First published November 2022 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

Tom Divers is the founder and creator of Vietnam Coracle. He’s lived, travelled and worked in Vietnam since 2005. Born in London, he travelled from an early age, visiting over 40 countries (he first visited Vietnam in 1999). Now, whenever he has the opportunity to make a trip, he rarely looks beyond Vietnam’s borders and his trusty motorbike, Stavros. Read more about Tom on the About Page, Vietnam Times and ASE Podcast.

Toward the end of the year, the southwest monsoon abates and the dry season kicks in, bringing with it an extended period of clear skies, sunshine, warm temperatures and cool nights to most provinces in southern Vietnam. I like to think of this as ‘Camping Season’: a months-long window of ideal weather conditions for sleeping outside in the varied landscapes of the south. Whether in a tent or a hammock, on the soft, sandy beaches along the coast or the pine-studded slopes of the Central Highlands, camping during this season is a joy and one of the most memorable independent travel experiences you can have in Vietnam. But, successful and responsible camping requires a certain amount of planning and equipment, care and diligence. Sadly, as camping has enjoyed a surge in popularity, particularly post-pandemic, several articles in domestic media have highlighted the problems of trash and environmental damage associated with this booming trend.

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CAMPING SEASON:

A Collection of Camping Guides for Southern Vietnam

Few travel experiences offer the connection to nature that wild camping does. Camping is an engaging, intense, and unique travel activity. On this website, I encourage responsible, independent camping as a way to interact with the Vietnamese landscape and create lasting memories. Although the southern dry season extends from roughly November through May, the height of ‘Camping Season’ is December to March, during which most regions south of Nha Trang, Buôn Ma Thuột and Dalat are sunny, warm and dry. Below, I’ve linked to all my camping guides, which include specific details about how, when and where to camp, along with maps and photos. I’ve also written a brief introduction to camping culture in Vietnam and the growing issues associated with it.

CONTENTS:

Camping Culture in Vietnam

1. Camping on Dragon Beach

2. Motocamping South-Central Vietnam

3. Camping in Dalat

4. Camping on the La Nga River

5. ‘Lost Year’ Camping in the Pine Forests

6. Lunar New Year Motocamping Trip

7. Camping the Ocean Road

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Camping Culture in Vietnam

Camping is especially popular with Vietnamese Millennials and Gen Zers, for whom the activity is often associated with freedom and independence. Camping is inexpensive, fun, cool, convivial and offers plenty of photo opportunities for social media posts. Although the legality of independent wild camping in Vietnam is something of a grey area, tens of thousands of people go camping every weekend and on national holidays. Vietnamese online camping communities boast hundreds of thousands of members and followers. After the pandemic, when travel restrictions were lifted, camping became the ultimate expression of post-lockdown liberty; of being able to be outside again. These days, many more foreign travellers and residents camp than did so in the past. Sadly, however, personal litter and disrespect for the natural environment are huge issues within Vietnam’s travel industry, which now includes camping. Unfortunately, due to the actions of a minority of people, camping is starting to be seen as a nuisance in some circles. If the popularity of camping continues to grow, but attitudes to personal trash don’t improve, I think it won’t be long before there’s an effort to clamp down on independent camping in Vietnam.

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Camping on Dragon Beach

Sleeping on the sands of the beautiful and deserted northern beaches of Phú Quốc Island is a real adventure. The northern coast is by far the most attractive, peaceful, naturally striking and least developed part of the entire island. Along the northern bays, there are no hotels, giant construction projects, burger joints, or backpacker bars. Instead, there’s acres of dense jungle rolling down steep hillsides right to the water’s edge, where seams of white sand lie totally empty and the sea is calm, clear, shallow and turquoise, and the sun sets between the Cambodian islands in the Gulf of Thailand…..continue reading

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Motocamping

Motocamping (‘motorbike-camping’) is thrilling, challenging, fulfilling, and still a relatively niche activity among foreign travellers in Vietnam. You’ll see landscapes and natural settings, encounter people and places – a whole side of Vietnam – that are far off the beaten path.  If you’re well-prepared, you can be almost entirely self-sufficient for many days…..continue reading

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Camping in Dalat

Wild camping under a canopy pine trees in the chilly, misty mountains north of Dalat is a camper’s dream. Purple mountains cloaked in pine forests stretch into the misty distance, the smell of wood smoke and coffee blossom scent the cool air, and the stillness and silence of the alpine landscape is broken only by the whispering of the wind through the tall pines…..continue reading

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Camping on the La Nga River

Midway between the coast and the mountains, the La Nga River runs clean and clear with dozens of potential campsites on its banks and opportunities for wild swimming. The banks of the river are bursting with fruits and foliage, behind which densely jungled mountains rise steeply…..continue reading

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‘Lost Year’ Camping Trip

To mark the end of 2020 (the ‘Lost Year’), my friends and I went on a wild camping trip in the forests of the Central Highlands. Knowing we were fortunate to be able to engage in an outdoor activity in nature such as this at a time when many of our friends and relatives in our home countries were still experiencing Covid lock-downs or social-distancing, we wanted to make the most of our relative freedom, and mark the end of what had been, for everyone, an unexpected, challenging, and in many ways life-changing year…..continue reading

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Tet: On the Road & Under the Sky

Lunar New Year (Tết) is traditionally a time of gathering: of family and friends; of people and parties. But the Tết holiday in Vietnam is also a time of noise and crowds; of pollution and overcharging. In February 2018, I undertook to spend my Tết holiday in relative peace and solitude. I took my motorbike, my tent, and my guitar and set off for 11 days on the road and under the sky…..continue reading

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Camping the Ocean Road

Pitch your tent under a coconut palm just metres from the surf and enjoy Vietnam’s south coast sleeping in the open air. New coast roads offer great riding, spectacular views, excellent swimming and camping opportunities. By linking the Ocean Road, Sand Dune Highway, Dragons’ Graveyard and Núi Chúa Coast Road you can create a spellbinding coastal road trip. At the time of writing (November, 2022), I haven’t updated the Ocean Road camping guide for some time so specific details may be out of date; however, most of the guides to each section of coast road (linked above) were recently updated in 2022…..continue reading

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*Disclosure: All content on Vietnam Coracle is free to read and independently produced. I’ve written this guide because I want to: I enjoy camping and I want my readers to know about it. For more details, see the Disclosure & Disclaimer statements and About Page

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