The Tam Coc
The Tam Coc (“three caves”) portion is a three-hour excursion by small boat along the Ngo Dong river, beginning at the village of Van Lam and proceeding through a scenic landscape dominated by rice fields and karst towers. The route includes floating through three natural caves (Hang Ca, Hang Hai, and Hang Ba), the largest of which is 125m long with its ceiling about 2m high above the water. The boats are typically rowed by one or two local women who also sell embroidered goods.
Bich Dong is a pagoda on nearby Ngu Nhac Mountain dating to 1428, comprising three structures: Ha, Trung, and Thuong Pagodas, in ascending order. Guided tours generally cover historical points and end with a pleasant view from the top.
The Marble Mountains in Da Nang
The group includes Kim Son (Mountain of Wood), Thuy Son (Mountain of Water), Hoa Son (Mountain of Fire), and Tho Son (Mountain of Earth). Several Buddhist temples have been built into the caves and grottoes, and it's a popular pilgrimage site. The real fun, though, is at the Am Phu cave, where you can make the steep climb up toward the light and a view from the top of the mountain, surrounded by approving sacred images...or head in the opposite direction, physically and spiritually, down to the crude Hieronymous Bosch-esque statues of sinners getting their due in the caverns below, with appropriately eerie lighting. Either way, bring walking or climbing shoes. Open-tour buses will stop here, but you'll be rushed along; any moto driver in Da Nang or Hoi An will be happy to take you and let you set the schedule. Guides are available. Watch out for the rapacious statue-sellers outside, though.
Ban Gioc Waterfalls in Northern Vietnam
The waterfall falls thirty meters and the scenery is almost magical. It is separated into three falls by rocks and trees, and the thundering effect of the water hitting the cliffs can be heard from far away.
It is currently the 4th largest waterfall along a national border after Iguazu Falls, Victoria Falls, and Niagara Falls and was one of the crossing points for China’s army during the brief Sino-Vietnamese War. Nearby there is the Tongling Gorge accessible only through a cavern from an adjoining gorge. Rediscovered only recently, it has many species of endemic plants, found only in the gorge, and used to be used as a hideout by local bandits whose treasure is occasionally still found in the cliff-side caves.
Ha Long Bay
"Ha Long" is literally translated as "Bay of Descending Dragons." If you visit this place you'll never forget it! This place is overwhelming, the scenery is spectacular!
When mentioning the present-day Quang Ninh Sea or Ha Long Bay, old historical books often referred to them by the names of An Bang, Luc Thuy or Van Don. Not until the late 19th century did the name of Ha Long Bay appear on a French Marine Map. The Hai Phong News, a French newspaper of the time, had an article, Dragon appears on Ha Long Bay, reporting the following story: In 1898 a sub-lieutenant named Lagredin, captaining the Avalanse reported seeing a huge sea snake on Ha Long Bay. This was also witnessed by many of the crews. Thus emerged the European image of the Asian dragon.
My Son - Ancient Hindu ruins which are a a UNESCO World Heritage Site
My Son was built by the Champa kingdom which ruled south and central Vietnam from c200AD to c1700AD. Influenced by Hinduism, they built temple complexes up and down the area to honor their gods and to bury their kings. My Son, developed between the 4th century and the 13th century, is one of the better-preserved of these sites. Bricks were used to build the temples — without the aid of mortar — and sculptures of gods, priests, animals, and scenes of battle and devotion adorned the walls.
Cuc Phuong National Park - home to some of Asia's rarest wildlife and the Muong hill tribe
Cuc Phuong National Park is Vietnam’s largest national park and one of the most important sites for biodiversity in the country. It is homes to hundreds of species of flora and fauna. The park can be visited from Hanoi as a day trip or visitors can stay at the park’s lodging for a longer stay.
Cu Chi Tunnels
The tunnels were dug with simple tools and bare hands during the French occupation in the 1940s, and further expanded during the Vietnam War in the 1960s to provide refuge and a defensive advantage over the American soldiers. Despite all the bombings in their town, the Cu Chi people were able to continue their lives beneath the soil, where they slept, ate, planned attacks, healed their sick, and taught their young. Some even wed and gave birth underground, but over 10,000 lost their lives here.
Terraced fields in Sa Pa
Sapa is a charming mountain town, surrounded by picturesque mountains and rice terraces. Great views of the area can be had (weather permitting) from the nearby hills. One of these has been built up into a tourist attraction ("Ham Rong Resort") with various gardens (orchid, European), ethnic minority dance performance areas, viewpoints, and restaurants. It's a short walk south from the central square and then up some stairs.