A trip to Vietnam’s capital is likely to involve a full itinerary of activities and sightseeing, but putting aside time to check out the best hiking by Hanoi is something everyone should do.
Even with such a bustling metro area, the city has a few outdoor locations within a few kilometers that are great for getting a breath of fresh air. Indulging in northern Vietnam’s outdoor scenery allows for a complete trip experience.
One of the best times to visit Hanoi is February through April when warm spring days are standard. Late autumn, September through November, is another good time to visit as the rainy season is coming to an end and the temperatures start to cool off. Hiking near Hanoi is the best on dry days to avoid slips and stepping in a lot of mud.
Here are Hanoi’s top hiking spots, listed in order of proximity to the city center:
Hoan Kiem Lake Loop – 3 km | 10 minutes
The 1.7 km/1.1 mile-loop around Hoan Kiem Lake isn’t what most people would call a hiking path, but it’s a beloved walking path around one of the city’s centerpieces. This trail is perfect for walkers of all ages and skill levels looking for ways to spend more time outside without venturing too far out of Hanoi.
Visitors and locals alike enjoy speed walking, running, or strolling on this route to get some exercise, especially in the mornings and evenings. The pathway is partially paved, and the area around the lake is good for birdwatching and enjoying views of wildflowers and the metro area.
Bay Mau Lake – 4 km | 10 minutes
Situated by Quận Hai Bà Trưng near Hanoi, the Bay Mau Lake loop trail is easy for people of all experience levels. The 3 km/1.9 mile path goes entirely around Bay Mau Lake giving walkers great views of the city and the water. On average, the trail takes less than an hour to complete. This is an ideal location to spend some time outdoors without leaving the central part of the city.
Red River Island Loop – 7 km | 25 min
The Red River Island Loop is an easy 8.5 km/5.3 mile hike set in Long Bien, just outside Hanoi. It takes the average person a little over two hours to finish, and the trailhead is located at the Long Bien footbridge and continues to go around the island in the middle of the Red River.
There isn’t a lot of shade on this trail, so it’s best to do it in the early morning or evenings during warmer months. The path is partially paved, but the island itself is a fantastic city retreat for people looking to get some exercise in nature without having to travel far.
Nui Tram – 20 km | 35 minutes
Located near Huyện Chương Mỹ, the Nui Tram trail is an easy one that’s fit for the entire family. This short 1.1 km/0.7 mile out and back path features a cave and beautiful mountain scenery. The dirt path is well defined and surrounded by grass, so it’s not difficult to follow.
There are plenty of opportunities for photographs as the entire area is scenic. Additionally, there is no shade on this hike, so it’s best to do it in the early morning or late afternoon hours.
Thien Phu Lam – Lee Garden Loop – 35 km | 55 minutes
Visitors looking for a stress-free, easy hike should turn to the Lee Garden Loop located in Soc Son District of Hanoi. Taking a little more than an hour to complete on average, this 3 km/1.9 mile trek is a pleasant one that features stunning wildflowers and a beautiful forest backdrop.
This hike can be the perfect morning or evening activity, as it’s long enough to enjoy the outside but short enough to do other things with the day.
Ham Lon South Loop – 36 km | 1 hour
Located in the Soc Son District, the Ham Lon South Loop is a 4.6 km/2.9 mile trail that winds through the jungle and offers plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing. Only gaining 264 m/866 feet of elevation, this moderate is somewhat on the easier side when it comes to difficulty.
The canopies of trees provide shade for hikers, and the path is unpaved, requiring suitable footwear. On average, this hike can be completed in less than two hours, making it perfect for a morning adventure.
Ham Lon Loop – 40 km | 1 hour
Hiking enthusiasts looking for a rugged trail in northern Vietnam should look no further than the Ham Lon Loop, based in the Soc Son District. This intense 9.33 km/5.8-mile path has a 660 m/2,168-foot elevation gain and can take up to six hours to finish, on average.
Hiking the Ham Lon Loop should only be done on a dry day, as some of the pathways are steep and can be slippery, especially on the way down. The start and endpoint to this trail are just to the east of the Nui Bau Lake by the campground where the three roads meet.
Ho Dong Do Loop – 40 km | 1 hour 5 minutes
The Ho Dong Do Loop in Soc Son is a moderate trail that sees a lot of traffic from hikers, both local and tourists. It takes the average person about four and a half hours to complete the 14 km/8.7-mile trek, beginning and ending on the south side of Ho Chua Lake.
This loop has many homestays along with the route offering options to travelers who visit the area and prefer to make it a multi-day trip. The Ho Dong Do Loop features excellent lake views, camping spots, fishing locations, and plenty of wildlife to look out for on the trek.
Ho Chua Loop – 42 km | 1 hour 5 minutes
This 14.6 km/9.1 mile loop is a moderate hike based out of the Soc Son district and takes about five hours to complete. The path begins at the southern part of Ho Chua Lake and loops to the west and over the water.
Some of the features of this hike include forest scenery, lake views, and opportunities for wildlife watching. This route has an elevation gain of 520 m/1,706 feet, so it does require being somewhat in good physical shape.
Cu North Dong Do Loop – 47 km | 1 hour 10 minutes
The Cu North Dong Do Loop is a moderate hike near Soc Son in Hanoi with 504 m/1,653 feet of elevation gain. The entire loop is about 11.9 km/7.4 miles long and takes about four hours from start to finish. The trailhead is just to the east of the Soc Son View Tower. Some of the features of this trek include wildlife watching, forest scenery, and pretty vistas of the surrounding area.
Den Tho Dinh Vu – 66 km | 1 hour 30 minutes
Located in the Ba Vi National Park, the Den Tho Dinh Vu trail is a moderate out and back 1.77 km/1.1-mile trek suitable for all ages and experience levels. Taking about 45 minutes on average to complete, this shorter hike is excellent to include on days with other plans.
The views on this path are stunning, especially the assortment of wildflowers. Hikers also enjoy running into the occasional animal in this subtropical environment.
Ham Lon Peak – 67 km | 1 hour 45 minutes
The Ham Lon Peak trail is 3.3/2.1 miles long and popular for hikers, runners, and bikers. It has been used as a marathon trail in the past and has an incline that reaches up to 378 m/1,240 feet of elevation gain. This moderate trail is family-friendly and often trafficked by tourists with children.
The scenery is incredible and features a lot of lush forests, campgrounds, and sweeping views from the top of the peak.
Ba Vi Prison Trail – 68 km | 1 hour 35 minutes
The Ba Vi Prison Trail is a short forest trek only stretching 1.7 km/1.1 miles and is appropriate for people of all hiking skill levels. Set in the Ba Vi National Park, this trek is ideal for anyone wanting to see more of northern Vietnam’s natural environment.
This hike only takes around 45 minutes to complete out and back and features some wildlife, forestry, and a cave along the way. An old prison covered in foliage is also on the path, and visitors can walk on certain parts of it.
While the city of Hanoi has a lot to offer, taking time out to experience some of Vietnam’s natural environment is a must-do. These trails are ideal for anyone looking for a reason to get outdoors and see more of the country’s stunning scenery.