To experience Vietnam at its friendliest, go way off the beaten path to its villages in the countryside, where community-based travel experiences will show you a different side of the local culture.

1.1. Dong Van Karst Plateau

Even more compelling than the karst landscape that serves as the Dong Van Karst Plateau’s backdrop are the 17 ethnic minority groups that call this breathtakingly beautiful place home. Rice and corn plots can be found growing amidst the limestone, and travelers can linger amidst the local markets to get a feel of local life. The plateau is located at an elevation of about 1,000 to 1,600 metres above sea level – rock gardens, caves, and an amazing array of plant and animal life complete your visit.

1.2. Sa Pa

The cool plateau of Sa Pa lies at an elevation of 1,600m above sea level; the resulting average temperature of 15-18°C brings tourists to Sa Pa in the spring months, when the trees bloom with cherry and apricot flowers, and the markets brim with minorities in colorful costumes coming in to trade. Hikers can explore the surrounding natural sites, including Silver Waterfall, Bamboo Forest, Ham Rong Mountain and Ta Phin Cave, or strike out to conquer Fansipan Mountain, Viet Nam’s highest peak.

1.3. Tra Que Vegetable Village

Tra Que’s holdings amount to only a few dozen hectares of cultivated land, but this Hoi An village has long been recognized for its fresh produce. Generations of Vietnamese cherish the products of Tra Que’s vegetable plots, including cabbage, basil, coriander, and water spinach. Experts believe that Tra Que vegetables gain their flavor from being fertilized by seaweed from De Vong River. Visitors can work alongside locals on the fields, hoeing, planting and watering along with the rest, then experiencing dishes made from the local produce. 

1.4. Jun Village

Located along the Central Highlands’ scenic Lak Lake, Jun Village presents an unchanged vista of local life to visitors. The houses on stilts; daily activities centered around traditional longhouses; and the rhythm of locals fishing, knitting, farming and weaving; all evoke a lifestyle that seems hardly touched by the outside world. Visitors can ride elephants to explore the surroundings, or just admire the serene lake view from one’s longhouse door.