A Hidden Gem for Nature Lovers in Central Vietnam

As an avid nature lover, I'm always on the hunt for beautiful natural destinations that are still relatively untouched by mass tourism. On a recent trip to Central Vietnam, I discovered just such a place - a scenic spot called Hang Rai in Ninh Thuan province.

Hang Rai is located right in the center of some of Central Vietnam's top tourist draws like Da Lat, Nha Trang and Mui Ne. However, it seems very few international visitors are aware of this unique natural wonder. The area is home to ancient coral reefs estimated to be millions of years old, as well as phenomenal 'waterfall caves' formed by the ocean tide.

Hang Rai impresses tourists with its majestic and unique natural scenery.

I took a pleasant 1-hour drive from Nha Trang on well-paved roads to reach Hang Rai. Perched on a hilltop, the sweeping views of granite mountains and azure waters took my breath away. But it's the site itself that is truly incredible. The rocky shoreline is made up of towering coral structures jutting out of the South China Sea. Within these rocky formations are sea-level caves containing pools that seem to change color with the moving tide.

Ancient coral reef slab seen from afar. Photo: Nhan Dan Newspaper

When the tide rises, waves crash whitely against the reef, forming a unique waterfall in the middle of the sea. When the tide recedes, tourists can walk along this heavenly reef. Photo: Dao Duy Tan.

What's especially fascinating is that during high tide, waves crash spectacularly against the coral shelters, resembling a natural "waterfall over the ocean". Low tide then reveals pathways across tide pools full of sea life. I spent hours exploring every nook and cranny of this unusual seascape. Photographers will be thrilled by the infinite scenic opportunities.

I also enjoyed relaxing on the beach and taking a boat trip through the more distant coral formations. My guide pointed out rare marine life among the kaleidoscopic reefs. Snorkeling here is a must for seeing colorful fish and huge sea fans up close. In the evenings, I watched the sunset turn the coral fiery shades of orange and pink.

While tourism is still in its early stages, basic accommodation and meals can be found in the nearby villages. I opted to camp under the stars, lulled to sleep by the ocean waves. Overall, Hang Rai left me feeling deeply reconnected to nature - I'll definitely be back to experience how it changes throughout the year. For those seeking true natural wonders away from the crowds, Central Vietnam's best kept secret is calling.


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