Vietnam is known for its golden sandy beaches, turquoise blue seas and it’s miles of limestone cliffs. Obviously, making it the perfect place to go kayaking. One of the best reasons to go kayaking in Vietnam is it gives you a brilliant opportunity to slowly take in the scenery around you. Taking Halong Bay as a prime example, being able to slowly kayak around the stunning mountains, chill in the warm sun, and explore the many caves the bay has to offer, means that kayaking in Vietnam is one of the most exciting activities to do when travelling around Southeast Asia.
Top destinations for Kayaking in Vietnam
This article is going to explore the very best regions in Vietnam to kayak and really take you off the beaten track. It will have it’s obvious big hitters, but some of the best places are also the most hidden gems!
Halong Bay, Quang Ninh
The best destination by far has to be Halong Bay if you’re looking at kayaking in Vietnam. As mentioned earlier it just has everything which makes kayaking such a great activity. The natural wonder has many beautiful islands (1600 to be exact), as well as great caves and stunning beaches to explore. One of the issues you will have is the water will look so inviting you will have to make sure you don’t keep jumping in the sea to cool down! Another really awesome thing you can do in Halong bay is kayak past the floating village where people actually live. Obviously be respectful when passing through, but the locals are really friendly and love to talk to travellers. To top it off, Halong Bay has been recognised in the top 25 places to go kayaking in the world! You don’t get that accolade if you’re not a special place. If you also go to Casteway Island, through Vietnam Backpackers Hostel, you get to kayak on your own private island where the beach is golden, cliffs and mountains are high and geologically stunning and the seas are crystal clear. I really cannot stress just how magical kayaking in Halong Bay really is!
Phong Nha Cave, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
If you want to explore caves on your kayak expeditions then look no further than Phong Nha Cave. One of the reasons why so many travellers like to visit, is not just because of its spectacular geology, but because it has two awesome routes to explore. One of the routes will take you through Son River, and another the Cave itself. Why this is such a popular cave to kayak through is because it is one of the largest wet caves in the world, which has a vast underground river network. With it being a cave, do be mindful that sometimes it does get really narrow and the cave roof can get rather low. So just be safe and careful as you don’t want to get stuck or injure yourself. It must be said that it’s very unlikely this will happen but a warning nevertheless. However, Phong Nha is one of the most epic caves you’ll ever kayak in and it does give you a really awesome and authentic experience of what it’s like to be a cave explorer.
Huong River, Hue City
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum – Hue city. If you’re looking for a really calm kayak with beautiful scenery then Huong River in Hue is a great little area to kayak. Hue was the former capital of Vietnam, and has some stunning mountains to look out for as you travel down the river. One of the cool things about kayaking here is just how chill and calm everything else. Let the river currents take you down and soak up the peaceful atmosphere of the city as you pass Dong Ba Market, Hen Island and Ba Vinh Ancient Town. The key to enjoying the whole experience is just relaxing and taking in the surroundings. It’s also a really easy kayak as the river is open and slow, and due to its size means it’s rare you’ll be near other people!
Another interesting thing to do in Hue is to visit the Hue abandoned waterpark.
Tuyen Lam Lake, Da Lat City
Now i’m testing your knowledge of Vietnam! The lake is located near Da Lat City and is absolutely fantastic for a kayaking trip. What makes it such a great place, is primarily the lack of people that will be disturbing you during your trip on the lake. Tuyen Lam Lake really offers some picturesque scenes and really calm water to relax whilst making your way around. Da Lat has a really special feel to it, but when you get your kayak, it really allows you to experience all the beauty of the lake area up close and personal.
Han River, Da Nang City
Ahhhh Da Nang City – brings back so many great memories! If you’ve never heard of Da Nang city, you’ll probably have seen a picture of it due to its famous ‘Dragon Bridge’ crossing over the river. One of the most fun times to kayak on the Han River is definitely during sunrise or sunset. Sunset is a lot more easier to organise, so if you’re looking for an easy life – then do that! A good start point is from the Dragon Bridge, roam down to the bridge crossing Han River and on the way back you’ll see the sunsetting with the Dragon’s Bridge in the background. If you’re anything like me, you’ll love the photographs you can get out of the sunset.
West Lake, Hanoi
One of the main reasons why this makes this list is that it is based in Hanoi which is where most travellers either end their stay or start their stay. Therefore, it’s a really easy place to start kayaking if you’ve never done it before as the water is really still and stable. OR, end your trip in the most relaxing way possible, and kayak on the lake and soak in the rays. The landscapes around West Lake are surreal and will give you a great start/end trip to your stay in Vietnam.
Cat Ba National Park, Lan Ha Bay
Slightly cheating here, but just had to get this in! Lan Ha Bay is an extension from Halong Bay. However, it is in a different province and also a much quieter alternative compared to Halong Bay. What I love about Lan Ha Bay is that although it is lesser known, it’s just as stunning and mesmerising as it’s neighbour. It’s ethereal green, usually cleaner waters, and limestone cliffs dotted throughout the bay make it such a magical place to kayak. Right now most people miss Lan Ha Bay, which makes the bay secluded, less crowded and just as enjoyable, if not more to explore! The things you can do here are pretty much the same as in Halong Bay, but I thought I would add this in as an alternative if people prefer the quietness.
As you can see Vietnam has some amazing places to explore if you’re looking for a great place to kayak. I’ve really tried to get a good mix of places for you to be able to enjoy kayaking in Vietnam and discover so it has something for everyone. If you are yet to travel to Vietnam, then it’s somewhere I would really recommend making your number one travel destination. Vietnam has pretty much everything for anyone; from the high mountains of Sapa, to the golden beaches of Ha Long Bay, and the hustle and bustle of Hanoi. Here is a 10 day itinerary of what you can cram into a tight schedule but still get to experience Vietnam to its fullest.
If you enjoyed this article on Kayaking in Vietnam and are looking for other activities, you might also like to read about the best yoga retreats in Vietnam.