Monday, 12 March 2012 6:09 PM
If you're looking for a slightly more unusual destination in which to experience adventure travel, Vietnam is the place for you. This south-east Asian destination is increasingly being recognised as a fantastic country to explore – so make sure you get there before the secret is fully out!
From the hustle and bustle of cities such as Hanoi to quieter towns like Hoi An, Vietnam is certainly a country of contrasts. Head further afield to the rural communities close to the mountains and you'll have your eyes opened to the beauty and poverty that exist side by side.
Vietnam is a country that is less well-trodden than other south-east Asian nations such as Thailand, so you'll truly feel as though your adventures have never been experienced before.
Here are some of the best escapades to be had:
Travelling around Halong Bay on a junk boat, you'll be taken aback by the beauty of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. You'll almost feel you're completely alone in the bay and its untouched scenery adds to this.
Explore caves by day and spend the afternoon cooling off in the waters. As the night draws in, lie back on deck underneath the stars and listen to the silence.
Halong Bay is easily accessible from the northern city of Hanoi, which is also the capital of the country.
Cu Chi tunnels
Visit the underground Vietnam War tunnel network and learn all about its history – very brave tourists can also navigate a section of it by crawling on their stomachs.
You'll certainly understand what it must have been like to hide for hours down here, although the Vietnamese are slight and probably found it a lot easier than the rest of us!
The Cu Chi tunnels are a short distance from the southern city of Ho Chi Minh, which you might also know as Saigon.
Motorbiking from Hue to Hoi An
There are plenty of tour companies offering the chance for you to climb on to the back of a motorbike with a guide and head off on the long open road.
This allows you to catch a different glimpse of Vietnam and the one-on-one attention will help you gain a deeper understanding of its cultures and history.
One of the most popular stretches is between the elegant towns of Hue and Hoi An. This coastal route can be done in one day, but to bump up the adventure levels, you can stretch it out with an overnight stay.
Ask your guide to take you off the main Hai Van Pass, which the Top Gear presenters rode on for a TV special. This will enable you to explore more remote villages, rice paddies and rock pools.
Trekking in the Mai Chau mountains
The small village of Sa Linh is easily reached from Hanoi and is where you will begin your trek through the Mai Chau valley. This region is filled with green mountains, fruit orchards and rice paddies and is the complete opposite of the bustling capital.
You can get the chance to stay with families in Hang Kia village – this really is an authentic and unusual adventure and you'll be taken aback by just how warm and welcoming the Vietnamese are, no matter how little they have.