The Best Ecotourism Experiences in Vietnam

Going on a bike ride through Vietnam's natural landscapes is one of the many ways you can practice ecotourism on your next visit here
Going on a bike ride through Vietnam's natural landscapes is one of the many ways you can practice ecotourism on your next visit here | © Jaromír Chalabala / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Katie Kalmusky
6 September 2021

Ecotourism is growing in Vietnam as visitors become more mindful of minimising their impact on the beautiful lands through which they travel. Looking for a good-to-the-planet adventure? Here are the best ecotourism experiences in the country.

Looking to see the best of Vietnam? Join our 12-day, small-group adventure led by our Local Insider. You’ll embark on a junk ship-style cruise, sample delicious street food and learn qiqong in a Zen house – plus much, much more.

Boating along the Ngô Đồng River in Ninh Bình

Historical Landmark
Tourists being rowed on a boat into a cave, surrounded by trees, in Ninh Binh
© Daniele Falletta / Alamy Stock Photo

Travellers visiting Tam Cốc-Bích Động will be stunned by the Hang Cả, Hang Hai and Hang Ba caves on the Ngô Đồng River in the northern Ninh Bình province. Bích Động refers to a beautiful pagoda complex built in the 15th century. This area is a Unesco World Heritage site and will take your breath away with its limestone mountains, lazy rivers, serene rice fields and bright blue skies. The gorgeous natural beauty makes this area a top ecodestination in Vietnam.

Trekking through Cát Tiên National Park

Natural Feature, Park
Early morning view of Crocodile Swamp deep inside Cat Tien National Park.
© Anders Blomqvist / Alamy Stock Photo

This national park is approximately 150km (93mi) from Ho Chi Minh City making it an easy weekend getaway from the big city. Here you will see lots of wildlife – including poisonous snakes, so watch those trails – and enormous ancient trees. The humid air is perfumed with the scent of more than 100 orchid species growing in the forest. This park was named Vietnam’s sixth World Biosphere Reserve and tour guides aim to increase environmental awareness with every guided trek. From Ho Chi Minh City, take a tour that includes transportation, meals, treks and accommodation at a basic guesthouse.

Boating on Ba Bể Lake

Natural Feature
Ba Be National Park,Vietnam
© Galyna Andrushko / Alamy Stock Photo

This beautiful lake is the largest in Vietnam. Nestled among mountains, Ba Bể Lake sits northeast of Hanoi. In the early morning, boat tours can take you onto the smooth waters to watch the rising mist – or you could gaze at a romantic sunset in the evening. Departing from Hanoi, you can book an overnight trip with Culture Trip which includes transportation, meals, boating and a local homestay.

Visiting Cúc Phương National Park

Natural Feature
Vietnam, Ninh Binh Province, Cuc Phuong National Park, Ban Hieu, valley
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

Another glorious destination in northern Vietnam, Cúc Phương National Park lies 120km (74mi) southwest of Hanoi. Here you will see 1,000-year-old trees, lush forests, ancient caves and small lakes – it’s a wonder to behold. Escape to this protected, pristine park by booking a one-day or multi-day jungle trek from Hanoi through the official park website.

Biking through Mai Châu Town

Natural Feature
Woman riding a bicycle a rice field near Lac Village, Mai Chau valley, Vietnam. Beautiful fall sunset during harvest time.
© studiolaska / Alamy Stock Photo

This enchanting town is perfect for anyone seeking an authentic local experience in Vietnam, and you can visit with Culture Trip on our exclusive 12-day Vietnam adventure, led by our Local Insider. Similar to personalised homestays in Sa Pa, the people in Mai Châu offer lovely homestays and the opportunity to experience the local culture and cuisine. Traditional music shows are also put on in the evenings by the locals.

Trekking through Ha Giang

Natural Feature
Quan Ba Heaven Gate, Ha Giang, Vietnam. Quan Ba is a rural district of Ha Giang province in the Northeast region of Vietnam.
© Phong Tran / Alamy Stock Photo
Ha Giang province borders China in northern Vietnam. This remote location is perfect if you’re seeking a multi-day trekking experience. Trekking tours through Ha Giang range from five to 13 days and itineraries include touring rice terraces, limestone karsts and visiting minority villages. The view from the Ma Pi Leng Pass is surreal. You can book a range of tour packages with Culture Trip – from two-day hikes to off-road motorcycling adventures.

Biking and trekking tours in Sa Pa

Natural Feature
Rows and rows of terraced rice paddies in broken sunshine from above near Sa Pa, in northern Vietnam
© Arthur Greenberg / Alamy Stock Photo

If Phan Xi Păng is a little daunting, you can easily spend several days touring Sa Pa, widely known as one of the most beautiful locations in Vietnam. The town is largely made up of ethnic minorities such as the H’Mong, Tay and Dao people. You can book an epic three-night tour to Sa Pa with Culture Trip, which offers authentic homestays and a return transfer from Hanoi.

Hiking up Phan Xi Păng

Natural Feature
The summit beautiful landscape of Fansipan or Phan Xi Pang mountain the highest mountain in Indochina at Sapa Vietnam
© Ronnachai Limpakdeesavasd / Alamy Stock Photo

Phan Xi Păngoften anglicized as Fansipan – is also known as the Roof of Indochina for being the tallest mountain in the region at 3,143m (10,311ft). This trek is not for the faint-hearted as it’s a challenging ascent, but the summit views are brilliant. Throughout the climb, you’ll encounter fields of gorgeous flowers, lush rainforests and bamboo bushes. Treks normally take three days leaving from Hanoi, and many include a stopover in Sa Pa. If climbing isn’t for you, ride the cable car – but beware of the mass of fellow riders at the summit. Departing from Hanoi, this two-day trek takes you up the mountain through the jungle and is led by local H’Mong guides.

Biking tours in the Mekong Delta

Natural Feature
Local culture
© Avalon / Getty Images

These multi-day tours begin in the southern city of Ho Chi Minh City, a bustling metropolis with a population of nearly 9m people. Watching the city fade in the distance as you cycle into glorious natural surroundings is an amazing sight in itself. Whether you choose to visit for one day or several – you’ll cycle through fields of sugar cane, banana plantations, narrow country lanes and across water channels. This is the perfect getaway from the big city for anyone with a love for bikes. This day tour available to book with Culture Trip takes you through the Ben Tre province, which is also the site where the American War (Vietnam War) began.

Eco-Adventures in Cao Bằng

Natural Feature
2BE48HN Ban Gioc Waterfall, Cao Bang, Vietnam
© Design Pics Inc / Alamy Stock Photo

Cao Bằng is a remote area in the north of Vietnam offering more spectacular views of surrounding mountains, waterfalls, rice terraces and rivers. Cao Bang Geopark was recognised by Unesco for its historic significance and geological heritage. Fresh air, local culture and remarkable scenery await the eco-minded traveller. Many multi-day tours departing from Hanoi will take you into Cao Bang and other mountain towns such as Dong Van and Tam Son – plus an abundance of scenic waterfalls, hidden caves and pristine lakes.

These recommendations were updated on September 6, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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