I was deeply amazed by the culture and the incredible landscapes in Vietnam during my short visit. The experiences I had have pretty left me in a state of craving for more.
I realized I just had scratched the surface of all the discoveries waiting in Vietnam. So I decided to learn more of them and create a bucket list covering everything I desire to see again and what’s left to explore.
Here, in this blog post, you will discover the places where you can see the beautiful landscapes in Vietnam. The places on the list has scenic mountain destinations, canyons, rock formations, and even waterfalls.
For each place in Vietnam with an extraordinary landscape that I will mention, I included the other things you can do. That is to help you decide if that place is really worth visiting, and not just sightseeing. Let’s start tackling each destination from north to south:
The Breathtaking limestone mountains, winding roads, gorgeous terraced rice fields are just some of the sceneries that await us in the northernmost province in Vietnam called Ha Giang. It is 290 kilometers or a 6-hour drive away from Hanoi.
Ha Giang is also called Vietnam’s final frontier as it shares a 270-kilometer borderline with China. Here, visitors can have an overlooking view of China on the other side of the border through Lung Cu Flag Tower. It is the last place in Vietnam before China, where you can see a Vietnamese flag raised to the sky.
Landscape to see in Ha Giang, Vietnam
The tail of the Himalayas lies in Northern Vietnam. That gives Ha Giang and surrounding towns views of wonderful wrinkles on the earth’s surface like mountain ranges, valleys, and plateaus. A few of the famous attractions regarding scenic landscapes are:
Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark
The 2,356 square kilometers Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark is one of Vietnam’s unique limestone zones. It is where you can see striking imprints retelling the story of the earth’s crust formation. The limestones here were formed by geological pressures and different phases of nature’s evolution. They account for up to 80% of the rock formations you’ll see in the geopark.
Hoang Su Phi
Hoang Su Phi is a district in Ha Giang, about a 6-hour drive from Hanoi. Its landscape is mainly steep mountains, mostly you’ll see scenic and deep valleys patched with herbs and trees. Hoang Su Phi boasts its majestic rice fields, designated as a National Heritage site in 2012. They are said to be one of Vietnam’s most impressive wonders.
Hoang Su Phi is also home to a distinct and peculiar indigenous community. It is said that 12 different ethnic minorities are living here in Hoang Su Phi. They’re worth visiting if you love discovering cultures and going to a path less traveled.
Rice terraces in Vietnam are one big travel-inspiring thing to see in Vietnam. Be sure to check the others!
Tu San Canyon
You have to check Tu San Canyon if you desire to see scenic landscapes created by million years of erosion and geologic activity. This canyon is a part of Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark that is believed to be the deepest canyon in entire Vietnam and Southeast Asia.
Another worthy destination in Ha Giang and Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark is Quan Ba, also known as Co Tien Mountain or Mount Fairy poetry. From a distance, Quan Ba Twin Mountain appears to be two peaches, a piece of art created by nature. This landscape in Vietnam is related to a very touching legend of a couple who adore each other.
The Happiness Road was established between 1959 and 1965 along the Dong Van Rocky Plateau. It has a total length of 185 kilometers linking Ha Giang township with the isolated mountainous districts of Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Dong Van, and Meo Vac.
It is a road built to help different ethnic minorities to gain access to the plains and improve their lives. Happiness road is a winding path showcasing scenic views of the mountains and fascinating shapes of the road itself.
What to do in Ha Giang, Vietnam?
Aside from seeing jaw-dropping sights in Ha Giang, you can do the following exciting activities in Ha Giang:
- Visit Lung Cam Village – There, you’ll see the modest and peaceful way of life of Hmong ethnic people in the middle of the rock plateau.
- Check out Vuong Family Mansion – Get to discover a masterpiece of architecture built by Hmong people and craftsmen from Yunnan, China.
- Explore Dan Van Old Quarter – The century-old Dong Van Old Quarter is the highest old quarter of Vietnam you must see. It has traditional Chinese architecture set against a spectacular background of vast mountains and lush rice fields.
Sapa is a small, picturesque mountain town in the Lao Cai Province. This town with spectacular landscape is situated about 350 km northwest of Hanoi. It is here, in Sapa, you can find the Hoang Lien Son range of mountains, which includes Fansipan, the country’s highest peak, and the roof of Indochina.
In Fansipan, you can experience the stunning phenomena called the sea of clouds that will make you feel like you’re in heaven when you see one.
Sapa’s neighboring area is home to numerous hill tribes, rice terraces, and more lush vegetation. Unlike Ha Giang, Sapa is more accessible to tourists and travelers.
Landscape to see in Sapa, Vietnam
Because Sapa is also located in the northern region of Vietnam, it also shares magnificent views of the mountainous endpoint of the Himalayas. When you come here, expect misty and dreamy views of the mountains and highland terraced rice fields. The most visited places in Sapa for their scenic landscapes are:
Fansipan Mountain is located 9 kilometers from the center of Sapa Town in Lao Cai Province, Vietnam. It is part of the Hoang Lien Son Range and the highest point in Indochina. The scenery on the way to the top is well worth the effort, with dense jungle, the majestic landscape of the Hoang Lien Son range, idyllic tribal villages, and the sight of wild Azalea near the summit. With the construction of the Fansipan Cable Car, you can climb to the top of this mountain in just 15 minutes.
Ham Rong Mountain Park
Ham Rong Peak, also known as Dragon Jaw Mountain, is shaped like a dragon head, dimly towering in the early morning mist. Ham Rong is home to many different types of flowers and orchard gardens, with over 194 different kinds of flowers and 6000 orchid plants.
Muong Hoa Valley
What makes Muong Hoa unique is that their terraced rice fields in the valley. It is a masterpiece combining the water rice planting techniques in the mountains of the Dao and the Hmong people. The mixture of the Muong Hoa Valley’s natural beauty and farmers has also made the paddy fields enchanting sceneries of rice paddles, which tourists find so awe-inspiring.
Silver Waterfall is one of Vietnam’s most spectacular waterfalls, about 15 kilometers from Sapa town center, located alongside National Highway number 4D, with a 100-meters height. Tourists describe Silver Waterfalls as a giant white dragon roaring and descending from the clouds. Without it, the surrounding mountains and lush forest would not be as breathtaking as they are now.
Ta Van Village
Ta Van village, located in the Hoang Lien Son Mountains of Northwest Vietnam, is home to the Giay people, one of Sapa’s ethnic minorities. It’s also one of the most famous overnight stops on the Sapa trekking trail and a great place to see the spectacular terraced rice fields of northern Vietnam.
O Quy Ho Pass
At the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, you can find the O Quy Ho Pass, also known as the “Heaven Gate.” The pass lies 2000 meters above sea level in Lai Chau province, Sapa, and Tam Duong districts. It is an adventurer’s paradise for the challenging roads and scenic mountain views seen in the area. And because of that, it was hailed as the “King of Passes in Northwest Vietnam.”
What to do in Sapa, Vietnam?
- Discover Sapa Love Market – It showcases both Dao, Hmong, and other ethnic groups’ traditions, customs, and beliefs in the Sapa town center. Catch it every Saturday night in Sapa town center.
- Visit Cat Cat Village – Cat Cat village, surrounded by rice terraces and rolling green hills, is a popular destination for trekking and sightseeing, as well as experiencing mountain life. Experience the beautiful village with quiet views and distinctive Hmong ethnic customs and traditions.
- Check out Sapa Church – A century-old church, located in the heart of Sapa, was constructed in the twentieth century by French colonists. Get to see the most popular tourist attraction in Sapa town.
- Relax by Sapa Lake – Sapa has a picturesque lake in it. Spend some free time relaxing in the calm and peaceful lake before the sunset.
- Cable Car and Funicular Trains – Have a relaxing cable car trip with jawdropping sceneries to the summit of Mount Fansipan in just 15 minutes!
Try my list of relaxing things to do in Sapa after going on an adventure.
If there is one place in Vietnam that initially got my curiosity about Vietnam, that would be Halong bay. It is a natural wonder located 170 kilometers east of Hanoi.
Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site featured in several movies. Though it may be known for epic landscape and stunning limestone island-hills. Halong bay is also a marine sanctuary for a wide range of biodiversity.
Halong bay isn’t just about the island-mountains view from the shore and cruises. It also has picturesque gorges and caves full of impressive rock formations.
Landscape to see in Halong Bay, Vietnam
Halong Bay and its surroundings are mostly made of thick limestone, much like the jutting limestone karsts sprouted magnificently in the bay’s waters.
There is also a chain of underground lakes in Halong bay linked by hidden caves formed entirely by sea erosion. Over these lakes are hanging stalactites, which are another fascinating wonder to behold in Halong Bay.
What to do in Halong Bay, Vietnam?
- Discover the Vung Vieng Floating Village – Believe it or not, sea settlement is possible, and you can find one here in Halong bay. What’s more fascinating is, these people have been living in Bai Tu Long Bay for generations now. It’s gonna be an excellent experience to meet the villages from this floating village. Bai Tu Long Bay is located northeast of Halong Bay.
- See the rock formations in Dau Go Cave and Thien Cung Cave – discover hundreds of stalactites and other rock formations in Halong bay. The caves are well lighted up, and surely you can see every detail of every corner of the cave.
- Take a Cruise – There is no other much easier way to see every must-see spot in Halong bay rather than hopping on a cruise that goes around the bay.
- Snorkel and Dive near Cong Do Island – Don’t waste the opportunity to see what’s underneath the surface of Halong bay! Marine life is yet another thing to see in Halong bay.
Going further south, we come to another place full of limestone hills called Ninh-Binh. Most tourists and locals call Ninh Binh “the Halong Bay on Land” because of the same jutting limestones seen in Halong bay. And like Halong bay, you can also travel around each towering mountain through a boat ride.
Ninh Binh is also the location where the first capital of Vietnam was built. Thus, going here will be about both a discovery of ancient Vietnam and an excursion to the incredible karst-filled landscape in the Red River Delta.
Landscape to see in Ninh Binh, Vietnam
In Ninh Binh, you could see three different types of topography. From west to east, you’ll notice that the landscape in Ninh Binh transforms from mountainous, river delta, and coastal zone.
When you climb one of the viewpoints in Ninh Binh, you will clearly see the magnificent transition of the landscape from hills to mixed to flat. It is scenic in all angles you prefer to look at. Here is the list of destinations where you can see this another extraordinary landscape of Vietnam:
Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex is a scenic area renowned for its boat cave tours, passing along a river in a valley of jutting limestone karst. Trang An was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, similar to Halong Bay, on the 23rd of June 2014. Aside from limestone karst, you’ll find picturesque grottos, centuries-old temples, and caves with hundreds of wine jars in Trang An.
Tam Coc is a similar spot in Ninh Binh like Trang An. Here you can have a boat tour that traverses caves and passes along towering limestone karst. The two differences between Trang An and Tam Coc are: First, rowers paddle the boat using their foot in Tam Coc. Second, you pass a Green Sea alongside the limestone karst, also in Tam Coc. A Green Sea is the term that everyone uses to depict the ricefields seen during the boat ride.
Hang Mua Peak
This is the viewpoint where you can have an overlooking view of Tam Coc and parts of Ninh Binh. One of the sides of Hang Mua Peak shows the fields of the town and the Red River Delta. While the opposite gives you a sight of the incredible limestone karst stretching far to the west.
Van Long Wetlands
One that you might probably spot from Hang Mua Peak is the Van Long Wetlands. It is located on the northernmost tip of the Pu Luong-Cuc Phuong limestone mountain range. Van Long Wetlands is also one of the few remaining intact lowland inland wetlands in the Red River Delta. The site is centered on a cluster of limestone karst outcrops that rise sharply from northern Vietnam’s flat coastal plain.
What to do in Ninh Binh, Vietnam?
Since Ninh Binh is the first location of the Vietnamese capital, you can find few things to discover both inside the town and nearby places. Check these out:
- Climb the Bich Dong Pagoda – Bich Dong Pagoda is a place in Ninh Binh where you can get another overlooking view of the fields and surrounding mountains. It has three layers, each has a pagoda to see.
- Wander in Bai Dinh Pagoda – After you’ve seen the magnificent landscape, you must check out the largest Buddhist temple in whole Southeast Asia. It has more than 500 Buddhist statues to see inside.
- Explore the Ancient village of Hoa Lu – There are temples and other intriguing remnants of the past which you can find in Hoa Lu. Reviews said it is worth visiting, especially if you love history.
- Hike in Cuc Phuong National Park – Get refreshed by the help of nature in Cuc Phuong. You can see different kinds of trees here, including those already more than a thousand years old.
I have a more thorough post about Ninh Binh. Check it out! 🙂
Quang Binh is a Vietnamese province located some 490 kilometers south of Hanoi. It is the narrowest point in Vietnam and regarded as “the Kingdom of The Caves” because of the numerous extraordinary caves discovered in Quang Binh.
Adventure is one reason why Quang Binh a very compelling destination to visit. However, it is the impressive landscapes in Quang Binh that absolutely make it irresistible to see, like more limestone mountains and the largest cave in the whole world.
Landscape to see in Quang Binh, Vietnam
Quang Binh has a varied geography, including everything from mountains to lowlands, forests, waterways, and beaches. All these make Quang Binh a perfect destination because there is so much to see and discover. Here are the spots where you can find incredible landscapes in Quang Binh:
Chay River is a river located in Phong Nha in Quang Binh, where limestone mountains filled with lush vegetation are seen while doing water sports activities. You can try kayaking and a cruise along the pristine Gatorade waters of Char River.
Chay river runs into Hang Toi, or mostly known as Dark Cave. It has impressive rock formations on its ceiling, but you must bring your own artificial light to get a glimpse of them. The Dark Cave will also give you an experience in a nourishing mud bath inside!
Paradise cave is the longest dry cave in Asia, with an impressive length of 31.4 kilometers. It is also dubbed as “the Underground Palace” because of the marvelous rock formations beyond human imagination.
I must say I was really impressed by the pictures of this cave I saw on the internet. Since pictures don’t give justice to the scenery, the actual visit to the Paradise cavern will surely be one epic experience to have.
Son Doong Cave
The ultimate destination in Central Vietnam, Son Doong Cave, the biggest cave in the whole world! It is also dubbed “Vietnam’s Great Wall” because of its immense size and incredible landscapes in the cave. What’s unbelievable? Son Doong Cave is so huge that a 40 story building could fit inside!
It is a natural wonder I will always look forward to visiting. It is hard to explain everything in words how beautiful Son Doong Cave is. I share this virtual tour of Son Doong Cave from NatGeo to let you know why it is compelling to visit this enormous cave.
What to do in Quang Binh, Vietnam?
Quang Binh is a paradise for adventurers. A few of the things that you can do to have fun here are the following:
- Zipline and Kayak in Chay River – Before you enter the dark cave, have fun first splashing in the Gatorade blue waters of Chay River.
- Take a refreshing spring bath in Nuoc Mooc – bathe in a spring where you can relieve your body from the humid heat of a tropical country.
- Get a beach holiday in Bao Ninh beach. If you prefer saltwater over freshwater, you can go directly to the Bao Ninh to have a relaxing time on a beach.
Da Lat is the largest city in the central highlands of Vietnam, situated at 1500 meters above sea level. Because of its elevation, Da Lat experiences a cooler climate, unlike some low-lying towns and cities in Vietnam. It is the reason why Da Lat is called “The City of Eternal Spring.”
I did not find any attractions here that are as cool as Son Doong Cave or Tu San Canyon in Dalat. However, I discovered that Da Lat houses gorgeous waterfalls, which everyone might like to see when traveling in Vietnam.
Landscape to see in Da Lat, Vietnam
The terrain of Da Lat has two classifications. The first classification is the mountainous area, and the second is the lowlands. The shift of elevation between the two regions of Da Lat forms magnificent waterfalls on its outskirts. Here are the landscape/waterfalls that you can see in Dalat:
Pongour Falls is the most famous waterfall in Da Lat, cascading 40 meters tall and 100 meters wide. What’s unique to this waterfall is the terraced shape and the polished steps, making it a picture-perfect body of water. It is located in the middle of the forest so expect a totally refreshing experience when visiting Pongour Falls.
Elephant waterfall is another gorgeous waterfall you can find in Da Lat. It is 30 meters in height, with waters crashing on a bouldery plunge pool. You can climb on the boulders around the pool to see the falls even closer.
Another waterfall awaits you in Da Lat, and it is called Datanla Falls. Though it is not as large as Elephant and Pongour Falls, locals say it has a charm that’s not present in the earlier waterfalls on this list. Perhaps the bridge near the waterfalls makes the distinction, as it makes the Datanla falls tell a story.
What to do in Da Lat, Vietnam?
Since you will be visiting a major town in the central mountainous region of Vietnam, you can expect other activities here, not just seeing waterfalls:
- See the Phouc Pagoda – it is a super detailed and colorful pagoda that I think everyone must-see. It is already stunning from the photos. What more in actuality?
- Relax beside Xuan Huong Lake – catch the sunset while relaxing beside the lake and photograph a surreal view of the lake reflecting the colorful sky.
- Spend a day at the Valley of Love – It is a garden full of hearts everywhere. Literally. You can even come inside a heart-shaped garden maze and play with your friends or family if you also plan to bring them to Vietnam.
- Visit Dalat Flower Gardens – there are more than 300 kinds of flowers in this garden. With that, it never loses a day without a flower blooming for you to see.
Phan Thiet is a coastal city that lets you see geographical wonders and explore ancient structures that date back to the 9th century. It is located east of Ho Chi Minh City, serving locals and tourists a quick get-away from the bustling city experience.
What commonly tourists come here for is the beach. Some also come here to see the fishing port full of colorful boats and eat delicious seafood meals. The coastline has tons of resorts giving you an unlimited choice for your desired vacation.
Landscape to see in Phan Thiet, Vietnam
Phan Thiet has more than 57 kilometers of coastline. It gives the province a lot of beaches to spend time in leisure. Yet it is not plain beaches. It also has an unusual landscape to see rare in Southeast Asia, and they are:
Red Sand Dunes
Coming to the Red Sand Dunes in Phan Thiet will make you think that you are traveling to a Middle Eastern desert because of the same reddish-brown sands all around. Here you can sand-sled all you want with just 10,000 VND to 20,000 VND plastic cards. Just beware of the scammers selling plastic cards for a higher price.
White Sand Dunes
On the other side of the forest in Phan Thiet near the Red Sand Dunes, you can find the lighter version of it. This time, it is color yellowish white. This sand dune plunges into a small lagoon lined with blooming lotus. These sand dunes are perfect for adventure and photo opportunities.
Down to the most exciting landscape to see in Phan Thiet, the Fairy Stream. They say it is a miniature version of Grand Canyon in Arizona. The area has soft red sand and towering limestone rocks. To get a better experience in Fairy Stream, You can take off your shoes while exploring the area. The creek in Fairy stream is only a few centimeters deep, so it is definitely safe to walk barefoot on it.
What to do in Phan Thiet, Vietnam?
Aside from sledding at the dunes, Phan Thiet has a few other things to offer for you to try:
- Check out ancient structures – in Phan Thiet, you can find the Ancient Po Shanu Cham Towers. They are regarded as important cultural landmarks of the ancient Champa Kingdom built in the 8th century.
- Try kite surfing in Mui Ne beach – the beach has 15 kilometers of sandy beaches perfect for water activities like kite surfing, surfing, and sunbathing.
- Check out the colorful boats in Mui Ne – there is a fishing village in Mui Ne where you can find tons of colorful boats. It is an excellent place to capture photos of Vietnamese people’s daily lives in the sea.
- Climb the Ta Cu Mountain – if you get tired of the sea, you can hike for two hours to Ta Cu Mountain to get a different view of Phan Thiet. You will see limestone caves, lush rainforests, and ornate Buddhist structures here in Ta Cu Mountains.
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