When you’re visiting the bustling metropolises of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, it’s tough to imagine stunning hikes winding through nature. But Vietnam has plenty of those. With mountain peaks, rolling forest and miles and miles of coastline, there’s a variety of natural landscapes to enjoy on a hike.
Often overshadowed by its nearby neighbor, Ha Long Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay National Park boasts the same beauty with fewer tourists. Underdeveloped and immaculate, the park is divided into both terrestrial and aquatic zones. One of only seven amphibian national parks in Vietnam, and ideal for travelers willing to take the time to wander …
List + Map of Hiking Trails in Vietnam
From short day hikes to longer backpacking trails, there’s a little of something for everyone. Some of the hiking trails in Vietnam lead to wonderful landmarks, both natural and manmade. Hike to the famous christ statue in Vung Tau, a Buddha statue inside a cave in Da Nang’s Marble Mountain, as well as up to the highest point in Vietnam, Fansipan.
Guide to Day Hikes and Backpacking in Vietnam
Hiking is an everyday activity in Vietnam, but unlike many trails in the United States and Europe that are clearly defined, the terrain is often unpaved and can be difficult. The country’s regions have vastly different environments, so trekking in more than one part can provide unique experiences and scenery.
Doing hikes throughout Vietnam is the best way to see the beautiful landscapes at ground level and is excellent for creating memorable adventures.
Depending on what region you’re traveling to, it’s wise to check the weather and see what type of clothing and tools you will need to bring. However, some of the standard items to pack include:
- A sturdy pair of water-resistant walking shoes or boots
- Long pants
- Short-sleeve shirts
- A pair of shorts
- Rain jacket or poncho
- Insect repellent
- Hat and sunglasses
- Plenty of water
- Compass, knife and lighter
- Map if applicable
Self-guided and guided hiking tours
There are two main ways to hike in Vietnam, the first is to take self-guided paths, and the second is to book a private guide to lead you on the correct route. Tourists often opt to hire a guide due to challenging terrain and unmarked trails.
Many hikes in the country are multiple-day treks, meaning that supplies have to be packed and sleeping accommodations are figured out ahead of time. A lot of the time guided tours will take care of all your tents and meals for you.
There are also shorter hikes that can take up to a few hours and are perfect for a day trip. These are found all over the country and even in the big cities if yo know where to look.
Northern Vietnam Hikes
Vietnam’s northern region is more rugged and mountainous, making this the ideal location for hiking if you’re in search of cooler weather and unspoiled environmental charm. Anyone spending time outdoors in this part of the country can expect to see towering lush mountains, green rice fields, and tiny villages in every direction.
No matter which part of the north you decide to spend time outdoors, you’re sure not to be disappointed.
Ba Be National Park
Ba Be has officially been a national park since 1992 and calls tourists who enjoy going off the beaten track to come to explore it. Aside from walking through some of the most beautiful jungles you’ll ever see, the limestone mountains, freshwater lakes, and caves are all a part of the environment.
Located 240km/149 miles from Hanoi, it’s possible to visit this park in a day trip, but tourists get more out of it when they book a multi-day tour of the area. Some popular spots to see near and in Ba Be National Park include the Ba Be Lake, Dau Dang Waterfall, Thac Bac Waterfall, and Hua Ma Cave.
For overwhelmingly stunning scenery, make sure to include doing a hike in Ha Giang on your itinerary, a hidden gem in the northern region. It’s important to know that this province is the northernmost area of Vietnam and shares a border with China, so expect to spend some time in the rural and rugged countryside.
For that reason, it’s recommended that adventurers book a multiple-day hiking tour with a local guide that knows the area and can show you around safely. Ha Giang is about a seven-hour ride from Hanoi, and while accommodation options are simple, there are a few that you can stay at.
maybe link to the Ha Giang LOOP
Cat Ba National Park
Cat Ba National Park has many guided and unguided tours, making it appealing to people who want just a short hike and those who wish to take on an extra-long trek. The park is covered in dense green trees and is home to 32 types of mammals, including the most endangered primate globally, the golden-headed langur.
Cat Ba National Park has trails for every hiking level, such as the one-mile Ngu Lam Loop for beginners, the 1.5-mile Navy Peak trail for moderate trekkers, and the 7.4-mile Cat Ba Park’s Headquarters – Frog Pond – Viet Hai path for experts.
Fansipan is Vietnam’s tallest peak, and while some people might be excited to take on a challenge, others might opt for an easier way to explore the mountain. There are a few multi-day guided tours up the peak, but there’s also a route that can be done in one day for experienced hikers who can handle a roundtrip of 14 miles.
A 15-20 minute cable car ride is also available to take you near the top, and while that defeats the purpose of hiking, there is still a lot of vertical stairs and hiking to go after the cable car. Expect at least another 30 minutes from the top of the station. There’s an option for taking an additional tram to the actual peak. Either way, there is plenty to walk around and look at near the summit.
Mu Cang Chai
Listed as a national heritage site, Mu Cang Chai is a scenic area that appeals to hikers and photographers. Some of the most popular trails include those that go through terraced rice fields, forests, and small villages. While these hikes can be accomplished independently, they are recommended with a local guide over a four-day journey to get the most out of it.
Central Vietnam Hikes
Central Vietnam is home to highlands, rainforests, and several miles of coastline. While this area is far between the country’s two most popular cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, it has many cultures and natural beauty to offer outdoor recreation enthusiasts.
Hang En Cave
For the most epic hiking experience of a lifetime, book a multiple-day trekking journey to the Hang En Cave, the third-largest cave in the world. Having a moderate fitness level is required due to the challenging areas that arise on the path.
The trip’s final leg ends at the cave, which has three entrances and is nestled in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in the Quảng Bình Province. Tourism companies like Oxalis Adventure Tours are great for making a trip like this, as they only allow a maximum of 16 people and have their own medic and tour leaders with the group.
Tuyen Lake in Da Lat
Exploring Tuyen Lake in Da Lat is best done on foot, as the gorgeous and poetic scenery deserves time to be absorbed by visitors. Many tours led by local guides can be booked ahead of time, often with a boat trip or overnight experience included. In addition to that, many restaurants around the lake serve up their famous grilled bush-meat, which usually consists of wild boar meat.
Nha Trang is a beautiful area in Central Vietnam and has an array of hiking and walking tours available near and within the region. A couple of the most popular guided tours in Nha Trang for half-day treks include the Fairy Mountain Climbing Tour and the three-hour Morning Market tour through the city.
For a self-guided hike, Hon Ba Mountain is a little further away than Fairy Mountain and is ideal for hikers looking for something more challenging, but the trek can be made short by journeying up to the Ba Ho Waterfall.
Southern Vietnam Hikes
Southern Vietnam is best known for its Mekong Region and floating markets, making it a haven for outdoor lovers. There are several excellent trails to conquer on this side of the country, but keep in mind that the rainy season for South Vietnam is between May and November and can create obstacles for many of the paths.
Dinh Mountain is about a three-hour drive away from Ho Chi Minh City and stands at 500m/1,640 ft tall. The trails range from easy to moderate and are between 3 and 13 kilometers ( or 2-8 miles) in length, making this area a great choice for hikers of all skill levels. This mountain is one of the best ones for a day trip, considering it is only a couple of hours away from a big city by motorbike and will take roughly four hours at most to complete the longest hike.
Chua Chan Mountain
Situated in Dong Nai, Chua Chan Mountain not only houses several pagodas, but it is one of the favored spots for hiking by residents of Saigon. Visitors can take a cable car ride up to one of the main pagodas on the mountain, and from there is the opportunity to continue towards the peak on a hiking trail. Some people make a two-day hike out of this path, spending the night a little way up the mountain and even in the cable car station using a tent.
Cat Tien National Park
Located about three hours by car from HCMC, Cat Tien National Park is one of Vietnam’s most significant parks and was once the home to some of the region’s natives. The area is surrounded by tropical forests and has a considerable variation of wildlife living in the park, such as bears, hornbills, civets, wild boars, pheasants, and more.
There are long and short trails at the park. Some of their most popular paths being Crocodile Lake, Cat Tien Gibbon Loop, and the Bat Cave Loop, also known as Ta Lai Longhouse.
There are many more parks and trails to hike in all of Vietnam, but these ones are some of the best. With such a variation in scenery and climate around the country, there is something new to trek each time you visit.