James Travel

Hidden Places to Visit in Vietnam Revealed!

As a Vietnamese, I know my country has so much to offer for a great holiday in Southeast Asia. Cheerily, some destinations already have their worldwide reputations, but some still remain in a treasure box that awaits travelers to explore more.

There comes my motivation to share with you hidden places to visit in Vietnam, all of which are my favorite picks across the country from North to South. Since I’m still traveling to see my beautiful Vietnam, this list is expected to be longer each year. I hope to pull out as many stunning places of my home country as possible.

Not let you wait anymore, let’s start the first stop in the North.

1. Duong Lam Ancient Village - a lesser-known village alongside Red River

There’s no better way to learn about Vietnam than to experience the quintessential atmosphere of its rural villages. And you know what? Duong Lam Ancient Village is one of the most convenient and best-kept secret places in Vietnam to visit!

This ancient village sits along the banks of the Red River and is a quaint place bathed in nostalgic beauty. For those interested in history and architecture or simply want to feel as if time stood still, Duong Lam is a must-visit.

The village is dotted with centuries-old houses made of traditional materials, and the long winding roads, banyan trees, traditional wells, courtyards, pagodas, and temples paint a scene straight out of history books.

The first lunar month of each year is the best time to see this village come to life. Duong Lam transforms into a colorful display of life, sounds, and culture, a wonderful contrast to an otherwise peaceful and sleepy community!

Facts About Duong Lam Ancient Village

This village was the first to be officially recognized as a historical and cultural relic in Vietnam. The buildings and structures are over 400 years old and give a beautiful insight into what rural life was like back in the day.

Duong Lam is also the resting place of two ancient kings, Ngo Quyen and Phung Hung, who are at peace in the village to this day. Many of the beautiful temples around the village were built in their honor.

The village is currently maintained as a National Historic and Cultural Monument, though many local residents live there full-time. You’ll also encounter many people who travel to the village to sell tea, sweets, food, tours, craft workshops, and other experiences.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Duong Lam’s slow-paced life will embrace you with its arms steeped in history.

What You Need to Know

Entrance to the village is very reasonable (20,000 VND/ 0.81 USD or less). Since Duong Lam still imprints the rural lifestyle, you’ll want to bring cash to buy food and other stuff you find on the road just in case they don’t accept cards.

To be respectful of the serene nature of the village, it is best to walk, cycle, or rent an electric buggy.

Top Tips

2. Bai Tu Long Bay - a perfect alternative to Halong Bay but way less touristy

If you’ve been researching a trip to Vietnam, you’ve probably come across Halong Bay, literally the top 3 keywords about Vietnam destinations (besides Hanoi and Saigon). This World Wonder that Vietnam possesses is unquestionably breathtaking but that, together with its global reputation has made it very touristy, especially during the peak season.

So the question is do you need to sacrifice your peace to see the dramatic seascape and jutting islands of Northern Vietnam? My answer is no. In fact, there’s another place you can visit to appreciate the limestone pillars and shimmering aquamarine waters just up the road if you go a little further to the East of Halong Bay — Bai Tu Long Bay!

There’s no doubt in my mind that Bai Tu Long Bay deserves a spot on your bucket list. This picturesque location is just as beautiful as the more popular Halong, but you don’t need to fight for your place in the crowd!

Lose yourself in the labyrinth of karsts rising steeply from the waters and enjoy the moderately warm temperatures in the area. In Bai Tu Long, you’ll marvel at the towering peaks of these islands, contributing to the sense of wonder and awe that grips every visitor.

Even better, the bay holds many secret nooks and crannies such as beaches, villages, and caves, leaving so much room for an exploration experience like no other.

Fact About Bai Tu Long Bay

As one of the hidden places in Vietnam, the Bai Tu Long Bay has an interesting myth. The name, Bai Tu Long, means “to bow down to the dragon’s offspring”, referring to a famous legend in which the children of the fierce dragon who defended Halong Bay settled at Bai Tu Long.

What You Need to Know

You can reach Bai Tu Long by car or bus from Hanoi, which takes around three hours, and then hop on an overnight cruise to the bay itself. The cruise can offer a transfer service or not, depending on each cruise’s policy.

The Bai Tu Long cruise ranges from day trip to multi-day tour, from affordable to luxury cruise ships, offering meal service and activities like kayaking and visiting caves.

Top Tips

3. Hai Phong - best Northern hidden gem for foodies

If you love Vietnam’s vibrant city culture, you’ll have an even better appreciation for it by exploring all the lovely food places to dig in!

(Credit: Bach Hoa XANH)

And while Hanoi might be a safe choice for you, venture a little further out to the port city of Hai Phong for the best street food spots in the country. Trust that your stomach will know why it’s one of the most unique places to visit in Vietnam!

Facts About Hai Phong

Hai Phong is known historically for being the site of many triumphant battles, as well as once serving as a secondary capital of the country.

Today, it’s an important port and industrial center as well as a popular vacation destination. It’s smaller than Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, with a population of around two million.

What You Need to Know

The food-centered culture in the city is insane. Local foodies flock to Hai Phong so much that the city has released a food tour map as a guide for those who want to enjoy the culinary delights here as much as possible! (Just regret that they haven’t had the English version yet, but I guess it is not difficult to google map!)

Don’t be overwhelmed by the choices and don’t overthink when to go either. Hai Phong’s food and drinks rise with the sun and don’t end until deep in the night, so there’s always something to enjoy around the clock.

Feel free to slurp the rice noodle soup with crab meat (banh da cua), munch on baguette sticks with hearty fillings (banh my cay), fermented pork rolls, rice cakes, or dumplings like banh beo, sui din, exotic options like snails, seafood, and more!

For refreshing drinks and desserts, keep your eyes peeled for treats like coconut sweet dessert (che dua dam), coconut milk coffee, chamomile tea, and other sweets you can’t miss out on.

Top Tips

4. Lang Co Beach, Hue - a pure beach coast between Danang and Hue

Lang Co is a beautiful, tranquil stretch of beach between Danang and Hue, making it the perfect pitstop if you’re anywhere between these places. As this strip of shore is hiding in plain sight, it’s one of the most wonderful unexplored places in Vietnam.

It’s a serene and idyllic place that’s best described as having a little bit of everything — white sand, gentle, blue waters, and picturesque mountains as a backdrop.

Whether you’re here for just a couple of hours or an entire beach day, Lang Co’s clean and sparkling scenery will never disappoint.

Facts About Lang Co Beach, Hue

If you have the luxury of visiting Vietnam anytime from April to July, you should seriously consider visiting Lang Co in its sunniest and least rainy season. Aside from those months, this beautiful beach is out of peak season which is even more peaceful, calm, and virtually empty!

But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see or do in the area. Taking a stroll during sunrise is a perfect way to experience the warm breeze and nice views, and you could even chance upon a couple of restaurants along the way!

You can also catch the sunset near the southern end of Lang Co, which is bounded to the west by a small lagoon. Feel free to go fishing, rent a boat, sunbathe, or stay a couple of days in the nearby quaint village to make the most of your time.

What You Need to Know

If you’re departing from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, you can easily get a train to Hue and travel from there to Lang Co Beach.

The country fortunately has a North-South rail route that traverses scenic routes such as the Hai Van Pass and Lang Co, making for some memorable spots along the way!

Top Tips

5. Datanla Waterfall, Dalat - an exciting adventure awaits in the central highland

Dalat, the city of eternal spring, is already a romantic destination for its dreamy and poetic vibe. But maybe you don’t know that it is also a lesser-known land for amazing adventure. I also wasn’t aware of that until I knew about Datanla Waterfall.

(Credit: Dalattourist)

The rushing rapids and the broad appearance of the falls have attracted visitors over the years, but this is still a hidden gem waiting for you. Watching the falls isn’t the only thing you can do here, there are also physical activities for the brave.

Facts About Datanla Waterfall

Legend has it that the waterfall was once a hiding place for the indigenous people of the area and saved them during times of war.

This 20-meter-high falls branch out into multiple different streams, all cascading down the rocky steps into a deep pool at the bottom. If you want to enjoy the relaxing sight of the water, feel free to stay by the bridge. But if you’re raring for an adventure, you hit on the right path.

What You Need to Know

While the falls itself deserves a spot on your Instagram feed, many people come here for the adrenaline-pumping activities surrounding the waterfall!

A number of activity areas are available near the falls. Adrenaline junkies will feel right at home with ziplines that take you blazing through the air and getting a bird’s eye view of the falls and the forest below!

If you want to challenge yourself, there’s also a high rope course that dangles you high above the whole scenery. Want something a little less daring but would still get your heart pumping? Hitch a ride on the alpine coaster and enjoy the falls like no other!

It’s free to just go take a look or a three to five-dollar cost to ride the rides, with additional affordable fees for the other activities! You can find the falls just a few miles outside of Dalat.

Top Tips

6. Mang Den, Kontum - a new ecotourism destination with unspoiled nature

Located northeast of Kon Tum City, Mang Den is a newly formed township situated in the middle of some stunning and diverse nature.

In this paradise on Earth, feast your eyes on the rolling hills, lush green forests, and a number of gentle rivers and streams, poetic lakes, and majestic waterfalls strewn all over Mang Den.

I can say that this flourishing township tops the list of unexplored places in Vietnam. The area has a sleepy, quite mystic atmosphere that’s sure to be a core memory!

Facts About Mang Den

Mang Den was constructed in 2003 and made an official town in 2019. This area is located in the heart of Vietnam and offers unspoiled natural beauty. Mang Den is secluded in nature, has a small and vibrant local population, and offers an amazing getaway for a peaceful retreat.

What You Need to Know

Mang Den is about an hour’s drive from Kon Tum City, or about two from Pleiku (which houses the nearest airport). There are buses and cabs available, but it’s better to have your own transport if you can!

The town is best described as nature seamlessly melding into human settlements. Feel free to explore any of the four community-based cultural villages in Mang Den, exploring pagodas and temples that blend into the trees, and taking in the local culture.

For your accommodation, there are many homestays and basic hotels available, but camping is also a welcome choice if you really want to get in touch with nature.

Once you’re ready, it’s time to explore the beautiful environment surrounding Mang Den! Trek to the lakes and enjoy a slow and quiet time in a canoe, or hunt as many of the hidden waterfalls in the area as you can.

One thing you should never miss out on is cloud hunting atop Konplong. Make the hike by dawn and watch as the sun rises over the sea of clouds — it’s one of the most breathtaking activities in the area!

Oh, and make sure to try the local food. From forest banana salad and grilled chicken to fried crickets, the culinary delights are a memorable highlight!

Top Tips

7. Buon Me Thuot - the humble capital of Vietnamese coffee

Buon Me Thuot is a small city in southwest Vietnam but this capital of the Dak Lak province has a unique experience to offer — all the city bustle amid scenic coffee plantations!

Aside from the aroma of coffee beans in this Vietnamese hub for the drink, the city also boasts stunning natural beauty, waterfalls, and lush landscapes as far as the eye can see.

Facts About Buon Me Thuot

The city is on the smaller side, with a population of around 400,000, but it has a vibrant and lively culture! Coffee is the way of life in this gem of the Central Highlands, so it’s no surprise that many cultural activities here revolve around the drink.

Buon Me Thuot boasts of being the “coffee kingdom” of the country as it’s located near major coffee-producing sites. For coffee lovers, cafe hopping is a surefire way to taste all the city has to offer!

What You Need to Know

Coffee lovers, look here — the World Coffee Museum is a must-see!

You can learn all about the history and even spirituality of this beloved brew and even sample some of the finest coffee in the world. It’s the perfect excuse for a getaway that honors this beloved drink, so keep this location atop your itinerary.

Entrance only to the museum is around $6, and add-on services or workshops will be additional charged.

Since you’re in the heart of the coffee capital, visit coffee farms or plantations, sip coffee in the iconic Trung Nguyen Coffee Village, and sample one-of-a-kind brews in specialty cafes!

After getting your caffeine buzz, you can’t miss out on the surrounding natural beauty. Head for Dray Nur Waterfall, about half an hour out of the city, and enjoy this stunning sight that not a lot of people know about!

Top Tips

8. Mui Dien, Phu Yen - an Instagrammable coastal line replicating Vietnam’s S-shape

Want some more vitamin Sea? It’s time for you to head to what’s perhaps one of the most prized secret places in Vietnam — the Mui Dien in Phu Yen!

What I like about this place is the coast itself features a stunning S shape, almost a perfect miniature of Vietnam! This spot offers an amazing view high above the sea, so it’s perfect for a killer photo op or a chance to soak up the picturesque scenery. Besides that, don’t forget to admire the azure color of the sea. I had to make a stop on my way to just stand in front of this beautiful landscape, take a deep breath of ocean and that’s the most incredible feeling I’ve ever had.

Facts About Mui Dien

Mui Den peninsula is located on a stretch of the CT01 between Tuy Hòa and Nha Trang.

It’s a stunning drive along Vietnam’s east coast, with the region around Mui Dien being particularly spectacular. There are plenty of stops for lookouts, short walks, and dramatic landscapes that deserve a spot on your social media accounts!

There’s even a noble lighthouse standing guard near the edge, which makes for some nice photos.

What You Need to Know

It’s a good idea to bring your own food and drinks, though there are normally some vendors around. It can get quite cold and windy in winter and at night, so pack warm clothing even though you may be unlikely to need it in other regions.

Top Tips

9. Chau Doc, An Giang - an unpopular beauty hidden in the Mekong Delta

Moving downward to the Southern part – the Mekong Delta, I know tourists are more aware of the floating market, flooded tropical forest, or Cu Chi Tunnel,… But what I have experienced in this thriving land is so much more than what it is perceived. Let me introduce to you the unbeaten path of Mekong Delta – Chau Doc and highly recommend it to those who love temples, culture, and history.

Facts About Chau Doc

Chau Doc truly stands out as one of the most unique destinations to explore in Vietnam. The city is filled with rich history and surrounded by the beauty of nature!

Chau Doc City, situated on the border between Vietnam and Cambodia, holds a rich history as a site of territorial disputes, bustling trade, and cultural exchange.

It is the ancestral homeland of the Cham, a historic people of Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia. Chau Doc is filled with a rich culture that brings vibrant color and unique food and architecture.

What You Need to Know

You can reach Chau Doc within a three-hour drive from Can Tho, the nearest major urban center.

If you’re coming straight from Ho Chi Minh City, it will take roughly six hours (not including stops). I know, it sounds like a long journey but that makes Chau Doc a true hidden gem. Taking a luxury cruise from Can Tho or Cambodia is also a popular option.

There are a number of slower activities you can do in the area! For nature lovers, head over to Tra Su Cajuput Forest and try to spot as many of the local bird species as you can.

Don’t forget to visit Chau Doc’s floating village and learn more about the community that has made the Hau River their home — literally!

This is also the place to be if you want to go temple-hopping. There are over 200 temples in the area, such as the Ba Chua Xu Temple, The Forbidden Mountain, and Chau Phu Temple. With rich histories and cultures, these temples have a lot of tales to offer.

Top Tips

10. Con Dao Islands - a true beach escape off the Southern coast of Vietnam

The Con Dao Islands is an archipelago off the southern coast of Vietnam, and it takes a bit more effort to reach than the usual spots. That’s why this stunning archipelago with all its beaches and lush jungles makes my list of unexplored Vietnam to visit for my foreign friends!

Facts About Con Dao Island

The Con Dao Island is a hidden gem in every sense of the word. Not a lot of tourists find their way to this remote part of the country, which is a shame because of how picturesque its secluded beaches are!

The majority of the island is covered by Con Dao National Park, a rich and vibrant protected jungle brimming with local wildlife and adventure.

But this scenic paradise was also the site of a dark history.

Con Dao is also known for housing the Con Dao Prison. Political prisoners and dissidents were confined here in inhumane conditions, subjected to torture, and forced to endure a harrowing daily life.

It was only after the Reunification that the government abolished the prison and instead rededicated it as a special national monument.

That is why many tourists come to Con Dao — not only for the tranquil views but also for a solemn commemoration of Vietnam’s past.

What You Need to Know

If you want to reach Con Dao by plane, there’s only one domestic plane option from Ho Chi Minh City by Vietnam Airlines! The plane ride takes roughly an hour, perfect for catching some snooze or admiring the Vietnamese landscape from high up. Besides the flying option, you can choose to book a seat on a freshly-launched vessel namely Côn Đảo Express departing from Nha Be, Saigon to Con Dao for a more affordable price.

Once you’re on the island, transport by bike or motorcycle is your best bet!

The island is mostly flat and transversable, though some parts of the national park are only accessible by foot.

To make the most of your time on the island, you can go beach hunting or even book an adventure tour like snorkeling or scuba diving. While the national park covers most of the island, exploring the wildlife and exotic ecosystem of this sacred island is worth it.

If you’re lucky, time your visit to Con Dao between May and December to participate in a rare opportunity involving baby turtles releasing!

Many hotels and accommodation spots offer ethical activities surrounding baby turtles, such as hatching tours, observing turtles from afar, and even releasing baby turtles into the sea.

Top Tips

That’s my first 10 picks of undiscovered places to visit in Vietnam. I hope you’ll enjoy exploring these gems as much as I did. Stay tuned, because I’ll come back with more interesting discoveries of my beautiful Vietnam.

Related Posts