Guidebook Head to the countryside for adventure and scenic satisfaction


Head to the countryside for adventure and scenic satisfaction

Vietnam is fast becoming a hub for adventure seekers, writes Cam Hassard at “Though not traditionally cast as a prime nook for adventure tourism, the scene is shifting fast … as the old trend of piña colada-sipping beachside vacays gives way to more adventurous long-haul outings worldwide, Vietnam is looking inward and asking: Why can’t we be the next Southeast Asian adventure destination?” Hassard lists the reasons why:

Spectacular and diverse landscapes. Some 2000 miles of stunning coastline. The rice terraces of the northern regions. A bounty of limestone karsts, beautiful bays. Abundant waterfalls and jungle.

“Apart from trekking in the mountainous north, visitors can now also go rock–climbing, canyoning, sea kayaking or kitesurfing, among other activities,” says Rough Guides. “Da Lat has emerged as Vietnam’s adventure sports capital and Mui Ne its surf city, though some sports like mountain biking can be done throughout the country.”

It’s not for the faint hearted, but one of the best ways to get the most out of Vietnam is to do as locals do: “rent a motorbike and either drive to the mountains in the North or along the length of the whole country from north to south,” says Mien Pham Hoang in The Culture Trip. “The rural roads of Vietnam beg to be explored, and going by motorbike, though dangerous, is a great way to do it,” advises Frommers. “From Dalat in the Central Highlands, arrange a ride with an Easy Rider, motorcycle guides who can take you up the Ho Chi Minh Trail (now a highway) and as far as Danang and Hoi An.”

Or choose a different set of wheels. “The best part about cycling in Vietnam is that, with some exceptions, the routes are quite flat,” explains Frommers. “Adventure-tour outfitters out of both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City can make any arrangements for a tour of any length, even providing a support van, and going by bike gives you a close-up view of it all.” The most popular cycling route in Vietnam, says Traveller, is National Highway, the “iconic road” that runs the length of the narrow country from north to south -- “a long but immensely rewarding trip along the best parts of Vietnam's coastline … take the time along the way to gaze at networks of lush rice fields blanketing the hidden valleys below; fish, snorkel or dive the turquoise waters of the coast; and soak up the atmosphere of delightful rural hamlets.”

Other spectacular adventures include:

Kayaking in Halong Bay “means going through low caves at low tide to get to the collapsed center of huge limestone and volcanic rings, where walls of jungle vegetation tower hundreds of feet overhead and crawl with monkeys, snakes, and rare animals.” (Frommers)

Cuc Phuong National Park: “A great little overnight from Hanoi for nature lovers, Cuc Phuong hosts a unique primate-research center, has good basic accommodations, and offers lots of hiking trails. Good guides are on hand to assist or hire for the day.” (Frommers)

Cat Tien National Park: “Bird-watcher heaven, little Cat Tien is halfway between Saigon and Dalat, and an overnight stay includes night spotting, rustic accommodations, and a morning hike. The place is crawling with jungle animals, birds, and lots of naturalists and ornithologists chasing after them with binoculars.” (Frommers)

Canyoning in the highlands. “Jumping off of cliffs, repelling backwards down raging waterfalls-sound crazy? It is. The highlands of Vietnam are one of the best spots to try this adventure sport … you will be terrified as you try to slowly lead yourself down a vertical rock face into a raging river, but it will be worth it.” (TripZilla)

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