Hiking in Vietnam: A Guide

Samuel Clennett
31.03.20
5 minute read

For many avid hikers, a trip to Vietnam is a dream come true. The country boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, from dramatic limestone mountains to highland valleys and pristine sandy beaches.

Vietnam offers hiking adventures of all kinds, from easy to mid-level walks through historic villages to multi-day jungle expeditions.

Before you hit Vietnam’s hiking trails, make sure you get your travel money sorted. Get a TransferWise debit MasterCard and you can spend on Vietnam’s mouth-watering cuisine without needing to carry cash with you. Best of all, there are no hidden fees and you’ll get the real exchange rate every time you spend in Vietnamese dong¹.

Hiking in Vietnam

Vietnam is the perfect place to visit if you’re an ambitious hiker who likes a challenge. There are many thrilling multi-day hikes in Vietnam, where you’ll discover waterfalls, jungles, hill tribes, spectacular mountain views and much more. These treks are definitely not for novices (unless you have a guide), and you’ll need the right kit – some trails can take 10 days or even more to complete.

While most of the best hikes in Vietnam are overnight treks, there are options for those who prefer a less strenuous hike. For example, you’ll find a choice of shorter and easier trails for hiking near Ho Chi Minh City – from pagodas and cable cars at the top of Chua Chan mountain to the Suoi Da waterfalls at Nui Dinh.

Some of the most popular hiking trails are found in northern Vietnam, but there are also opportunities to enjoy nature and wildlife in one of the country’s many national parks and nature reserves.

Best hiking trails in Vietnam

Whether you want a day-long hike in a national park or to test your mettle out in the wild on a multi-day trek, Vietnam offers limitless opportunities for outdoor adventures.

Here are just a handful of the top hiking trails in Vietnam⁵,⁶,⁷:

  1. Sapa

This small mountain town in Lao Cao Province is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Vietnam, but it’s a toughie to get to. You can expect a 10-day adventure through indigenous villages, valleys, mountain peaks and a succession of uphill and downhill walks. You’ll see some of the country’s most remote villages and enjoy local cuisine and culture in your homestay accommodation.

  1. Lang Bian Mountain

One of the top hiking trails in Vietnam, this route involves a trek to the summit of one of the tallest mountains in Dalat. There’s lots going on at Lang Bian, from rock climbing and camping to a thriving local culture. You’ll also get a brilliant view of Dalat City from the top.

  1. Ba Be National Park

Also known as Ba Be Lakes, this stunning natural spot features waterfalls, and dense rainforests, all based around Vietnam’s largest lake. There are numerous hiking trails for all abilities, with multi-day treks to discover rice fields, waterfalls and caves.

  1. Cao Bang

Expect a trek of four days to reach tribal villages including the Pac Bo village, where you’ll find the famous Coc Bo Cave. This is a relatively easy and pleasant walk, offering views of the majestic Ban Gioc Waterfall and Ba Be National Park.

  1. Nam Cat Tien National Park

If you’ve come to Vietnam for the wildlife as well as the walking, head to Nam Cat Tien National Park. This beautiful park boasts gibbons, wild boar, sambar deer and many rare and endangered species, with a three-day gibbon trek being one of the most popular activities here.

  1. Ba Na Hill Resort

For scenic views and not-too-backbreaking a hike, tackle the trails in the Ba Na Hill resort. This unusual destination is home to theme park-type attractions such as a French colonial town and a funicular railway, but there are also waterfalls and plenty of great viewpoints along the way.

  1. Cat Ba National Park

If you’re up for a strenuous climb, head up the 18-kilometre mountain trail on Cat Ba Island. It takes around six hours to complete the hike, and there’s the chance to see civets, macaques, deer and amazing views along the way. It’s recommended to take a guide on this challenging but wildlife-rich walk.

  1. Cuc Phong National Park

This is the oldest national park in Vietnam, as well as the largest. Cuc Phong is a really special place to visit, as its one of the most crucial conservation areas in Vietnam and boasting extraordinary biodiversity. Take your pick from a range of hiking trails, suitable for all abilities.

  1. Pu Luong Nature Reserve

For calm, quiet and picturesque walks in the Vietnam countryside, go to the Pu Luong Nature Reserve. It’s made up of two parallel mountain ranges, with a biodiverse valley in between. Stay overnight and you’ll get the chance to explore forests, rice terraces and limestone hills.

  1. Ha Giang

At the end of this five-day trek is the high peak of the Dong Van plateau. The hike is challenging as it runs along mountain passes and valleys, but you’ll be rewarded with unforgettable panoramic views across mountain ranges, canyons and deep valleys.

Guided tours

Hiking in Vietnam usually involves a multi-day trek through unspoiled wild, natural landscapes, with difficult terrain including mountains and jungles. To stay safe and get the best from your experience, it’s recommended to book onto a guided hiking tour – especially if you’re a novice.

You’ll have a huge choice of tours, treks and expeditions to choose from, spanning all corners of Vietnam. You can expect to pay around $267 AUD² for a three-day trek in Nam Cat Tien National Park, and upwards of $1597 AUD² for a five-day trek to Ha Giang.³

Things to watch out for when hiking in Vietnam

The first thing to pack for your Vietnam hiking trip is some super strength insect repellent, but a sturdy pair of hiking boots come a close second.

As well as insects and challenging terrain, hikers in Vietnam should also watch out for the weather. It all depends what time you visit, as hot and humid days can be just as much of a hiking obstacle as drenching monsoon rains.

As a rule of thumb, stick to September to December, or March to April.⁴ If you’re hiking in North Vietnam, the driest weather can be found from October to May.

If you’re embarking on multi-day hikes in Vietnam, especially those involving towering mountain peaks, make sure to pack plenty of insulating layers in case the temperature drops.

You could spend months hiking in Vietnam and not see it all. The country offers such a rich and varied landscape for all kinds of outdoor adventures with abundant wildlife, lakes, mountains, rice fields, deep valleys and so much more to see along the way. You’re bound to have the trip of a lifetime.

Sources:

  1. Travel Card VND
  2. Conversion Rate
  3. Treks in Vietnam
  4. Packing for Vietnam
  5. Hikes in Vietnam
  6. Best Treks
  7. Hiking in 2020

All sources accurate as of 10-March 2020.


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