Beyond the beautiful beaches and the desert sand dunes, deep in the jungle blanketed mountains of Vietnam lie some of their most thrilling natural attractions in the country: waterfalls. As ancient rivers wend their way through the high country, water cascades over precipices, carving the rock and earthen landscape away. Some have been altered by man, others have been left to the hand of nature. But they are all incredible. Vietnam has countless waterfalls speckled across it's length - here's a look at some of the most popular, and a few that are off the beaten path.
Ban Gioc – North of Hanoi
These renowned falls are fed by the Quay Son River that marks the border between China and Vietnam. It is a symbolic river adorned with a powerful waterfall known as Ban Gioc. These falls are highly recognizable as one of the most iconic natural wonders of Vietnam. There is a short, 10-minute walk from the parking lot, but you'll go through beautiful rice paddies. A permit is required to enter, and can be purchased at the entrance, but don’t forget to bring your passport! Once you get there, sink into the large pool at the bottom and cool off from the intense Vietnamese heat. Have one of the guides punt you down the river where you'll float in a bamboo raft close enough to the falls to feel the misty spray on your skin.
Khe Van – Binh Lieu
A three tiered waterfall, the first level moves the highest volume of water down the cliffs and into a bright crystal pool. From there, the water drops again and divides into two smaller waterfalls on the second tier. Once it reaches the bottom, it breaks into a number of streams and cascades down between weathered boulders. Getting to the waterfall is relatively easy, and can be reached on foot or motorbike. The waterfall itself is 9 miles from the township of Binh Lieu, which is surrounded by lush trees and distant residences.
Ba Ho – Nha Trang
These falls are a little more off the beaten path, but they're well worth the trek. You'll drive north of Nha Trang about 25 minutes before reaching a dirt road that will take you west across train tracks and through small villages before reaching a dirt parking lot. The hike up to the falls runs through thick jungle and leads you up and over steep jagged boulders that follow the rivers, with the falls peeking out as you ascend the gentle sloping canyon. It gets busy during the high season (mostly with Russian tourists), as cliff jumping is a big draw. There are several pools with different heights that are deep enough to jump in almost year-round – as long as you're up for a chill. Even if you don’t feel too ballsy, you can go for a swim in the deeper pools to cool off, or stack stones along the banks.
Elephant Falls - Dalat
The power of Elephant Falls is undeniable. You can hire a guide to take you there with a group, or hop on your trusty motorbike and zip off to southwest Da Lat into the twisting, curving well-maintained road that will take you through countryside. You'll pass more rolling rice patties, friendly farming villages and gorgeous jungle mountains that seem to overtake you. The waterfall itself is a beast with thousands upon thousands of gallons of water charging over the edge of the cliff each minute, pounding the rock below with a thunderous rumble. Once you pay the $10 admission, you'll clamber down through a cloud of mist on slippery steel ladders and slick moss rocks where you can explore a network of trails that weave around the base. Climb down into rock caves and walk behind the falls, or descend a bit further to run along the river for a full view of their power.
Datanla – Dalat
Tucked along a mountain road, Datanla has a big parking lot where you can get off the bus or leave your bike (for .50 USD). At the top you’ll find small gift shops selling a variety of souvenirs, a wooden sculptor working alongside the path and even a roller coaster you can ride down to the base of the falls! If you decide not to take the coaster down, there is a path that descends the hill too – just be prepared for a short, steep hike back up. There is one main fall, and another you can walk down to along another path. Surrounded on all sides by thick jungle, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and birds.
Dambri – Dalat
One of the largest waterfalls in Vietnam, Dambri offers some of the most impressive views too. The water flows freely year-round, so the falls are worth a visit even at the height of dry season. There are a number of paths visitors can choose to explore, and there's even a vertical elevator to get a lay of the land from a higher vantage point. 80 miles south of Dalat and 11 miles north of Bao Loc along Highway 20, if you ask a tour guide to take you, they will be more than happy to oblige. But if you have a motorbike, take the day to ride out to the falls and experience what the wending Vietnamese mountain roads have to offer!
Giang Den Waterfall – Dong Nai Province
The park where you can find Giang Den is only about an hour from Saigon, and is a good place to escape the city for the day. There are small lakes and ponds throughout the park, which is intersected by the river. The falls are wide and picturesque. Pack a picnic to enjoy at the numerous tables and enjoy the relaxing ambience around you. You can stay nearby at the Giang Den hotel, or pay for a campsite to spend the night listening to the peaceful rolling waters.