12 Best Places for Trekking in Vietnam

Top Treks and Trails to Get off the Beaten Track

Rachel Tran
Rachel Tran | Published: October 11, 2019

Are you an adventure seeker? If so, you may love trekking in Vietnam. The country offers excellent trekking with remarkable sceneries. And, you may get an unforgettable trip with the images of soaring limestone mountains, tiers of rice fields and plunging highland valleys, etc. Read on this quick guide about tips and best places for trekking in Vietnam in Vietnam!

Essential Tips on Trekking in Vietnam

Trekking preparation

Take the following tips for consideration so that you can have the best experience when it comes to trekking in Vietnam.

1. Before Going on Treks

  • Think about how long you will travel, what kind of place you want to see (ethnic villages, mountains or national parks, etc.), the period you are in Vietnam (it’s better to stay here in the dry season – the best time for trekking in Vietnam)
  • Be well prepared and ready for physical and mental challenges
  • Check out the weather forecast. It is not recommended to hike on rainy days when the roads are too slippery.
  • Ask the local people for more instructions or consider hiring a local tour guide with you.

2. What to Take on Treks

  • Enough food and water and a first-aid kit
  • Hiking boots with high quality
  • Raincoat or waterproof jackets and pants in case it rains
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • GPS navigation devices and a map.
  • For long hikes, bring your tent and warm sleeping bag
  • Sunscreen and mosquito repellent

12 Best Places for Trekking in Vietnam

1. Sapa (Lao Cai)

Trekking in Sapa
(@suguidestrekking)

Level of trek: Easy 

Highlights: Located quite far from Hanoi and right next to the neighboring country, China, Sapa is famous for its spectacular mountains, jade hued rice paddies and unique culture as a home of some of the Vietnamese ethnic minorities. It offers diverse and beautiful hiking trails such as Cat Cat village, Y Linh Ho village, Ta Phin village, Muong Hoa Valley, Ham Rong mountain, Sky Gate, etc. Especially, Sapa is the home of the highest peak in Vietnam: Fansipan mount (3143 m). 

Best time to trek: from March to May when it is dry and clean; and from September to November if you want to enjoy the terraces

How to get there:

It is 320 km to the northeast of Hanoi. There are several ways to get there: by bus, by train, or by motorbike (drive on your own). Note that Sapa is a mountainous area, and very far, so it’s only for hardcore riders.

Popular treks in Sapa:

There is no specific map if you choose to trek by yourself in Sapa. Most people get lost in the beauty of the land and cannot find the way out. So, there are some recommended trek routes for you if you want to experience quite easy trekking tour level:

  • Lao Chai Village (5 km from the town of Sapa)
  • Sin Chai Village (5 km from the town of Sapa)
  • Ta Van Village (10 km from the town of Sapa)
  • Hau Thao Village (11 km from the town of Sapa)
  • Ta Phin Village (12 km from the town of Sapa)
  • Ban Ho Village (21 km from the town of Sapa)

Things to keep in mind: 

  • Before taking photos of local people, ask them. In some cases, you must pay money for them.
  • Make copies of all your documents in case you lost the original ones.
  • Bargain half prices for anything.

2. Mai Chau (Hoa Binh)

Mai Chau
(@traveltoasia.xyz)

Level of trek: Easy 

Mai Chau is well known for easy trekking. If you are a beginner, this is a place to go.

Highlights: Only 150 km far away from Hanoi, Mai Chau seems like a totally different world with the idyllic, rural valleys, peaceful atmosphere and laid back ambiance. There are some places to visit: Thac Bo Temple, Thung Khe pass, Mo Luong lake, White Rock pass, Chieu Cave, Go Lao waterfall, Hoa Binh lake, etc.

Best time to trek: from late September to early May

How to get there: catch a bus in My Dinh bus station in Hanoi to Mai Chau, or enjoy driving a motorbike on your own.

Popular treks in Mai Chau:

For experience the slow life of the Thai and H’mong people: Ban Buoc, Cun Pheo, Hang Kia,…

For more challenging trek: Mai Chau valley, Pu Luong Nature Reserve, Cuc Phuong National Park

3. Pu Luong Nature Reserve (Thanh Hoa)

Pu Luong nature reserve

Level of trek: moderate to challenging

Highlights: If you are heading back to Hanoi from the middle of Vietnam, you must add Pu Luong nature reserve to your list. It is the combination of Northern Vietnam’s beauty with beautiful terrace rice fields as Sapa, the magnificent passes as Ha Giang and large fields as Mai Chau. Visiting Pu Luong reserve, you also have the chance to experience the daily life and culture of the Thai and Muong people.

Best time to trek: during rice harvest season, from September to October and from February to May.

How to get there: catch the shuttle bus that takes you directly to Pu Luong from Hanoi Old Quarter.

Popular treks in Pu Luong: A popular trekking adventure will take you to Pu Luong jungle and beautiful small villages like Hang, Kho Muong, Kia villages. Some popular trekking routes: Hieu village – Nua village, Nua village – Son village.

Things to keep in mind: 

Although Pu Luong is a huge national forest, there are still restaurants and accommodation service areas. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about staying overnight there.

4. Ha Giang

Ha Giang for trekking in vietnam

Level of trek: easy

Highlights: Ha Giang is also known as the “Final Frontier of Vietnam” for its sweeping views of carpets of flowers, karst mountains and colorful markets of ethnic minority communities. Their highlights include Yen Minh, Meo Vac valley, Ma Pi Leng Pass, Duong Lam village.

Best time to trek: October to December 

How to get there: catch a bus in My Dinh bus station, it takes 6 hours to 8 hours

Popular treks in Sapa:

  • Dong Van valley
  • Si Phai Mountain Village
  • Trung Son – Bo Dot – Hop Nhat
  • Tam Son town (Heaven’s gate)
  • Sky Path: Col de Ma Pi Len

Things to keep in mind: on the map, there is a road between Niem Son and Yen Minh, which is noted as a big road, but it’s actually a mountain track. The best route would be going from Meo Vac through Lung Phin.

5. Cat Ba National Park (Cat Ba Island) 

Cat Ba island
(@juli_wetter)

Level of trek: easy

Highlights: Located on Cat Ba island, Cat Ba National Park attracts tourists not only thanks to the beautiful sea but also a number of highlights and attractions, which make your trip promisingly enjoyable. Inside the national park, there is also a museum, a rehab center, a small zoo, etc. And, some viewpoints that you can find while hiking would be worth your going.

Best time to trek: from September to October

How to get there: The best way is to catch a shuttle bus in Nguyen Huu Huan street, Hanoi.

Popular treks in Cat Ba National Park:

  • Kim Giao Forest – Ngu Lam Peak (1.5 km)
  • Trung Trang & Uy Ban Grottoes (1.2 km)
  • National Park HQ – Ao Ech – Viet Hai (14km trekking and walking)

Things to keep in mind: 

  • Fires, tree felling, branch cutting, and hunting are not allowed in the forest
  • Watch the time out because the national park closes at 5 pm.

6. Cao Bang

Cao Bang trekking

Level of trek: moderate

Highlights: Cao Bang is a frontier region of North Vietnam with immense beauty. The landscape here is famous for jagged mountains, thin winding roads, and sporadic rice paddies. Choosing Cao Bang as trekking trails, you should not miss these places: Ban Gioc Waterfalls, Nguom Ngao cave, Thang Hen Lake, Pac Bo cave, and Ky Sam Temple.

Best time to trek: from October to April

How to get there: You can take a bus in My Dinh or Gia Lam bus station in the morning or evening. 

Popular treks in Cao Bang

  • Ba Be National Park
  • Pac Po cave – Trek Nam Nhung
  • Tong Cot Village
  • Ta Lung border town

7. Cuc Phuong National Park (Ninh Binh) 

Level of trek: easy

Highlights: 120 km from Hanoi, Cuc Phuong National Park is a popular destination for numerous tourists. Visiting this place, you have an opportunity to witness its diverse ecosystems of flora and fauna. The highlights include: visiting Endangered Primate Rescue Center, bird watching, wildlife Night-spotting, seeing the 1000-year-old tree. And, of course, trekking here is also an exciting thing to do.

Best time to trek: the dry season from December to April

How to get there: The distance is not too far and you have several ways to get to Cuc Phuong: going by train from Hanoi train station, catching a bus in My Dinh or Giap Bat bus station, or hiring a private car.

Popular treks in Cuc Phuong National Park:

  • Cuc Phuong primary jungle – Muong Hoa village
  • May Bac peak (700m above seawater)

8. Ba Be National Park (Bac Kan)

Ba Be national park
(@lacontessa.rc)

Level of trek: easy

Highlights: Also known as Ba Be Lakes, the National Park is centered on Vietnam’s largest natural lake. It features gorgeous scenery with dense rainforests, waterfalls, deep valleys and soaring limestone mountains. There are many hiking trails that you should try. The best way to explore the region is a multi-day trek passing karst outcrops, waterfalls, caves and rice fields.

Best time to trek: from April to October

How to get there: book an online ticket for a bus. (price: USD 18~10)

Popular treks in Ba Be National Park:

  • Po Lu village
  • An Ma Island
  • Puong Cave
  • Dau Dang Waterfall

9. Cat Tien National Park (Dong Nai)

Cat Tien national park

Level of trek: easy

Highlights: Located between Ho Chi Minh and Dalat, Cat Tien National Park is a treasure trove of biodiversity. There are a lot of the world’s most endangered species living there. It is the place for getting back to nature, staying in the middle of the forest and going trekking. 

Best time to trek:  from December to May when the paths are dry.

How to get there: catch a bus from Ho Chi Minh (VND 80.000) or ride your motorbike.

Popular treks in Cat Tien national park:

  • 30 Botanic Garden Trails
  • Ban Sau – Crocodile Lake
  • Ta Lai Ethnic Village

10. Lang Biang Mountain (Da Lat)

Lang Biang mountain
(@dangquocdi)

Level of trek: moderate

Highlights: Located about 12 km from Dalat center, Lang Biang mountain is not only an attractive tourist attraction but also a story of passionate love. The mountain is home to some ethnic minorities such as Lach and K’Ho. Therefore, the trip to Lang Biang Mountain is not just exploring nature; it is also experiencing the new culture. Although a little bit challenging, hiking to the top of Lang Biang is worth a trek. 

Best time to trek: from September to November

How to get there: catch a local bus No 5 from Da Lat bus station, or book an online bus ticket if you travel from HCM City.

Popular treks in Lang Biang Mountain:

The most popular trek is conquering the Lang Biang Peak – the symbol of Dalat city.

On the way to the peak, you have the chance to pass a vegetable farm, pine tree, and jungle forest. And then, enjoy the feeling of standing on the top looking over Dalat and surrounding areas from above.

11. Son Doong Cave (Quang Binh)

Son Doong cave @top10traveldestinations

Level of trek: extreme

Highlights: Son Doong Cave is the most special cave in Vietnam. Discovered locally in 1991, the cave remains relatively untouched until now when comparing it with well-developed caves in all around the world. It’s beyond your average adventure underground. The largest cave in the world, Son Doong, leads you to a number of unique environments to explore. Each year, the number of permits to explore the cave is limited, only 200 travelers/year. So you need to prepare carefully and register in advance for your trekking.

Best time to trek: from February to August when the weather is cool

How to get there: catch a bus to Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, then pass through the only village in there.

Things to keep in mind: 

You should call a travel agency to book for trekking in Son Doong Cave. Normally, you may wait for several months to one year.

12. Fansipan (Sapa)

Fansipan
(@george_farah)

Level of trek: moderate

Highlights: Fansipan Mount is the pride of Sapa residents for being the highest peak in Vietnam with a height of 3.143 m. Each day, Fansipan attracts at least 1.000 trekkers because of the magnificent view from the summit and beautiful path climbing up. Trekking in Fansipan Mount, you can expect serene gardens and pagodas, captivating sights from the summit. If you have no experience in trekking, you can consider hiring a porter or using cable cars to reach the summit of Fansipan mount.

Best time to trek:  from April to May, and from September to November

How to get there: 

  • Catch a shuttle bus which departs from Old Quarter to Sapa town.
  • Or take a train from Hanoi railway station to Lao Cai and then catch a bus to Sapa town.

Popular treks to Fansipan Mount:

  • Tram Ton, and return on the same trail
  • Tram Ton, return over Muong Hoa valley – Cat Cat stream (20km)
  • Doc Mit (Binh Lu ward) to the top of Fansipan (for professional trekkers only)

Things to keep in mind: 

If you want to go for a trek in Fansipan, you need to get permission from Hoang Lien Son management board. You are expected to pay some fees such as trekking, insurance, forest management, hygiene fees. The total cost is around VND 200.000.

Trekking in Vietnam is a must and a favorite thing for any trekkers. The above trekking spots will make your trip to Vietnam more meaningful and interesting. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about trekking in Vietnam.

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