Vietnam’s lesser known destinations and when to visit

Choosing when and where to visit is essential

Vietnam is a year-round vacation destination with a sharp seasonal contrast between the north and south of the country. Choosing when to visit (and where) can be essential. A little rain is all that is necessary to admire the expansive fields of lush green paddies scattered with people tending to their crops while wearing conical hats. However, depending on when you travel to Vietnam, you might want to avoid the clouds altogether. 

Read our guide to Vietnam travel

The best months to visit if you want to travel the entire length of the nation are between February and April or between August and October when temperatures are generally moderate and rainfall is at a minimum.

The village of Y Ty is at the extreme north of Vietnam.

Quy Nhon

Quy Nhon rightfully deserves a place on your itinerary if you're hoping to avoid the crowds, eat locally caught seafood, unwind on pristine beaches, and discover the unadulterated beauty of rural Vietnam.

The vibrant fishing city of Quy Nhon has long been a well-liked weekend getaway for wealthy locals and expats despite being somehow missed off the tourist's radar. Although Quy Nhon is home to the Binh Dinh Museum and the Long Khanh Pagoda, both of which date back to the 18th century, the city's main attractions are its dining scene and long stretches of golden sand, each of which is in and of themselves deserving of a visit.

BEST TIME TO VISIT? The dry season, which runs from March to December

Phong Nha

Vietnam is home to the largest cave in the world, in case you didn't know.

The well-known cave, Hang Son Doong, which wasn't found until the early 1990s, is just one of the many attractions in Phong Nha. The landscapes of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park were created about 400 million years ago, and are home to hundreds of cave systems, amazing underground rivers, jungle, lakes, and a profusion of rare animals. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-visit location.

BEST TIME TO VISIT? June through August.

Cat Tien

Cat Tien is a 70,000-hectare national park that is under the protection of UNESCO and is located in the Lam Dong province of South Vietnam, just four hours' drive from the southern metropolis of Ho Chi Minh city.

A yellow-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus gabriellae) and her baby rest on a branch after swinging from limb to limb in Vietnam
A yellow-cheeked gibbon (Nomascus gabriellae) and her baby rest on a branch after swinging from limb to limb in Vietnam

Cat Tien National Park is home to numerous exotic animals, ancient trees, rare bird life, not one, but two wildlife rescue facilities, and rare wildlife. A map will come in handy as you embark on a search for enormous, centuries-old trees. When you've had enough of being dwarfed by trees whose roots are higher than you, you can visit the research facilities to see the gibbons, moon bears, and sun bears that are all protected there.

BEST TIME TO VISIT? April to June.

Ha Giang

This is a rare opportunity to experience Vietnam unspoiled. Ha Giang, the most northern province of Vietnam, is frequently referred to as the region's most picturesque location. Over 90% of the population is made up of tribes and ethnic minorities, and they have a 3,000-year history. Despite Ha Giang's pristine environment, abundant diversity, and mind-blowing landscapes visible from its winding highland roads, its remote location has kept its visitor numbers low. The "Ha Giang Loop" is the ultimate trip for those looking for adventure, taking them through limestone karsts, deep gorges, eerily quiet borderlands, and minority villages over the course of a 2–5 day loop.


Ninh Binh

The stunning limestone karsts that dominate Ninh Binh's landscape bear striking resemblances to its eastern neighbor, Ha Long Bay. But rather than emerging from the water, these immovable mountains jut out of the level, verdant plain. Ninh Binh is a popular tourist destination that is easily accessible from Hanoi. Spend your days exploring the area's limestone outcrops and caves, taking in the peace of the nearby nature preserves, and, of course, ascending the Hang Mua Peak's 400 steps for an unrivalled view of the region's northern countryside.

BEST TIME TO VISIT? November through April.

Ha Tien

Despite being part of the Mekong Delta, Ha Tien is more like Thailand than the typical rice fields and rivers of the southern region. Ha Tien is perched on the rim of the Gulf of Thailand, not far from the Cambodian border. Ha Tien is rarely visited and you can marvel at the incredible limestone formations dispersed with a network of caves and temples. Ha Tien town has a certain rustic allure, and it is well worth spending a day or two there to take in the colonial villas that are getting on in age as well as the bustling local markets full of vendors selling southern specialties.

BEST TIME TO VISIT?  December through March.

Da Lat

Aerial view of the town in the early morning mist is beautiful in the highlands of Da Lat, Vietnam
Aerial view of the town in the early morning mist is beautiful in the highlands of Da Lat, Vietnam

Da Lat is a French colonial resort town that grew into a city. It is frequently referred to as the "little Paris of Vietnam." Da Lat, perched on a plateau 1,500 meters above sea level, is adored by tourists and expats for its cooler, cleaner climate. We think it is worth the detour for its cascading waterfalls, evergreen forests, and sense of a little bit of Europe in Vietnam.

BEST TIME TO VISIT?  May through August