Rough Guides says you are unlikely to see another foreigner during your visit to this Central Highlands province, which is home to 650 villages of various ethnic groups. Probably everybody else just falls too deep in love with Da Lat, the so-called “Little Paris of Vietnam” around 400 kilometers to the south. Ask the villagers for some traditional wine and a night in their communal rong house.
Bai Tu Long Bay
The lesser-known neighbor of Ha Long Bay, Bai Tu Long is where you can avoid the crowd. From the bay, take a ferry to the almost untouched Quan Lan Island for some of the best views you will never forget. Keep in mind that the island only has a couple of hotels – and locals don’t really speak English.
Bong Lai Valley
Another hidden gem near a destination of rockstar-level fame. The valley is usually outshined by the famous Phong Nha National Park, but it shouldn’t be. As if the natural sights weren’t enough, the valley also has a stunning culinary culture to match. Farm-to-table cheap eats will offer you fresh vegetables and pork cooked in bamboo and hot rice balls with peanut fillings. Make sure you don’t leave without trying the grilled chicken. Homestay is getting more popular.
Ha Giang is still relatively unknown to many foreign tourists even though its Dong Van Karst Global Geopark has been recognized by UNESCO as one the most important geological and cultural heritage sites in the world. Basically it’s Sa Pa before Sa Pa turned into tourists-packed Sa Pa. Expect a limited range of services here but all the hotels are kind enough to help foreign tourists obtain a visitor permit.
An Binh Islet
Staying in the Mekong Delta’s island overnight and exploring it at your own pace is far more rewarding than a hasty day tour from Ho Chi Minh City, the U.K. travel publisher comments. The island off Vinh Long Province is an ideal place to experience the southern life and how it is all tied to the waterways. And if you love tropical fruits, there’s no reason to wait.
Hanoi’s other beer corner
Putting Hanoi on this list seems like a crazy idea. But we totally understand why. Bia hoi can be found anywhere in the capital city but most tourists tend to flock to Luong Ngoc Quyen and Ta Hien in the Old Quarter. Rough Guides argues that the best beer of the city is actually around the corner of Bat Dang and Duong Thanh streets. And it’s also cheap: VND5,000 (22 cents) a pint.
Where to go to recover from that Hanoi hangover? This bucolic valley is only 130 kilometers away, but it’s a completely different world. No cars. No light pollution. The friendly Thai people will welcome you to their stilt houses where you can also order delicious, homey meals.
Reading: Jetstar adds low-cost services between Australia and Vietnam this summer