Story: Huong Quynh
Photos: Hai Le Cao

It goes without saying that whenever Hai Le Cao posts an album of photos or stories on social media, he creates a stir and piques the public’s interest. His artistic photographs feature vibrant characters wandering through vast nature. Heritage Magazine is thrilled to chat with Hai Le Cao about his passion for traveling and exploring the wilderness.

Hanging out in Na Hang, Tuyen Quang Province

What drew you to exploring the wilderness?

I was initially drawn to the majestic and magical beauty found only in wild nature. In that refreshing environment, I sense my body and mind reconnecting with what is most natural. Everything in me is restored and re-energized. I always treasure those moments of freedom and complete liberation from the stresses of everyday life.

Limestone islets rise from the sea in Cat Ba National Park, Hai Phong

You don’t just travel to keep your feelings to yourself; many of your articles and photos are widely circulated in the media. What message do you want to send to the general public?

I want to connect to and inspire a community of people who value nature and our instinctive feelings. I believe that the energy I gain from each trip, as well as the positive messages, will spread more widely. The groups Sinh ra để hoang dã (Born to be Wild) and Cho con đi chơi (Let Me Travel), for which I’m an administrator, have attracted many members with the same passions who share information of interest to those who love wild destinations. I have also invited group members to join me and experience harmony with nature on many occasions. Everyone’s happiness at the end of each trip is also mine!

An old tree on Ta Xua Mountain in Yen Bai Province

The wilderness is frequently associated with adventure. What advice would you give to people interested in wilderness tourism?

The statement “Wild places and adventure go hand in hand” is not entirely accurate. We must learn about a destination before traveling there, including its topography, weather, short-term climate changes depending on the time of day, and the local customs. Then, we create a schedule based on our interests, as well as factors such as our health and free time. Those who wish to try their hand at wilderness travel for the first time should go with a group of friends or seek advice from experienced travelers.

Burned palm trees in Na Hang, Tuyen Quang

Summer is a popular travel season. Can you recommend any suitable vacation spots for Heritage’s readers?

When it’s hot outside, I always fantasize about dipping into a sparkling stream or standing beneath a cool frothy white waterfall. This can be achieved at Na Hang, Tuyen Quang Province; on Minh Chau Island of the Quan Lan archipelago in Quang Ninh Province; in Cat Ba National Park in Hai Phong Province; on the white sands of Ninh Thuan Province; and on the rocky plateau of Ha Giang Province, all of which are untouched by over-tourism.Travel to Na Hang and float on the surface of a hydroelectric lake. Visit Khuoi Gun Waterfall and get a foot massage from schools of fish. Conquer Nam Me Waterfall and camp on the picturesque oasis-like grass fields at sunset. My other suggestion is to go on a one- or two-day trek in Cat Ba National Park, where the lush green trails are easy to navigate. If you enjoy the sea and islands, consider visiting Minh Chau Island. You can camp right on the deserted sands, listen to the waves crashing day and night, and immerse your soul in the green and blue beauty of the sea, sky, and trees. Hang Rai in Ninh Thuan is also a great place to greet the sunrise on an amazing rocky beach. These are just a few of the pristine destinations in Vietnam waiting to be discovered. If you have the opportunity to go on those journeys, please share your experiences with me, and spread your love of wild places to the community.