Many first-time visitors to Vietnam are surprised to find it is not all just one giant jungle. Many movies about the US–Vietnam War depict scenes of intense fighting in humid jungles, which has given some tourists the idea that this is all the country has to offer.
In fact, Vietnam is home to various landscapes that can be divided into four general categories: river deltas, the central highlands, the central coastline, and the mountainous northern region.
No matter what kind of landscape you would like to see, chances are you can find it in Vietnam. Follow the links at the end of the article for information on tours to different regions with Asia Highlights.
Iconic River Deltas
No trip to Vietnam would be complete without laying your eyes on one of the country’s mighty river deltas. These sprawling ecosystems have come to symbolize the landscape of Vietnam, where river and ocean meet.
The Red River Delta
The Red River Delta is one of the most densely populated areas outside of a major city. Its fertile land provides plentifully for its inhabitants. Most of the land is dedicated to rice farming, but tourists who are unfamiliar with paddy farming will still find this landscape unique and exotic.
What to Expect: Expect the rural landscape of the Red River Delta to offer you a glimpse of traditional Vietnamese life, as it merges with the modern age. The delta resembles a sprawling maze of rivers cutting through rice fields. You can explore these on guided boats, or by bus.
The Mekong River Delta
Somewhat more famous and considerably larger than the Red River Delta is the Mekong River Delta, in the south of the country.
Located due west of Ho Chi Minh City and spanning 39,000 square kilometers, the Mekong Delta is easy to reach. It’s difficult, however, to see all of it, made up as it is of a system of distributaries that empty the Mekong River into the gulf below.
The delta represents one of the richest and most diverse ecosystems in the world and is home to thousands of unique plants and animals. It also provides generously for its inhabitants. Visit the famous floating markets to see locally-grown produce and to find souvenirs.
What to Expect: The Mekong River Delta is a massive expanse of land, so what you should expect to find depends on exactly where you are going.
If you travel with Asia Highlights on one of our tours, a guide will take you to the largest floating market and assist you in navigating its confusing waterways.
The Central Highlands
The Central Highlands region refers to well, just that – the central part of the country. Typically when talking about the central highlands, locals will be referring to the area between the cities Dalat and Hoi An.
This area is less traveled than the deltas and coasts, which makes it an attractive destination for travelers looking for a more isolated or ‘off the beaten track’ experience.
What to Expect: This part of the country features rolling hills, mixed forests, and drier air than the coastal regions. Navigating through the central highlands can be difficult, as public bus or private car are the only two reliable options. You can expect to see sweeping vistas and cascading waterfalls.
The city of Dalat looks like it could belong in the mountains of Europe, as it is surrounded by pine forests and large hills. It is equipped for tourists and will feel comfortable and familiar to westerners. Dalat is an excellent hub for travelers interested in hiking or biking.
The Central Coastline
From Halong Bay to the southern tip of the country, Vietnam’s coastline is one of the most magnificent in the world. The whole central coastline, however, is dotted with beautiful beaches and serene islands, and all of these are tourist-friendly.
An Bang Beach
An Bang Beach is close enough to Hoi An to make it a good destination for a day-trip from there.
An Bang offers clean sand and clear blue waters. Take a boat from the main beach to the Cham Islands, or just enjoy the sun in a rentable chair. Vendors may approach you, but generally the atmosphere is peaceful.
Nha Trang Beach
Nha Trang is a realatively small coastal city located on the southern end of the Central Coastline. Its beaches are beautiful, as the city relies on tourism and frequently maintains them.
The city, however, has developed considerably over the last few years and some visitors think this has tended to destroy the scenery. The mutual proximity of city and beach make it a good destination for travelers seeking both.
The Northern Mountains
Visitors who wish to see something other than beaches and deltas may find the cool air of the northern mountains more pleasing.
Be aware that the mountains here rise to an average of around 1,600 meters above sea level and temperatures can change quickly and dramatically. Pack more than a swimsuit, if the mountains are your destination of choice.
For the best experience possible, travel with Asia Highlights on our 13-day tour, including a stop for trekking in Sapa. The tour will start with a walk around the village of Cat Cat and continue with a 3-hour walk to Y Linh Ho village, where you can enjoy lunch with views of the mountain valleys.
After two more hours of trekking the tour concludes in Lao Chai. On the way, you will experience rice paddies and breath-taking views.
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