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Ultimate Guide to Do Hiking in Vietnam

December 23, 2023 - 14119 views

Vietnam has many attractions, some can be easily reached by modern vehicles like cars, buses…, some can only be visited on foot. Going off the beaten track to explore soaring limestone mountains, tiers of rice fields and plunging highland valleys are unforgettable things you can experience on foot in Vietnam.

For some reason, a lot of Vietnamese can not recognize the difference between “hiking” and “trekking”. Most Vietnamese think they have the same meaning, activity of walking long or short distances on foot to explore places like hills, mountains, valleys, countryside, terraces, the national park or forests... Hiking (or trekking) in Vietnam offers a unique experience and something you must try. Through the country, there are a lot of things to explore. The below article will include a list of popular places to hike in Vietnam and some information that is helpful for you when joining this kind of adventure.

Trekking/Hiking in Vietnam

Trekking/Hiking in Vietnam

4 Reasons to do Hiking/ Trekking in Vietnam

Plenty of beautiful trekking routes

Hiking (or trekking) in Vietnam is an interesting activity to do for many adventurous travelers. Thanks to the diversified topography, Vietnam offers many stunning trekking routes with varying levels of difficulty, making them suitable for different health conditions and those with different levels of experience. It can be an easy walk through historical villages in Mai Chau or a long-distance jungle trek in Cuc Phuong national park, a hard trek to the highest mountain in Indochinese Peninsula, Fansipan Mount. They are all incredible, offering you chances to see the best of Vietnam.

Meet the ethnic minorities

Vietnam is the home of 54 different ethnic minorities. Kinh people accounting for over 85% of the population of Vietnam often live in the big cities or the surrounding areas, while the tribal people mainly live in the mountainous areas, which sometimes can be reached by trekking only. On the trek to the remote areas, you will have a chance to meet many local people: women working in the fields, children playing and looking after one another... They are friendly people, so you can easily talk with them, which definitely gives you a really authentic insight into the lives of the villagers.

Breathtaking mountain views

Besides the thousand-kilometre coastline, Vietnam also attracts tourists with its marvellous mountains. A third quarter of the country’s topography is mountainous areas, and mountain ranges are located in different parts of the country. Anywhere you go in this country, you will find a place to trek and enjoy the breathtaking views from the mountains.

Immerse yourself with Vietnam’s culture

There is no other best way to immerse yourself in Vietnam’s culture than to trek to mountainous areas and stay at a homestay. It is great when you get to meet the natives in the mountains, do the farming with them, get a taste of authentic Vietnamese cuisine, and stay in their homestay.

Trekking/Hiking in Vietnam

Fansipan Mount, popular trekking destination in Vietnam

Best Hiking Trails in Vietnam

1. Y Linh Ho - Lao Chai - Ta Van in Sapa

Sapa, located about 320 km to the northeast of Hanoi is among the best destinations for trekking in Vietnam. This town is famous for its spectacular mountain scenery including terraced rice paddies and wonderful mountain villages. It offers diverse and beautiful hiking trails from 5 to 20 km, the best of which are Y Dinh Ho – Lao Chai- Ta Van villages. The trekking road is small and narrow, but beautiful with fertile terraced fields adorned by the green of corn and rice. … The highlight for trekking to these villages is staying at the homestay, where you can explore the local culinary and cultural traditions as it is the home of some Vietnamese ethnic minorities.

Trekking in Sapa

Trekking in Sapa


2. Tay Con Linh, Ma Pi Leng, Ma Le in Ha Giang

Ha Giang is a mountainous province in the extreme north of Vietnam, which is home to 22 ethnic groups, as well as the spectacular scenery of green mountains, stunning rice terraces, winding rivers, flower valleys, and serpentine roads. The province owns many wonderful hiking and trekking routes such as Con Linh –one of the most challenging trekking routes, Ma Pi Leng - also known as the Happiness Road, offering mind-blowing panoramic views and Ma Le- a village that hosts a traditional market on the weekends, place to bring people together.


3 Trekk through Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba National Park in Cat Ba island is a perfect place for trekking thanks to its karst peaks, thick forest jungles…There is even a museum, a rehab center, a small zoo, etc. inside the national park. For a short trek, you can start from Kim Giao Forest to Ngu Lam Peak or Trung Trang to Uy Ban Grottoes. If you are looking for a longer trek with more than 10 km, let start from National Park HQ to Ao Ech and Viet Hai. The best time to trek is from September to October.

Trekking through Cat Ba National Park

Trekking through Cat Ba National Park


4. Sin Suoi Ho village, Putaleng, Pusilung mountain in Lai Chau

Situated at 1,500 m above sea level, Sin Suoi Ho is a commune of Phong Tho District, 30 km from Lai Chau Town, capital of northwestern province Lai Chau. There are 3 different ways to travel to Sin Suoi Ho: from Muong So through Nam Xe, through the primaeval forests filled with experiences; or from Lai Chau city through Then Sin with the soft asphalt road which is adorned with terraced fields of rice; and through Sang Ma Sao, Bat Xat District. The village attracts more and more visitors thanks to its natural scenery including wild sunflowers, terraced fields, majestic waterfalls, and unique cultural characteristics.


5. Hiking through Pu Luong Nature Reserve

Pu Luong Nature Reserve is another area of outstanding beauty, biodiversity along with minority ethnic’s cultural values stretching from Mai Chau in the North to West to Cuc Phuong national park in the South East. It is blessed with rich forest, limestone panoramas, magnificent rice terraces, and breathtaking scenery. Trekking in the forest and along with rice paddy fields, through the reserve, and visiting beautiful small villages such as Ban Sai, Ban Hang, Ban Kho Muong, or Ban Hieu is among the most favourite activities to do in this reserve.

Best time to trek: During rice harvest season, from September to November or February until May.


6. Conque Fansipan Peak

Fansipan Mount the highest mountain in Vietnam and in the Indochinese Peninsula is among the best places to trek in Sapa. Trekking in Fansipan is not easy, however, you will be able to see stunning Sapa including serene gardens and pagodas, see terraced rice fields, or blooming flowers. Popular treks to Fansipan Mount are Tram Ton- Fansipan - Tram Ton, Tram Ton - Fansipan - Muong Hoa valley, but if you are professional trekkers, challenge yourself with Cat Cat stream, Doc Mit (Binh Lu ward) - Fansipan – Sapa town. The best time to conquer the peak is from April to May & from September to November

Fansipan trek

Fansipan trek


7. Trek through Cat Tien National Park

Cat Tien National Park located in three provinces in the south of Vietnam: Dong Nai, Lam Dong, and Binh Phuoc, approximately 150 km north-east of Ho Chi Minh City. The park is characterized by its lowland tropical forest with rich and diverse flora and fauna including hundreds of species of mammals, reptiles, birds, and fish as well as primates such as gibbons and langurs, Asian elephants, clouded leopards, and sun bears. Cat Tien is also recognized by UNESCO as a “World Biosphere Reserve. It is a great place for those who want to get away from the bustle of the big city, get back to nature, stay in the middle of the forest, and go trekking. Popular treks in Nam Cat Tien are trail walk to Giant Tung Trees, Crocodile Lake, Wild Gibbon, or the dormant volcano ridge of Green Hill. The best time to trek in the national park is from December to May each year. It is the dry season when the weather is very pleasant and suitable for trekking.


8. Mu Cang Chai terraced rice fields

About 300km in the north-northwest of Hanoi, Mu Cang Chai is a mountainous province where you can find the most majestic terraced rice fields of the country. Hiking is a great way to absorb Mu Cang Chai’s scenery at a slower pace. You’ll pass layers of rice terraces, tea, and corn plantations, and higher up, primary tropical rainforest. Mu Cang Chai is beautiful all year round: young green rice stems in the summer, golden yellow in the autumn, and the rice fields are filled with water mirroring the sky in the winter. And once spring comes, the farmers are in the fields planting a new crop.

Trekking in Mu Cang Chai Ricefields

Trekking in Mu Cang Chai Ricefields


9. Hoang Su Phi in Ha Giang

Hoang Su Phi is another beautiful land of terraced fields in Northern Vietnam. This area is less visited by visitors than other places in Ha Giang, so still retains its pristine beauty and serenity. The district has a relatively complex topography and is home to 12 different ethnic minorities. They live mainly on cultivating terraced fields on gentle slopes, creating the ravishing beauty of valleys. When trekking in Hoang Su Phi, tourists will pass the mountain jungle and the trails of Hill tribe walking, be impressed by the vast space of the fields winding around the mountainsides and traditional small houses scattering in the valley below.


10. Lang Biang Mountain

Lang Biang mountain, located about 12 km from Dalat center, is a popular trekking destination, the symbol of Dalat city. Trekking in Lang Biang Mountain is a little bit challenging, but you will have the chance to pass a vegetable farm, pine tree, and jungle forest. From the summit of Lang Biang, you can see the Silver and Golden Streams and Dalat City. The best time to trek to Lang Biang is from September to November


Tips & Experiences

Before the treks

  • Decide which place you want to see best things to do in Vietnam(ethnic villages, mountains or national parks, etc), how long the trek, and know the best time to visit that place (rainy season is not recommended because the roads can be slippery)
  • Be well prepared and ready for physical and mental challenges
  • Ask the local people for more instructions or hire a local tour guide if necessary.

What to take on the treks

  • Wear neat and comfortable, bring along a jacket to keep you warm at night.
  • Bring enough food and water, sunscreen, anti-insect cream, and a first-aid kit.
  • Bring flashlight or headlamp
  • Bring hiking boots of high quality, your tent, and a warm sleeping bag.
  • Bring a raincoat or waterproof jackets and pants in case it rains
  • Bring GPS navigation devices and a map.


Trekking Vietnam

Trekking shoes

Hope the above information is useful for your trekking in Vietnam. If there is something you need to know, do not hesitate to contact us.

Looking for other interesting things in Vietnam, visit our website and see Top 20 Amazing Things To Do in Vietnam 2021

Jenny Tran

Image sources: Internet

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