When I used to imagine traveling to Vietnam, I pictured smoggy cities with millions of motorbikes. It's just what I had seen in photos and heard other people talk about and for whatever reason it stuck with me. And it's true that you WILL find smog and congestion and more motorbikes than you can shake a stick at in cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh.
But Vietnam is much more than just those cities. After all, the country is more than 1,000 miles long and enjoys a lot of diversity.
If you want a different picture of Vietnam, here are five beautiful landscapes that you can find in the country that will surprise you in every way.
The Sapa region is located in the northwest of Vietnam and is home to several ethnic minority groups. The area has become popular in recent years due to its photogenic rice terraces and the hiking trails that link some of the small hill tribe villages. Trekking trips in Sapa are popular with tourists and often include homestays with local families.
Located in the Gulf of Tonkin, Ha Long Bay has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for being a spectacular seascape sculpted by nature. That spectacular seascape consists of towering karst islands 1,600 islands covering more than 1,500 square kilometers, in fact. Ha Long Bay has long been a must-see stop in Vietnam, and many people book overnight cruises to see as much of it as they can.
Vietnam has a long coastline it basically goes the length of the country and then some. And, in some areas, the coast is pretty impressive. In Mui Ne, for example, you'll find expansive red and white sand dunes. These ever-changing dunes are a lot of fun, especially if you rent a sand board.
In southern Vietnam you will find the famous Mekong Delta, where the mighty Mekong River empties out into the sea. The delta area is actually huge roughly 15,000 square miles and is made up of hundreds of little streams and rivers. Hiring a sampan boat to weave along the narrow waterways here is a must, although the traditional conical hat is optional.
Lastly, if you can pay the steep price to visit, the Hang Son Doong Cave is a must. This massive cave in central Vietnam is the largest cave system in the entire world you could fit a 40-story building inside with no problem and it has its own climate and its own underground river. It's NOT a place many tourists have ventured to yet, either, considering the first tour groups were only let in within the last year.
Which of these landscapes would YOU most like to see in Vietnam?
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Graduate student by day and avid traveler and blogger by night (and on weekends and during holidays), Amanda is just a small-town Ohio girl trying to balance a "normal" life with a desire to discover the world beyond her Midwest bubble. Amanda's adventurous nature and inability to say "no" have led her to some pretty amazing adventures all around the world. But she has no desire to stop exploring anytime soon. Read Amanda's blog, A Dangerous Business, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.
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