Say what you will, but Vietnam is probably the quintessential Southeast Asian destination. Nevermind the fact that the Vietnamese conical hat has been misused (and abused) by tourists, becoming a “symbol” of intrepid travel in the region, even in places completely unrelated to the country.

Vietnam has also seen a 25.4 per cent increase in international visitors over the past seven months, over the same period last year, according to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam.

Yes, most visitors are bound to get caught up in the fast-flowing streets of popular tourist spots like Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi, but there is definitely more to the diverse country. In fact, it’s in the rural areas — the highlands, rivers, rice terraces and padi fields — where you can find hill tribes and other ethnic groups, allowing you to truly experience the culturally-rich country.

The next time you’re visiting Vietnam, set aside more time to explore these unspoiled rural areas and beautiful landscapes that will take up more than just a weekend.