It’s that time of year again! With the madness of high season finally passed and the rains bringing a slower pace, it is finally time to reflect. Having already seen much of Vietnam on the job, including the mystical Halong Bay with her parents, Operations Manager Anna shares what is left of her personal Vietnam bucket list…
I can’t believe a whole year has gone by since our big Guide Training adventure, which took me and Andrea through some of Southeast Asia’s most beautiful and exciting regions, visiting our amazing teams in the different cities, and giving us the chance to not only refresh our memories but introduce ourselves to some of the area’s more hidden gems.
Looking back on this great journey, naturally I can only start to think about all the other amazing places I have yet to explore in this beautiful part of the world!
The list is long and ever growing so for today I’ll focus my dreams on just one of my gorgeous neighboring countries. Here is my compressed Vietnam Bucket List.
Honestly, I am ashamed to admit that this has not been crossed off the list yet. Vietnam’s “rice basket” is without a doubt one of the biggest must-sees in the area, and one which so often slips through due to limited travel schedules.
From floating markets and fish farms, to bicycle rides and sunset cruises, the variety of sights and activities in the area is endless. A long day trip from Saigon is possible to give you a good introduction, but for those who can stretch out their time a little bit more can immerse themselves in this one-of-a-kind environment. You can take a few days to get lost in this agricultural labyrinth of paddy fields and marshlands, Travel on a rice barge, experience true Vietnamese hospitality by staying in the home of a local family, and you can even travel all the way down the Mekong to Cambodia! For those who have the time, this is much more fun than flying. Check out our sample itinerary here.
Phu Quoc Island
For me, one of the many highlights of living in Southeast Asia is having access to some of the most stunning beaches and seascapes in the world. With its neighbor Thailand hogging most of the sandy spotlight, Vietnam has until recently avoided many of the international crowds, leaving much of its 3400km-long coastline open to only local tourists and developers.
The hunt for that “secluded spot” is more in demand than ever before, and with international interest growing, these beaches won’t stay secret for much longer.
Top of my list – Phu Quoc. Spotted with plantation and rimmed with gorgeous sandy beaches, this Island off the southern coast of Vietnam still has that unspoiled feel. Bai Khem is rumoured to be the island’s prettiest beach. November to March is the best time to visit, when the sunny skies dominate and temperatures hover around 25-28 Celsius. That being said April – June can offer less crowds, cheaper prices and fairly good odds of reasonable weather.
Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park
Saving the best til last – the magnificent and magical Son Doong Cave! It is no secret that the caves of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park (located near the Laos border) are pretty much the most exciting geographical discovery in Vietnam’s recent exploratory history. Now claiming to hold the “largest cave passage in the world”, this area is only now just opening up to the public with a strict limit on the number of visitors it will allow in per year. Having grown up with a strong interest in geology, and generally just associating the word “cave” with the word “explorer”, this has been top of my Travel Bucket List ever since it came to light. Read more about these stunning formations here.