Vietnam’s lakes may not get the same notoriety as its limestone karsts, stunning beaches, and immense caverns, but this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be on your itinerary. With a predominantly rugged topography and copious amounts of rainfall, it’s inevitable that all that water had to pool together somewhere.
Fortunately, the lakes of Vietnam are one of many facets that make a trip to this Southeast Asian jewel a worthy destination for any nature lover.
Here are among the most famous lakes in Vietnam, in no particular order:
Ba Be Lake, Bac Kan Province
Ba Be Lake is not only the largest freshwater lake in Vietnam but also the most famous. Located to the north of the capital Hanoi, this lake could be visited as a day trip. But to fully appreciate the lake and its surroundings in Ba Be National Park, spending a night in the area is a good idea.
The lake derives its name from a term meaning “three lakes”, and is essentially a trio of lakes that form one unbroken waterway with a surface area of some 500 hectares. Like many other natural locations of note, it comes with its own legend and origin story. Yet even today, the mystique of this natural gem remains intact for visitors coming to witness the beauty and culture on display.
The park is home to several indigenous peoples as well as a host of wildlife in the form of mammals, insects, and birds. The limestone mountains serve as the home of several cave systems, such as the 800 meter-long Hua Ma Cave with its showpiece 50-meter tall cavern.
Another popular attraction in the immediate vicinity of Ba Be Lake is the Dau Dang Waterfall, also known as the Ta Ken Waterfall, which is a stunning series of rushing cascades filtering through the lush greenery. For a lake and mountain combination with relatively easy access to a major gateway, Ba Be Lake and the national park that surrounds it are a must-see for visitors.
Lak Lake, Dak Lak Province
Vietnam’s second-largest natural lake is Lak Lake, in Dak Lak Province, which is in the Central Highlands, northeast of the bustling metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City. As a destination off the usual tourist routes, an organized tour can be a great way to see this lesser-known attraction without the discomfort of having to figure out and navigate the necessary logistics of getting there.
The lake has a surface area of approximately 5 square kilometers and is believed to be the deepest lake in Vietnam with a maximum depth of over 50 meters. Activity on the lake is active as its been for centuries, and the main draw is the opportunity to interact with the local M’nong people and witness their culture in a non-packaged sort of way.
Visitors can enjoy fishing, hiking, and boating, with the opportunity to enjoy the latter in a traditional dugout canoe. Come sunrise and/or sunset, you’ll want to have your camera ready to capture the incredibly picturesque and tranquil scenes that reflect in the lake’s placid waters.
Bien Ho Lake, Gia Lai Province
Staying in the same area of Vietnam’s Central Highlands, Bien Ho Lake in Gia Lai Province is another hidden gem that gets rave reviews. Set amidst a mountainous backdrop, Bien Ho Lake is known for its crystal clear water. An altitude of approximately 900 meters ensures that visitors will enjoy comfortable temperatures year-round compared to the sweltering heat found at lower, coastal elevations.
Those who visit in autumn will be treated to the sight of brilliant yellow wildflowers coming into bloom. In the mornings, the mist over the 200 hectares of surface area makes for an evocative scene. Regardless of the season, Bien Ho Lake is a worthy destination for those looking for beauty and tranquility in Vietnam’s gorgeous landscape.
Thac Ba Lake, Yen Bai Province
A three to four-hour ride northwest of Hanoi will bring you to Thac Ba Lake in Yen Bai Province. This is the largest artificial lake in Vietnam, and its over 23 thousand hectares are all courtesy of the Thac Ba Hydroelectric Plant. Thac Ba Lake is famous for its over 1300 hill islands that rise above the surface of the water like a miniature Ha Long Bay, which makes for a spectacular and unique geological setting.
The region in and around Thac Ba Lake is of cultural significance, with several minority groups calling the region home. This was also a site of historical importance to the Vietnamese people as the location of a decisive battle against Mongol invaders as well as a safe harbor for the Anti-French and Anti-American resistance movements.
While Thac Ba Lake can be reached independently, its tourist infrastructure is not yet fully developed. Seeing the lake as part of an organized tour will save you much in the way of uncertainty and hassle.
Tuyen Lam Lake, Lam Dong Province
Despite being an artificial lake, Tuyen Lam Lake near Da Lat in Vietnam’s Central Highlands offers an abundance of natural beauty. Visitors come for the peaceful setting among wild pine trees and clear blue water. The lake serves as a hub for the usual range of lake-based activities such as boating, fishing, hiking, and mindful contemplation.
In the immediate area of Tuyen Lam Lake, you can take in a lovely panorama from the Tuyen Lam Lake Viewpoint, wander through Lavenderdalat Gardens, or explore Dalat Infinity Lake. Those interested in culture can get in touch with their spiritual side by visiting the Truc Lam Zen Monastery.
Yen Phu Lake, Quang Binh Province
Most visitors to Quang Binh Province come for the incredible spelunking opportunities in some of the largest cave systems on the planet. In recent years, Yen Phu Lake has risen to popularity as the filming location for the movie Kong – Skull Island. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts is said to have chosen this location as the fictional island due to its surreal beauty.
One glance at the mist-covered mountains that form its backdrop and you’re sure to agree.
A visit to Yen Phu Lake can also be combined with organized tours to breathtaking Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park. Phong Nha Cave is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is claimed to be one of the seven most beautiful caves in the world, making this stunning region in Central Vietnam a great base for exploring the country’s wide-range of natural wonders.