Trekking in Vietnam
Trekking in Vietnam is the most popular thing to do in Vietnam for most travellers. They want to be hiking the countryside with beautiful landscapes all around. A photo of them trekking in Vietnam to show off to their friends back home with a selfie on the rice terraces of Sapa.
Vietnam hikes are so varied and can be explored by all ages and ability of fitness. There are easy Vietnam hikes of just 3 - 4 km on the flat & not so difficult routes. Or for the more advanced hikes in Vietnam, on much longer treks up and down deep valleys and passing through minority villages where very few tourists visit.
Not only trekking or hiking in Vietnam but also a simple walk around the city or town. Plenty to see and do whilst walking in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.
There is a lot to offer trekking in Vietnam and we have compiled a list of the best places to hike in Vietnam. Take a look below and if you wish to add these in to a Vietnam itinerary, contact us today!
A magnificent city with huge potential for a wonderful days walk. The famous Old Quarter & its 36 ancient streets selling their trades for generations. Streets such as shoe street, tool street and even a gravestone street! Mausoleum, Temple of Literature and Tran Quoc Pagoda all within a good days walking in Hanoi. It is best way to see Hanoi City by far!
If safety is an issue for you, keep to the unwritten laws to crossing the road. Keep walking and don’t stop & start (putting doubt in the minds of the driver/rider). Keeping a close eye on the traffic as you cross, you should be fine.
A walk around Hanoi city can be part of a planned tour of the best bits. If you wish to include a private tour with us, contact us now!
We would say that the best trekking in Vietnam can be found in Sapa, without doubt! With its plunging highland valleys, tier upon tier of rice paddies cascading down. To the friendliest local tribes people you will ever meet on your whole Vietnam holiday. A trekking experience is a magical experience.
You can take up a half day or full day trekking in Sapa if staying in the town. But, for the more fascinating experience, an overnight tour is best. Sleeping in an indigenous home is by far the best for your Vietnam holiday.
Witnessing how the local people live, work and play in extremely poor environment. Will certainly hit home how well off you are! Enjoy eating a locally prepared cooked dinner with the family. You must also try out the home brewed rice wine at least once.
Not only is there trekking in Sapa to draw you to this region. How about looking down on the rice fields and valleys? This would be a challenging climb up Vietnam's highest mountain, Mt Fansipan. But well worth the effort!
This trek is best done with a guide as it is quite dangerous alone. A few travelers have already perished up this climb so take a guide and do an overnight trip. This allows you to sleep on the side of the mountain which is very cool! We can offer this as part of your few days in Sapa if you wish.
Overnight in Sapa
Sapa is filled to the brim with unique, popular or challenging treks and would be too much to show here. Your best bet is to check out our 1, 2 or 3 day unique treks and experience the real indigenous tribes with our local Red Dao or H’mong tour guides.
Sapa we feel is home to the best hikes in Vietnam and must be visited for at least a few days to get the best of hiking in Vietnam.
If trekking in Sapa takes up too much time from your itinerary (6 - 8 hours each way). We would suggest taking a look at trekking in Cat Ba or trekking in Cuc Phuong instead, which are much closer. Check further for more details!
Ba Be Lake
Ba Be Lake has some unique trails in amongst the towering limestone peaks, deep valleys and dense forests.
Not to mention trekking trails which take you to the caves & waterfalls which can also include trekking around the stunning lake itself.
With plenty of tribal villages of the Tay minority to visit on the way. Giving you ample opportunity to experience their lifestyle and sleep overnight in their homes.
A trip to Ba Be Lake needs at least two days as it is a good half days drive. We would suggest adding this stop to an itinerary through to the north east where further trekking trails can be found closer to Ban Gioc Waterfalls.
Cat Ba National Park
Cat Ba National Park is an island close to Hai Phong accessible by bus from Hanoi. Once in Hai Phong you can take a ferry across to the island on the south side. From there you take a local bus or taxi to your hotel or homestay, or Cat ba Town which is approximately a 45 minutes drive.
Or, a more direct route to Cat Ba Town, would be by fast boat. Starting in Hai Phong and cruising around the island to reach the central part of Cat Ba Island where you will find all the hotels, restaurants and bars frequented by Vietnam backpackers.
Trekking in Cat Ba offers tremendous lush forestry covering some gorgeous limestone peaks and mountains. There is a great 18km hike through the park and offers a stunning panoramic view over the bay at its summit. A 6 hour challenging trek which would be advantageous to take along a local Vietnam guide.
Trekking in Cat Ba quite often ends in Viet Hai Village, where you can also stay overnight and enjoy a home cooked meal at a homestay,
If trekking in Sapa is just too far away for you, choose either trekking in Cat Ba or trekking in Cuc Phuong as closer options just a few hours away.
Bac Ha is not normally associated with hiking in Vietnam as most people choose Bac Ha to visit the Sunday local market.
Lots of colourfully clothed locals selling their products to other tribes and visitors. A truly wonderful spectacle which should be added to your itinerary.
But, there are some amazing trails near Bac Ha and one such trail starts in Lung Phin, about 12km from Bac Ha.
Lung Phin is also a Sunday market town and much less crowded too. A quick stop here before trekking would be a good idea, but don't buy too much as you have to carry it!
A good 5 hour trek starts here and passes through Quan Hoa Lu Suoi Tung, which is the Flower Village of the H'mong people. Ask for more details on other trails we can offer.
Make a weekend of it by taking the train to Lao Cai from Hanoi on a Friday evening. Once you arrive early morning, take a car to Bac Ha to check in to your hotel and drop off your bags. Then head from here to Can Cau, the best Saturday market in the area.
Plenty to see and do in Bac Ha including your trekking. Contact us for more details of a private tour to Bac Ha.
Cuc Phuong National Park
Cuc Phuong National park is another superb destination in Vietnam for trekking and walking trails. Such a vast amount of amazing plant & animal wildlife gives Cuc Phuong its highly protected status in Vietnam.There is certainly plenty to see by trekking in Cuc Phuong.
Cuc Phuong definitely is the right place for trekking trails to experience nature and wildlife. But for the shorter walks you can start your day walking to the botanical gardens. Once here, you can witness such animals as the langur, gibbons or deer among others.
Treks to the "Cave of the Prehistoric Man" is one of the oldest sites to trek to. Many graves and tools dating back 7500 years, definitely a trek for the history buffs out there.
There are a whole host of treks to choose from. Firstly a 4 hour walk to the Silver Cloud Peak. Secondly a 6km return hike to see a 1000 year old tree. Finally, if you are up to the challenge. A 15km hike to visit and stay overnight at a Muong minority village.
You could spend a week here and get a tremendous amount of trekking in Cuc Phuong ticked off your list.
Hue City is another great Vietnam city to take a good day or two walk around. There is plenty to see and do whilst traversing this wonderful ancient city.
Firstly, start with the most visited spot in the city, the Hue Citadel. A walk around these wonderful ancient grounds can take up a good half day, so definitely bring a hat or umbrella as the sun is very strong in the summer months in Hue.
Secondly, the long promenade stretching along the Perfume river is a great evenings walk. Here you can usually find plenty of students singing in groups, or chatting to each other in the cooler evening air. Check out the tasty snacks available along the way while taking great evening shots.
Finally, exploring the Royal Tombs needs a taxi or private car, which we can offer you. But walking around these grounds can give you a unique sense of pleasure and a workout too. From Terracotta like warriors to colourful and lush parks to walk around exploring the unique history that Hue has to offer.
You can walk for miles around this great city and stop off at any eatery you wish to taste some of the best food in Vietnam. We would recommend a soup called Bun Bo Hue, a delicious local dish with beef and vegetables in a tasty broth and many more.
Take a taxi ride to the base, you can then walk through the rubber trees to an old cannon fort. Housing old bunkers and a tremendous view overlooking the perfume river. As per the photo of myself and our son!
See our article on Best Food in Vietnam for more ideas!
Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park
Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park became a UNESCO world heritage site back in 2003 and houses the oldest karst mountains in all of Asia.
Also being the cave central of Vietnam, with many new caves being discovered every year. The most notably being Son Doong, discovered in 2009 and large enough to fit skyscrapers 40 storeys high, including its own climate and rivers.
If you are lucky enough to be added to the waiting list and also have around $3000 to spend. You too could take the ultimate trekking in Phong Nha on a 4 day hike through Son Doong. This would be a memorable lifetime achievement as it is a pretty strenuous trek and not for the fainthearted.
Trekking in Phong Nha doesn't have to need you to remortgage your house, there are other possibilities too. More budget friendly jungle treks for two and three days.
Trekking in Phong Nha include the impressive Tiger Cave, the third largest cave in the world, Hang Pygmy? Finally there are also single day trekking in Phong Nha, why not head to Ma Da Valley or Elephant Cave.
We have all the options above with professionally run tour operators. Contact us for more information and we could be sending you trekking in Phong Nha in no time.
Bach Ma National Park
Bach Ma National Park can be found on the border of Laos and the Annamite mountain range. It was a typical hill retreat for the French during colonial days for its cool climate. The peak reaches 1450m and is 18km from the sea with a vast array wildlife buried deep in the jungle.
Plenty of hiking trails can be found starting at the visitor centre with maps of the trails available. But, there are still plenty of UXO here in Bach Ma so sticking to the trails is advisable. A local tour guide or full day trek can be organised for you by Travel Agent Hanoi.
Hoi An in central Vietnam is the best & safest town to walk in Vietnam. The ancient streets of Hoi An are closed off to the traffic and only allowing the cyclo riders (Vietnamese on a bicycle with front seat for passengers).
This gives Hoi An a unique offering for walkers who wish to avoid the busy traffic you see in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.
Walk past the quaint boutique shops, local markets & riverside cafes on cobbled streets. Enjoy a very romantic setting for your Vietnam holiday.
In the evenings after dinner at any number of excellent restaurants. You can stroll along the riverside watching locals & tourists setting their lanterns afloat down the river. If you are staying on the main side of the ancient town. You can take a walk over the bridge to the island to see the night market. Here you can take a selfie amidst the colourful lantern shops.
Ho Chi Minh City
Walking around Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon) is very easy and safer than it is in the capital in Hanoi. Unlike Hanoi, there are wider walkways and paths for tourists, not motorbikes!
There are many landmarks you can take walks to and all within easy reach from your central hotel in District 1. Independence Palace, The Old Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral all within a few minutes walk. The latter two are next door to each other!
The street opposite the French Colonial buildings are a popular walking street as traffic closed off in the evenings. These lead up to the harbour and take in views of some very interesting buildings such as the Opera House round the corner.
Enjoy a walk to the two local markets in district 1 such as Ben Thanh Market or Thai Binh Market. These markets have dozens of small alleyways with hundreds of small stalls. Pedlars all vying for your trade to buy many types of gifts for your family back home.
Cat Tien National Park
Cat Tien National Park has many decent trails to offer but requires transport to and from the treks. A guide would also be advisable to get the most from your day.
One particular trail is around 3 hours long & 4km which brings you to the Crocodile Swamp. There are also opportunities to stay the night to witness the animals drinking from the swamp at night.
How about a more exclusive trek in Cat Tien National Park? One unique trek to see a family of Gibbons. This is a specialist tour and requires transport, guide and overnight stay. Contact us for details!
Con Son Island
Con Son Island lies in the Con Dao region, where there are plenty of unique forest treks to take, a guide is advisable.
One particular stunning trek takes you through thick forests & mangroves leading to the Bamboo Lagoon (Dam Tre). Starting from near the airport, with guide & snorkeling gear in tow. After a two hour trek, a stunning location where you can go snorkeling to cool down from the walk.
Another mentionable trek is to the fruit plantation So Ray. Through the rainforest to One Dung Bay and Ma Thien Lanh Bridge (built by prisoners during the French occupation).