Best Places to Camp in Vietnam

Blogs - Vietnam: July 10, 2017

Why Camp in Vietnam?

Camping is the ultimate expression of independent travel. sleeping outdoors – by the beach, in the mountains, under the jungle canopy – gives the traveller a sense of freedom and a proximity to nature that no hotel room can ever match.

Camping

As a country of exceptional natural beauty and varied landscapes, Vietnam has great potential for camping.

Some of my most memorable travel experiences in Vietnam have been while sleeping in the open. from setting up camp alone under a lunar eclipse in the far northern mountains, to camping with my good friends around a fire in a cold central Highlands’ forest, sharing bottles of rose myrtle wine and watching the stars, my camping experiences will stay with me forever.

There are essentially two kinds of camping in Vietnam: “official camping” and “wild camping”. Here are some of my favourite places to camp.

Official Camping on the Southeast Coast

Although camping for leisure is a fairly new concept in Vietnam, it’s increasingly popular with the younger generation of urban Vietnamese, who are keen to escape the concrete and pollution of their rapidly expanding cities and to travel cheaply and independently of their parents.

To cater to this new trend, many official campgrounds have established themselves as hubs for urban youth getaways.

This is especially true of the southeast coast between Ho Chi Minh City and Mui Ne. all within easy reach of Vietnam’s largest city, the beaches here are scattered with new and exciting places to pitch your tent (or rent a tent) by the sea. Some campgrounds in particular, such as Coco Beachcamp near Lagi or Long Son near Mui Ne, have proved wildly popular with both domestic and foreign travellers. as a result, there’s been an explosion of similar campsites all along the coast.

Camping

One of my favourite road trips in the southern dry season is to camp from Saigon to Nha Trang, using the new coastal roads and stopping at any of the dozens of campsites along the way. These campgrounds usually offer visitors the choice of pitching their own tent (for a nominal fee) or renting one.

Depending on the campsite, tents range from small, one- or two-person domes for a couple of dollars, to large, roomy, luxury pavilions which can set you back the price of a mid-range hotel room.

However, bear in mind that some of these campgrounds have been so successful in luring in the adventure-hungry youth of Ho Chi Minh City, that they can become extremely busy, especially on weekends and public holidays.

Wild Camping in the Forests & Mountains

Wild camping is still quite unusual in Vietnam: domestic and foreign travellers rarely bother to carry a tent with them as they travel through the country. But, with the right equipment, planning, precautions, and a bit of patience and common sense, wild camping in Vietnam is superb. Over the years, I’ve camped in many parts of the country. These are some of my favourites:

Bidoup Nui Ba National Park

Fabled for its cool highland climate and pine forests, new roads have recently opened up the area to the north of Dalat. Beyond the touristy shores of Suoi Vang Lake, a crisp new road leads deep into the endless pine forests on the fringes of Bidoup Nui Ba National Park. find a good camping spot on the soft carpet of pine needles, under the tall, straight, towering tree trunks, and watch the sun go down in the west, lighting ridge after ridge of misty mountains. During the cold night, the wind in the treetops sounds like waves breaking on a beach.

Camping

The Western Ho Chi Minh Road

Probably the most famous road in Vietnam, and certainly one of the most scenic, the Western Ho Chi Minh Road meanders through sublime landscapes as it passes through Quang Tri and Quang Binh provinces, not far from the Lao border. Freshwater springs burst from the jungle-cloaked mountainsides, feeding amethyst-coloured rivers, where perfect pebble beaches make ideal campsites. Bathe in the river, light a small campfire, break out the ukulele and rice wine, and watch the stars roll out over the night sky.

Pu Mat National Park

Rarely visited, this part of Nghe An Province juts westwards northwest of Vinh, taking a bite out of Laos. Pu Mat National Park straddles the Laos border, south of Highway 7.

The midlands here, between the Ca River and the Pu Lai Leng Mountains, consist of a glorious landscape of limestone hills bisected by clear rivers and decorated with bamboo groves and plunging waterfalls. It’s like a scene from an ancient chinese ink-and-wash painting. Find a quiet, steamy spot at the edge of the jungle, where the foliage meets a stream, and make camp. Cook up some instant noodles and watch the mesmerising nighttime dance of fireflies as they flit playfully over the trickling water.

Quay Son River Valley

Way up in the northeast corner of Vietnam, the Quay Son river is a jade-coloured ribbon of water sloping through a bucolic valley of terraced rice paddies, bamboo water-wheels and limestone hills, before dramatically tumbling 30 metres at Ban Gioc Waterfall. a weir road leads over to the north bank of the Quay Son river, where the grassy, fallow, terraced fields above the river are excellent for camping, affording fabulous views over the waterway and its magical valley. Settle in for a moonlit night accompanied by a hypnotic chorus of cicadas and flowing water.

Camping

A Note on Security & Responsibility

If you’re worried about security or local authorities, try to get permission before setting up camp. Ask a forestry official or a local farmer, for example. Chances are they’ll be happy to let you camp. UXO (Unexploded Ordnance) is still a big issue in Vietnam. Use your common sense: don’t go marching off into the middle of the jungle. Camp responsibly and don’t give wild camping a bad name: clean up your trash and leave your campsite as you found it.

About the Author:

Tom is the author of independent travel website Vietnam Coracle. Drawing on 11 years’ experience travelling all over the country, his free online guides aim to give travellers the confidence to explore Vietnam independently, without joining a package tour. He focuses on less-trodden areas, encouraging readers to go beyond the destinations that make up most of the standard south-north itineraries. You can read more about many of the places mentioned in the article on www.VietnamCoracle.com.

Image source: Tom Divers