Northeast Vietnam Travel Guide

Despite its fabulous scenery, Northeast Vietnam is seldom visited. Home to many ethnic minorities and with a backdrop of resplendent terraced rice paddies, it is an achingly beautiful place to spend some time. Parts of the north are extremely isolated, but being unspoiled by tourism only adds to the region’s charm.

Thai Nguyen is the southernmost city of this region and the starting point for tours of the northeast. Package tours are readily available and a good idea if you are not experienced in travel off the beaten track. Most packages include food and accommodation, a four-wheel drive vehicle with driver, and last from three to five days.

Winding its way through bowl shaped hills, the road from Thai Nguyen to Bac Kan is splendid. Here you will find the best tea in the country, called ‘Thai tea.’ At

Ba Be Lake (meaning ‘three seas’), rent a boat to take a dip or simply enjoy the flowers and bamboo that make up the scenery along the riverbanks. It is a highlight of the region.

Puong Cave, with its stalagmites and stalactites, is a majestic sight. From here you can continue to the lovely national park. This ancient forest is full of vines and incredible birdlife. Traditional villages with bungalows on stilts can be found nearby, and fishermen still live much as their ancestors did.

From Cao Bang you can reach spectacular Ban Gioc Waterfall, located on the Quy Son River. The river forms part of the border with China, so you can stand and wave to China if you wish. Pac Bo Cave, which was the base of operations for Ho Chi Minh when he returned from exile, is also nearby.

Many hill tribe communities are located around Lang Son such as Nung, Tay, Zao and Hmong. The Tam Thanh and Nhi Thanh caves contain Buddhist shrines and are often visited by Vietnamese vacationers.

Lang Son is famous for its winter fruits such as pears, plums, peaches and persimmons, and also for its Chinese influenced grilled pork and duck. This is an isolated place with sheer ravines, and it is possible to cross overland to and from China from here.