Off The Beaten Path – Exploring Vietnam and Cuba

Vietnam and Cuba are becoming popular holiday destinations with travellers looking for somewhere to different to visit and wanting to experience a few adventures off the beaten track and away from the normal touristy regions.

With this in mind, here’s a couple of  suggestions for both countries:

Vietnam

The Mekong Delta is a region of lush, fertile and tropical lands and is around 40,000 square miles in size. It’s often referred to as the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam because of its huge production of rice. It’s also rich in exotic fruits and vegetables. Life in this area revolves around the waterways and is the only way to see and understand it. Get up early and watch the floating markets, you may also pick up a great bargain. It’s a serene and natural setting which seems a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Set in the mountains north of Hanoi is one of Vietnam’s most stunning national parks and also one that is the least visited. Ba Be which means ‘three bays’ has 3 beautiful interconnecting lakes. You can take a one day excursion by long boat which will take you to the Hang Puong Cave which is inhabited by thousands of bats. This is followed by a visit to the Thac Dau Dang waterfall. Alternatively, the national park is a great place for bird watching and you can happily trek around here all day long. When you visit this majestic place you’ll likely stay at the village of Pac Ngoi which is the perfect place to experience a Vietnamese homestay.  It’s a great opportunity to mix with the locals, help the children with their English homework and explore the village. A luxurious holiday to Vietnam, off the beaten track or not, won’t disappoint.

Cuba

One of the best ways to get off the beaten path at Cuba is to rent a moped and head in any direction away from the resorts. You can find some great places. Head out west from Santiago and travel for around 10 miles where you suddenly come across many public access beaches with hardly anyone on them. Why not park up your moped and chill on the beach away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist resorts. This is real Cuba at its best. You can also hop on a multi centre Cuba holiday if you prefer a more planned, yet still exploratory, trip.

Thirty minutes East of Santiago de Cuba is the resort of Playa Daiquiri. Unlike the more obvious tourist resort of Varadero this resort in unspoilt and inexpensive. A real gem. There’s cabins to rent for the night which are dirt cheap as well as restaurants serving up delicious rustic food.