Vietnam is a fascinating country to visit for its historical, cultural and natural attractions. I'm going to focus on the latter in this post and give you a bit of information about a few of the best places to visit if you want to see Vietnam's nature in all its glory.
Possibly the most famous of Vietnam's natural attractions, Halong Bay is a breathtaking sight to behold. This vast expanse of water is home to some 1,600 islands, many of which are impressive limestone pillars that tower above the bay.
This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its outstanding scenic beauty and, unsurprisingly, the best way to see it is by boat. There are numerous cruises that depart every day, allowing you to get a close-up view of the amazing limestone cliffs, arches and caves that are dotted around the bay.
Phong Nha Cave
The Phong Nha cave is part of one of the most impressive systems of subterranean caverns and passageways in the world. This particular cave is some 44.5 kilometres long and it's possible to venture inside in a boat, allowing you to see some of the outstanding rock formations in the vast chamber.
Phong Nha actually translates as "cave of teeth", with the name referring to the stalactites that hang down from the roof of the cavern. Tour boats are only allowed to travel into the first kilometre of the cave, but that's certainly far enough to make an impression!
The great thing about exploring this attraction is that it's within the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, which is another of Vietnam's UNESCO World Heritage sites. This region is a karst landscape and boasts swathes of forest and sections of savannah in addition to its caves, with a wide variety of wildlife inhabiting the protected area.
Con Dao Islands
This island chain off the south coast of Vietnam is a real delight to explore, with beautiful beaches, coral reefs and areas of forest found on the 16 isles that make up the group. One of the best ways to experience the natural beauty here is to go snorkelling over the vibrant corals, looking out for the numerous fish and crustaceans that inhabit the reef.
Another reason to visit the Con Dao Islands is for the chance to see a turtle nesting site. A sanctuary has been established to protect the breeding areas and you can take a tour to (hopefully) watch turtles laying their eggs, or even see baby turtles emerging from the nests after hatching. Be aware, though, that the turtle nesting season is between June and September.
Vietnam is the perfect place to discover and savour a new culture, so follow the wise words of Mark Twain whom I quote here:
"Twenty years from now you will be more dissapointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowliness, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
So go on, start a journey of discovery. Vietnam will not leave you indiferent.