12 Hidden Gems in Vietnam for Your Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventure

12 Hidden Gems in Vietnam for Your Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventure

From traditional Vietnamese villages to tranquil natural wonders!

Vietnam is a country renowned for its effortlessly timeless charm, metropolitan wonders like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, as well as tourist magnets like Ha Long Bay and Hoi An. However, there awaits a treasure trove of hidden gems worth discovering on your trip to Vietnam off the beaten path. Breeze through our list of hidden gems in Vietnam that are bound to astonish you!

Plan your next trip to Vietnam with Nam Ho Travel Services for an unforgettable and hassle-free experience! Winner of the Best for Vietnam category at the 2023 TripZilla Excellence Awards, Nam Ho Travel Services has a stellar reputation for providing incredible tours and packages to the top tourist hot spots in the region, especially Vietnam. Fancy a 5D4N tour of Central Vietnam? A week-long adventure in Hanoi and Sa Pa? Consider it done when you book your Vietnam travel package with Nam Ho!

Also read: Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh: Which City in Vietnam Should You See First?

Must-see Vietnam hidden gems

1. Duong Lam Ancient Village

Ngo Quyen Mausoleum (left) | Image credit (L-R): Chris Vineyard; Lewis

First on our round-up of hidden places in Vietnam is Duong Lam Ancient Village in Son Tay district, Hanoi. With about 900 traditional earthen-wall houses dating back to the 16th century, it proudly stands as the oldest village in Northern Vietnam. Located about 50 kilometres from the city centre, it provides visitors with a peaceful, rural environment and a glimpse into the country’s bygone era. 

In Duong Lam, exploring the village by bike is definitely a must! Aside from beautifully preserved traditional houses, you’ll come across tons of ancient artefacts like the Mia Pagoda and Ngo Quyen Mausoleum. Afterwards, you can enjoy tea time and conversations among homegrown cafes like Ca Phe Lang or Chiko Cafe

2. Pu Luong Nature Reserve

Situated between the Hoa Binh and Thanh Hoa provinces lies the enchanting valley of Pu Luong Nature Reserve. Much like other Vietnam off-the-beaten-path attractions, its slow-paced atmosphere offers a stark contrast to the buzz of the capital city. So, if you love nature and want to experience more of the countryside culture, this is just the place to be. 

Aside from its abundance of bamboo waterwheels, other exciting attractions include Mt. Pu Luong, Thac Hieu Waterfall, and the Tay ethnic village of Kho Muong.

Also read: Hiking in Vietnam: 10 Trails with the Most Picturesque Views

3. Bac Ha Market

Image credit: Truth’soutthere

Tucked away in the mountains of Northwest Vietnam in Lao Cai Province, Bac Ha Market turns into a hive of activity come Sunday. While it may not boast the global acclaim of some of Vietnam’s best-loved markets, it offers a unique cultural adventure. More than just a marketplace, Bac Ha Market is a showcase of diverse traditions! Watch villagers from the surrounding regions gather to sell their goods, from textiles and handicrafts to local delicacies and farm-fresh produce. 

Address: G7MV+X48, TT. Bắc Hà, Bắc Hà, Lào Cai, Vietnam

Also read: 14 Night Markets in Asia for Street Food and Neon-Lit Views

4. Ho Thang Hen Lake

Aside from the majestic Ban Guioc Waterfall, the province of Cao Bang boasts other spectacular natural wonders that are perfect for adventurous travellers. Another noteworthy attraction to visit is the scenic, blue-green lake of Ho Thang Hen. This underrated spectacle tucked away in the mountainous area of Tra Linh district is just one among 35 other large and small bodies of water in the vicinity. However, unlike other lakes that change to a brownish colour during the rainy season, this one remains blue all year long — thanks to the crystal-clear water flowing from a cave above the lake! 

5. Bac Son Valley

hidden gems vietnam

Image credit: quangpraha via Canva Pro

Nestled like a hidden gem in the rural province of Lang Son, Bac Son Valley boasts lush rice paddies, rugged limestone peaks, and tranquil villages. Following the valley’s pathways will take you to the rice terraces where you’ll get a glimpse of the river weaving its way through the landscape. Beyond its stunning sights, its villages inhabited by Tay ethnic people also hold their own unique charm. 

Whether you’re hiking through its terraced fields or immersing yourself in the local way of life, it offers a remarkably unforgettable and authentic Vietnamese experience.

6. Con Dao Islands

Image credit: Dong Nhat Huy via Canva Pro

A small archipelago located off the southern coast, Con Dao attracts only a few travellers, making it an unspoiled paradise for beach bums. Its 16 islets boast stunning white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters teeming with vibrant marine life, and tropical forests. What’s more? Con Dao holds significant history and stories, with remnants of a notorious prison complex built during French colonial rule. So, curious explorers out here are in for a quick history lesson, too!

7. Ta Dung National Park

hidden gems vietnam

Image credit: HuyThoai via Canva Pro

Sprawling over 20,919 hectares, Ta Dung National Park is renowned for its incredibly stunning natural landscape. Home to lush tropical rainforests, serene lakes, and rolling hills, it is often lauded as the “Ha Long Bay of the Central Highlands.” The main draw of the park is Ta Dung Lake: a beautiful expanse of crystal-clear water enveloped by verdant green forests. Here, you can take advantage of several outdoor activities like hiking, boating, and even camping. 

8. Cat Cat Village

vietnam hidden gems

Image credit: efired via Canva Pro

Perched at the base of the towering Hoang Lien Son Mountain, Cat Cat Village is embraced by nature all around. The village is blanketed in green fields and small houses dot the landscape, creating a picturesque sight to behold. Since it’s situated high up in the mountainous region of Northwest Vietnam, visitors here can expect a cool climate all year round. Meanwhile, during spring, it paints the village a blush-pink hue with its sprawling cherry blossom trees. 

hidden gems vietnam

Image credit: Diy13 via Canva Pro

Take part in a homestay experience or go on a day tour to discover gems like Cat Cat Fall, traditional Mong houses, and local markets. There are also dining spots serving native specialities like corn wine.

9. Ta Phin Ancient Monastery

vietnam hidden gems

Image credit: guangpraha via Canva Pro

Are there any photographers here? On your sightseeing adventures in Sa Pa in Lao Cai Province, don’t miss the Ta Phin Ancient Monastery. Constructed in the 1940s, this old church features a distinctive French-style architecture. Now a desolate structure hiding behind thick fog, it carries with it a mysterious and somewhat enchanting charm. While there’s not much you can do here (compared to other Vietnam hidden gems), it attracts tourists looking for a one-of-a-kind photo-op! 

Address: 9VG2+WJF, Sa Pả, Sa Pa, Lào Cai, Vietnam

10. Noong Lake

vietnam hidden gems

Image credit: lifetimetravelmates

Travellers visit Ha Giang for its beautiful terraced rice fields or its jaw-dropping canyons, but would often miss out on Noong Lake. During the dry season, the lake hosts flocks of ducks and geese. However, during the rainy season, it transforms into a serene spot for a tranquil boating experience or to simply catch sight of locals fishing. 

11. Bac Truc Pottery Village

Bau Truc Pottery Village in southern Phan Rang stands as one of the oldest pottery villages in all of Southeast Asia. The village houses over 500 families, most of which are in the traditional pottery-making business. Here, visitors can spend a day in the village observing the local way of life and experience making earthenware items firsthand! 

Of course, you can’t leave empty-handed. Show your support for the locals’ artistry and pick out some handicrafts to bring home as a souvenir. 

Address: Bau Truc, Phan Rang, Thap Cham City, Vietnam 

12. Kon Tum

Image credit: Qui Thinh via Canva Pro

Situated in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, Kon Tum shares its borders with Cambodia and Laos. Thus, it makes for an easily accessible destination through the international border crossing. Aside from attracting visitors for its unspoiled natural beauty, Kon Tum is also a melting pot of diverse communities. On your ecological tour here, you’re bound to discover the different cultures of its ethnic folk villages.

Also read: 12 Fun Things to Do in Da Nang, Vietnam for First-Time Visitors

That sums up our list of Vietnam hidden gems that are worth adding to your bucket list! Although our roundup barely scratches the surface of off-the-radar experiences that await you here, we hope this inspires you to explore beyond the typical tourist spots in Vietnam. Now, are you ready to go off the grid and walk roads less travelled? 

About Author

Andrea Larice Yap
Andrea Larice Yap

Andrea is a writer and creative individual based in Manila. This tiny human runs on iced coffee, music and films. You’ll probably catch her daydreaming in a park or jotting down random words to to put in a song. Otherwise, expect her taking a dive in the pool of uncertainty called “life.”