiting Ban Don, you will not only be able to enjoy moments of relaxation in the open air but also to interact with locals of great hospitality, and experience one of the most off-the-beaten-path adventure tours in Vietnam.
A trip to Vietnam can also be complemented with a trip to Cambodia, and the sweetest way to get to the neighbouring country is to take a cruise along the Mekong River to cross the border. From the peaceful and fertile delta of southern Vietnam to the lush tropical forests of Cambodia, you will experience the play of sunlight, succulent cuisines, fresh fruit from the surrounding orchards, and the energy of daily life along the river, a highlight of your holiday to Vietnam.
The stops during your Vietnam-Cambodia trip will allow you to set foot on land to visit the banks of the Mekong and discover first-hand the authentic life of the inhabitants of the river. Navigation is slow and without pitfalls, ideal for relaxing, disconnecting from all worries against the backdrop of charming remote villages, wild countryside and tropical landscapes dotted by Chinese and Buddhist pagodas of former days and today. These lands embody a now-forgotten way of life, where farmers work in the rice fields with their bare hands and fishermen cast their nets on sparkling bodies of water. In this atmosphere of infinite peace, your sampan can take you to either Phnom Penh or to Siem Reap.
Sa Dec is a peaceful town in the Mekong Delta with tree-lined streets and old colonial villas. It is one of our favourite stops for adventure tours in Vietnam. You can visit the nurseries that border the river and stroll through the flower markets and orchards. The city is particularly famous for its roses which elegantly adorn the boats during the Têt festivities.
You can take a step back in time by visiting the House of Thuy Le Huynh, a pretty residence on the edge of the river. This was once the residence of the 27-year-old heir to a wealthy Chinese family, with whom Marguerite Duras had a love affair in 1929 when she was only 15 years old. This episode of her life was immortalized in her famous semi-autobiographical novel, “L’amant”, later adapted for cinema by Jean-Jacques Annaud. The house features Sino-French architecture with fine interior woodwork, mother-of-pearl doors and inlaid pearls, carved wooden furniture and original tiling made in France. In the entrance hall, you will find photos of the Le family, as well as of Marguerite Duras herself.
Dien Bien Phu, nestled in the heart-shaped valley of Muong Thanh near the Laotian border, is one of the most remote parts of Vietnam thus making it a perfect destination for adventure tours in Vietnam. The city of Dien Bien Phu will delight history buffs because it is to the French what the DMZ near Danang is to the Americans.
Indeed, here in November 1954 a decisive battle took place which led to the end of French colonialism in Indochina. A few weeks later, the Geneva agreements would ratify the departure of the French from Tonkin and divide Vietnam in two: the North and the South. Today, a military museum tells the story of the battle and keeps one of its landing strips as well as a display of weapons belonging to the French army. In the surroundings of Dien Bien Phu, you can venture into the plains on a trek or by bicycle.
How’s that for inspiration? Contact your Shanti Travel Expert to create the perfect off-the-beaten-track adventure tour in Vietnam for you.