The 10 Best Ecotourism Experiences in Vietnam

Heavenly views from Ma Pi Leng Pass, Ha Giang. |©Thoai/Shutterstock
Heavenly views from Ma Pi Leng Pass, Ha Giang. |©Thoai/Shutterstock | ©Thoai/Shutterstock
Photo of Katie Kalmusky
30 May 2018

Ecotourism is becoming more popular in Vietnam as visitors become more mindful of minimizing their impact on the beautiful lands they travel through. Vietnam is quickly providing numerous ecotourism experiences for the environmentally mindful tourist and here are some of the best ones to choose from.

Note that there is a vast array of travel companies to choose from to suit all budgets, but the more friends that tag along the cheaper the tours will be!

Boating along the Ngô Đồng River in Ninh Bình

Tourists travel down the Ngo Dong river in Tam Coc, Vietnam. | ©Quang Vu/Shutterstock

Literally meaning “three caves”, travelers visiting Tam Cốc-Bích Động will be stunned by the Hang Cả, Hang Hai, and Hang Ba caves that are situated on the Ngô Đồng River in northern Ninh Bình province. Bích Động refers to a beautiful pagoda complex built in the fifteenth 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 destination in Vietnam.

Viator hosts popular day trips that include a visit to the ancient Hoa Lu citadel and a boat ride along the Ngô Đồng River. Prices hover at $45.00 USD for a day trip from Hanoi.

Trekking through Cát Tiên National Park

This stunning national park is approximately 150 km. from Ho Chi Minh City making it an easy weekend getaway from the big city. Here you will see many species of tropical birds, wildlife (including poisonous snakes – watch those trails!), and enormous, ancient trees. The humid air is perfumed with the scent of over 100 species of orchids growing in the forest. This park was named Vietnam’s 6th World Biosphere Reserve and tour guides aim to increase environmental awareness with every guided trek.

There are several companies offering tours from Ho Chi Minh City but Sinh Balo adventure travel company is a popular choice. They offer combination tours from Ho Chi Minh City to Cát Tiên that include transportation, meals, treks and accommodation at a basic guesthouse. Solo trips are pricey so rope in some friends and expect to pay at least $200 USD (depending on group size).

Boating on Ba Bể Lake

Beautiful Ba Be Lake, Vietnam. | ©Supermop/Shutterstock

This beautiful lake is the largest in Vietnam. Nestled among surrounding mountains, Ba Bể Lake sits northeast of Hanoi. There are boat tours that will take you out into the smooth waters during the day where you can watch the mist rise off the water in the morning, admire the clear waters in the afternoon, and gaze at a romantic sunset in the evening. This dreamy location makes for an idyllic scenic trip so make sure to bring your camera.

Day Tours Hanoi offers an overnight trip from the capital and includes transportation, meals, boating, and a local homestay. Prices start at $206 USD for a solo traveler and decrease depending on group size.

Visiting Cúc Phương National Park

Another glorious destination in northern Vietnam, Cúc Phương National Park lies 120 km southwest of Hanoi. Here you will see thousand-year-old trees, lush forests, ancient caves, and small lakes – it really is a wonder to behold. A trip here from any big city will have your modern-day worries melting away in no time. Escape to this protected, pristine park by booking a one-day or multi-day jungle trek from Hanoi through the park’s official website.

Biking through Mai Châu Town

Homestays nestled on a hillside in Mai Chau, Vietnam. | ©Carl Dupont/Shutterstock

This enchanting town is perfect for anyone seeking a true local experience in Vietnam. Similar to authentic homestays in Sa Pa, the local Thai 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. Check out Mai Chau’s local tour company for booking information.

Trekking through Ha Giang

Heavenly views from Ma Pi Leng Pass, Ha Giang. | ©Thoai/Shutterstock

Ha Giang province borders China in northern Vietnam. This remote, stunning location is perfect for travelers seeking a multi-day trekking experience. Trekking tours through Ha Giang range from 5-13 days and itineraries include touring breathtaking rice terraces, limestone karsts, and visiting minority villages. The view from the province’s Ma Pi Leng Pass is surreal. Trekking Ha Giang offers an excellent selection of tour packages, from quick hikes to two-week adventures. Note that the price depends on tour length and group size.

Biking and Trekking Tours in Sa Pa

Clouds floating over the terraced fields of Sapa, Vietnam. | © Jorge Cancela/Flickr

If Phan Xi Păng is a little too daunting, you can easily spend several days touring Sapa, 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 peoples. You can book your tour through tour company Sapa O’Chau, which also offers authentic homestays and sees profits going back into the community.

Hiking up Phan Xi Păng

Phan Xi Păng, often Anglicized as Fansipan, is also known as “the Roof of Indochina” for being the tallest mountain in the region at 3,143 meters. This trek is not for the faint of 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 lovely Sa Pa. If climbing isn’t for you, buy a $22 USD ticket and ride the cable car but beware of the mass of fellow riders at the summit!

Sapa O’Chau offers treks up the mountain. The recommended two-day trek costs $110 USD per person in a group of six.

Biking Tours in the Mekong Delta

These multi-day tours begin in the southern city of Saigon, a bustling metropolis with a population of nearly nine million people. Seeing the city fade in the distance as you cycle into glorious natural surroundings is an amazing sight in itself! Over the course of several days (4-6) you will 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 an affinity for traveling several days on a bicycle. Check out Vietnam by Bike for tour packages and more information.

Eco-Adventures in Cao Bang

Cao Bang 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 recently recognized by UNESCO for its historic significance and geological heritage. Fresh air, local culture, and remarkable scenery await the eco-minded traveler in Cao Bang. You can create a custom tour with Buffalo Tours to take you through Cao Bang or find one of many agencies offering tours out of Hanoi.

There are numerous companies offering eco-tours in Vietnam but you should still always be mindful of maintaining Vietnam’s natural beauty. As always, take only pictures and leave only footprints!

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