14 Awe-Inspiring Natural Sights in Vietnam (That Aren't Ha Long Bay)

Bac Son in Lang Son Province | © Jimmy Tran/Shutterstock
Bac Son in Lang Son Province | © Jimmy Tran/Shutterstock
When it comes to natural wonders in Vietnam, you have to talk about Ha Long Bay. There’s no other place like it in the world, which is why hordes of tourists visit every year. But Vietnam has so much more to offer nature lovers, so let’s take a look at the mountains, rice paddies, lakes, waterfalls, caves and spectacular beaches you should also check out.

Hang Sơn Đoòng

Tours into the cave—the world’s biggest, by volume—aren’t cheap. The descent is tricky as well, so only experienced guides are allowed to take tourists inside. You also have to climb over the The Great Wall of Vietnam. This isn’t an excursion for a casual hiker, but it’s an experience to remember.

Son Doong Cave © Doug Knuth/Flickr

Côn Đảo

These lesser-known islands lie off the southern coast of Vietnam. In days long gone, political prisoners and other undesirables were sent here to be tortured for information. Nowadays, however, there are prime scuba diving spots and amazing hikes, plus you can check out some local wildlife such as the Crab-Eating Macaque and the Black Giant Squirrel. Sea turtles breed on these islands as well, and you can arrange with local park rangers to watch newly hatched babies as they start their harrowing adventures.

Con Dao Islands © Paul Arps/Flickr

Rice paddies outside Hội An

Hội An itself is a spectacle to behold, but there’s plenty of natural beauty outside the city as well. You can rent bicycles and motorbikes to go for rides in stunning rice paddies, where lumbering water buffaloes roam and old farmers tend the same fields that their ancestors have for generations.

Rice paddies outside Hoi An © Matthew Pike

Hai Van Pass

While this is technically man-made, it’s the surrounding jungles and vistas that make this stretch of road so special. It’s a serpentine stretch carved into the side of a mountain just north of Đà Nẵng. It climbs over a chunk of the Annamite Range, which are the mountains bordering Vietnam and Laos.

The Hai Van Pass cutting through the mountain jungles © AnhTuan Le/Flickr

Fansipan and the Muong Hoa Valley

These two could each have their own spot on this list, but we’ll put them together since they can see each other. Fansipan is the tallest mountain in Indochina, looming over the town of Sapa in the far north. Below Sapa lies the Muong Hoa Valley, an amazing expanse of terraced rice paddies and villages.

The Muong Hoa Valley and Fansipan © Matthew Pike

Mũi Né Sand Dunes

The sand dunes Mũi Né are strange places. If it weren’t for the deep blue waters and jungle forests surrounding these little quirks, you might think you were in Namibia or Saudi Arabia.

4-Wheeling in Mui Ne © Hey Explorer/Flickr

Mekong Delta

Before the Mekong River finishes its journey, it splits into a maze of rivers that give south Vietnam its unique ecosystem of flooded plains and mangrove forests.

Waterway feeding into the Mekong River © Terrazzo/Flickr

Bắc Sơn District

This area of odd topography and amazing views is in the northeast of Vietnam, in Lạng Sơn Province. It’s sparsely populated, but ripe with beautiful scenes.

Bac Son in Lang Son Province © Jimmy Tran/Shutterstock

Ba Bể Lake

This lake is part of the Ba Bể National Park in northeast Vietnam. It’s the largest natural lake in the country, enclosed by limestone cliffs and old-growth forests.

Ba Be Lake © Quang Nguyen Vinh/Shutterstock

Ban Gioc Waterfall

These waterfalls are the largest in Vietnam—by volume, not height—and they straddle the border with China to the north. Those on the more adventurous side of traveling can rent a motorbike and make the spectacular journey on their own, but there are plenty of tours and shuttles as well.

The Ban Gioc Waterfalls, Vietnam © Tuan Le/Flickr

Ninh Bình Province

This area is famous for its karst scenery—limestone formations jutting out like dragon humps. There’s hiking, tours of grottoes and boat rides along the rivers. For some of the most picturesque views, head to the town of Tam Cốc.

Ninh Binh © John Bill / Shutterstock

Phú Quốc Island

Phú Quốc Island is found off the southern coast of Vietnam, near the border with Cambodia. For many, this island has the best beaches in the country, and although developments are swallowing much of the coastline, the island still has a chill vibe for those looking to relax.

Beach on Phu Quoc Island © Flashpacker Travelguide/Flickr

Đà Lạt

This little mountain village was once the mountain playground for the colonial French in Vietnam. Nowadays, it’s a favorite honeymoon destination for young lovers from the south. Tour companies offer many different excursions out to see the hills, lakes and farms around the outskirts of the city.

Aerial View of Da Lat © Tri Nguyen/TravelCoffeeBook

Chàm Islands

It only takes two hours to get to these islands from Hội An or Đà Nẵng, but there aren’t many places to stay overnight. Life on these islands is significantly more laid-back than the rest of Vietnam, which is why they are popular with people looking to slow down after some time in the cities.

A beach on one of the Cham Islands © Guerretto/Flickr