Owee’s non tourist tour Part 1

I have been very fortunate to have been able to travel to places in Vietnam that other foreigners have rarely if ever seen. Traveling to these places offers a more realistic understanding of Vietnam in my opinion. Currently almost all tours will take you to the same attractions and the same tourist areas. I for one have been to almost all of them, and some, many times. I live in Vietnam and when I travel, I do not want to be herded through a factory or showroom full of other tourists to be funneled into a store where a person pressure to buy, or resentment for being put into the position of having to say no multiple times.

As I wrote in my last post, I am fortunate to have some very good friends that own and manage a major tour company. (You can find their information here)  I have accompanied them to some places that are rarely visited by tourists but are hidden gems full of friendly people and natural wonders and beauty. Following in an Itinerary That I with the help of my friends have come up with:


Start with a Drive to Núi – Bà ?en (Black Virgin) – Mountain where a person can take a gondola to one of the largest mountain temples in South Vietnam. After a bobsled down the mountain, we continue to Chau Doc in An Giang province and visit a small Muslim village on the Mekong before checking into our hotel.


After breakfast take the short journey to Sam Mountain located on the Vietnam-Cambodia border and climb to the top past the ancient temples. At the top a person will enjoy a spectacular view of both Vietnam and Cambodia landscapes. The mountain is also still used as a defensive base. We will then board our vehicle and head into the most southern region of Kien Giang province. We will have a late lunch of local dishes and then board a boat to visit U Minh Thuong National Park, where we will see Giant bats, and other creatures native to the area. We will then overnight in a Nha Tro or a homestay.

Day 3

We will return to U Minh Thuong National Park and explore another area. Brave souls can climb a small spiral staircase for a breathtaking view of the swamp like area.  On the drive back to Saigon we will stop and explore the Cai Rang Floating Market near Con Tho before heading back to Saigon to end the first leg of the journey

Day 4

Free time to rest up, do laundry, and do some of the local tours if a person wants.

Day 5

To be continued………….

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Tour designer and Guide specializing in off the beaten track tours of Vietnam

36 thoughts on “Owee’s non tourist tour Part 1

  1. Hi, my wife and i am arriving in Hanoi next Sunday and have 3.5 weeks to find our way to Saigon. We like getting off the beaten track and had thought we might go to Sapa, Halong Bay and then travel by train to Saigon. Stopping off along the way. Reading your blog this sounds like we are doing the main tourist areas this way. Can you suggest alternatives. Thanks.

    1. The way things are set up in Vietnam, almost every service simply links the most touristy areas. After your 7 days of visiting Hanoi, SAPA, and Halong you still have the time to get off the beaten path. I might suggest flying to Danang and do the 4 night Hoi An/ Hue thing. From there you can easily get off the beaten path By heading through Danang to Kham Duc, Kon Tum, Buon Ma Thuot, Lak Lake, Dalat, and finish in Nha Trang where you can continue by train to Saigon. You can also customize it to wherever and whatever you want to see by private car of motorcycle. You can try to do on your own, however, traveling between off track destinations by bus is slow and uncomfortable and you miss many of the sights. Please email me riptide.nhatrang@gmail.com for more information. there is one option http://www.homestaynhatrang.com/vietnam-by-car/

  2. Hi Owee,

    My boyfriend and I are traveling today to Hanoi, and we want to get to know Northern Vietnam and to avoid the tourist stuff and touristy places as much as possible. We only have 6 days so we want to minimize the time we are on the road/transporting to different locations. We like to do some hiking, but not too difficult, and also bike riding and kayaking. We want a little bit of beach, mountains, as well as inland villages or towns. Please could you recommend interesting places to go and things to do?

    Thank you!


    1. Unfortunately areas such as Halong Bay and SAPA are all about heavy tourism. With only 6 days you have very little time. I suggest looking at Mai Chau for a less touristy destination. Ninh Binh is also a bit touristy but beautiful. If you had more time I would have suggested the Central Highlands…..

  3. Hi,
    Just looking for some Vietnam travel advice for April 2015. Planning to visit for a couple of weeks and want to avoid tourist stuff as much as possible. As I hate it. Please email me!
    Thanks 🙂

  4. Hi!

    I am planning to go HCM with my family (wife and 3 kids) later this year for a 6 day trip. I would like to explore the countryside and non touristy areas.

    Can you give me some recommendations please?


      1. Hi Owee…love your blog….we are on an around the world tour so really have no time table……in Nha Trang currently until Thursday…..would love to get off the beaten track….please drop us a line so we can pick your brain for more in depth details. Look forward to hearing from you. Cheers, Zeek and Katie

  5. Hi…have enjoyed your posts. My husband and I have 10 days just after Christmas to visit Vietnam. He would like Hanoi but I am saying we will not have those warm clothes needed ( hats, gloves and long pants) I read a post where the gentleman said he flew into HCM and saw Dalat, Hoi An Hue and wanted to leave from DaNang. Are these places full of tourists? We don’t want that. We enjoy kayaking and small boat day /overnight trip . Thank you so much for your help.

    1. The north is quite chilly at that time as can be Dalat. The best weather will be from Nha Trang south and west. Hoi An, Halong bay, Sapa, are the most touristy places in Vietnam but still worth seeing. Nha Trang can also be but there are areas away from all that to enjoy. Perhaps you should consider Flying into Saigon (very warm) and do a Mekong cruise and then visit Nha Trang and do a tour of the central highlands…… Non touristy and fun… I guarantee it

      1. With this itinery would we fly in and out of Saigon? (returning to Chiang Mai) What cruise or tour company do you recommend for the Mekong trip asiatouradvisor or Le Cochinchine Cruises and I would think you might suggest V’Explore for the central highlands. I have planned a lot of tripping over the years but Vietnam is overwhelming with it’s size and variety of places to see. thank you again for your expertize.

  6. Hi Owen,
    My wife and I are coming to vietnam for three weeks in August this year. I have previously been to vietnam and have done Hanoi down to hoi an. During this trip we are flying into Saigon and hoi an is as north as i plan to go. I have planned to do Saigon, the Mekong, dalat, nha trang and hoi an. As I’m with my wife we want to spend some time relaxing and doing touristy things. However, when going to Mekong, dalat Etc I would love to get off the beaten track and experience the best of traditional vietnam. Any advice would be great appreciated.

  7. Hi Owen,

    I am emailing again just because your off-beaten track trip sounds awesome. My husband and I live in HCMC and would like to do similar trip from April 26-30. We are open for this Owen’s non-tourist part 1 tour or HCMC-Dalat- Nha Trang. Which one do you recommend given our timeframe? What would be the cost etc?

    We are young adventurous travellers and would love to see more of real Vietnam: culture, nature, scenerary, food.

    I look forward to hearing from you. Unfortunately, the tickets to Dalat or Nha Trang gone up very steep. 🙁


  8. i am wanting to go to vietnam next aug and want to do the off beaten path types tour maybe do cambodia and loas also send me some info . i’ll be going for 21 day when i go

    1. I cannot help much with off the beaten paths in Laos or Cambodia even though I can help with good a tour company, however, off the beaten path in Vietnam is what I am all about. I will email you

  9. Dear Owee,
    Booked a 10days DIY holiday for two. Entry n exit HCM. Plan visit HCM, Dalat, Hoi An, Hue n back to HCM. Should hv exit Danang but that’s another story..Am unsure wheter to buy open bus ticket ( or local package tour ). How many days would u recommend staying in each place? Do I use Hoi An as my accom.base to Danang n Hue n then rail back to HCM ? Intend to select own guesthouse n go /eat to where the locals go. Having stayed in Vietnam,how would u plan if u DIY?

  10. Hi Owee, is it possible to do some of the more ‘off the beaten track’ places you mentioned without using a motorcycle……we’re heading for 70 at a fast rate and I don’t fancy riding a motorbike. We have four days before we need to head down to HCM.

  11. Hi, great blog, im travelling to north vietnam (flying to hanoi) for two weeks over Christmas and my instinct/love is always to go of the beaten path and have a bit of an adventure. Is there anywhere in particular you recommend in north Vietnam etc?

    Ill also contact that tour company they sound great. cheers.

    1. Thanks Sam. If off the beaten path is what you want……. Try hiring a rider and seeing the country by motorcycle to places such as Hoa Binh and Son La or Nghia Lo, otherwise most of the travel in the north is on the worn path but still beautiful.

  12. This is just the kind of thing my husband and I were looking for. We’ve been to Thailand a few times and always organised everything ourselves. However, looking at Vietnam, it is so huge and there is so much to see, I don’t even know where to start. It has become apparent that more than one trip will be necessary. I think our preference would be to see some of the culture and what is described above and then a week at the beach(Nha Trang appeals) preferably with some good snorkelling, we would probably have about 3 weeks in April/May ’12 so at the risk of being another person asking you for “personalised” info where do your recommend starting our discovery of Vietnam from? We are not the tourist trap sorts, quite adventurous (we are told) and love the local food and not keen on posh restaurants, the more locals the happier I am. I have to thank you for your wonderful blog – great info, thanks for sharing.

    1. You are welcome Lindy…. If you want adventure and non touristy things, then I am probably who you want to be talking to. I will follow up with a more detailed email email but here is what I might do.
      a 3 day excursion to the Mekong into less touristy areas I have written about
      From Saigon, hire Motorcycle riders to deliver you from Saigon to Nha Trang via Dalat on a 4 day journey on backroads, then after a few days resgt, head out on another 4 or 5 day journey into the central highlands visiting Buon Ma Thuot, Pleiku, Kom Tum, and non touristy Quy Nhon before returning for your week of beaches.

  13. Please could I have the details of the tour company you mention, they are not showing in your blog? Myself and my partner are travelling to Vietnam for 1st time next march and I love the sound of your experience and would like to do something similar

  14. I would love to do the above itinerary, how much am I looking to pay for this tour..based on 2 adults? And please could you let me know the tour company?

    Also, we will be based in Saigon, will they do pick ups from there or do we meet them in Núi ? If so, how long is the drive to Núi from Saigon?

    It’s just that we will have 4 days “spare” to toy around with, and I came across this blog, and loved the idea of not “following the sheep” – going off the beaten track and seeing my birthcountry for real is what is needed!

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