When most travellers think of Vietnam, I think it’s safe to say most think of it’s golden sandy beaches and clear ocean water. However, Vietnam has some of the best hiking trails anywhere in the world! Hiking in Vietnam spans the entire hiking spectrum, from easy walks through historic villages and on scenic beaches, to long-distance jungle treks.
What I love about hiking in Vietnam is the array of different hikes you can take. In the north of the country, you’ll be able to hike with some remarkable mountain scenery. Whereas, you’ll find trails in nature reserves and national parks elsewhere in the country.
Sapa is well known for being a great hiking destination. Some parts of Sapa are well-trodden but many villages and routes still cover vast wilderness and jungle treks. I went through Vietnam Backpackers Hostel, which takes you to Sapa, and you will hike with a local guide. If you want to see mesmerising views, fabulous valleys and crystal clear streams, then you’ll love Sapa.
Although the hike isn’t strenuous and it’s very accessible, do be mindful of the heat. The heat can be tough to contend with due to just how hot it is, and bring lots of sun cream, so you don’t burn!
Nevertheless, Sapa is easily one of the best places to go hiking. It gives you a lot of different things which make the entire experience enjoyable. You can obviously go hiking with impressive views, but you can also swim in the rivers, have a magnificent sunset/sunrise and also stay with some locals.
Mai Chau offers some incredible landscapes and is definitely worth the visit to hike. Trekking in Mai Chau is the best way to discover Vietnam’s rural hamlets and to experience its rich ethnic culture. One of the things I really liked about Mai Chau is the peace and quiet that it offers you. Located more than 130km from the busy city life of Hanoi, the region gives you a break from the hustle and bustle.
The most natural landscapes you’ll see during your hike here are stunning mountain views, far-reaching valleys and rice fields just buried within them. The region’s network of trails is dense meaning that you will have a lot of different paths to choose from. The best thing to do here is either take a tour like Sapa. Where you can take an overnight homestay trip. However, if you want to mix it up a little, you could just do it solo and choose the paths as you see fit. Hiking is all about enjoying your surroundings and having a great time. As long as you enjoy brilliant views, I’m positive you’ll love Mai Chau no matter which path you take!
Cao Bang, again, offers something utterly unique to either Sapa or Mai Chau. Obviously, you still have brilliant mountain views, but you’ll also have some impressive tribal villages to go and explore. An absolute must when hiking in Cao Bang is Vietnam’s largest waterfalls, which is also one of the most majestic cascades in Southeast Asia – Bang Gioc Waterfall.
The main trek will take you to Bang Gioc Waterfall, but also has some other cool things along the way. The trek will take you past a series of remote tribal villages of the Tay, Hmong, Nung and Red Dao people, before heading to Pac Bo village. It shouldn’t need to be said, but obviously, treat the people with respect while you hike through!
You’ll also get to visit the Coc Bo Cave, which is famed by Ho Chi Minh for his revolutionary activities here in 1941. The walk to the waterfall is one of the easiest which we have gone through so far—a little bonus which the hike offers; is stunning views of Ba Be National park. The national park is home to a vast amount of caves, lakes and ponds.
Ha Giang offers one of the best views you’ll see in Vietnam. Why the Ha Giang trek is so popular with travellers is that you’ll be able to stand on the highest peak of Dong Van. A border town with a series of awe-inspiring mountain passes and valleys. The hike is more challenging than the others we have so far commented about. But it is totally worth exploring as it’s worth extra you have to put in.
Several of its trails run along with the mountain range from Dong Van to Meo Vac which is why the route can be challenging. There are a lot of ascents to finally get to where you want to be. However, the views are absolutely to die for!
When you’ve reached your final destination – the top of Ma Pi Leng Pass, you’ll see why all the hiking was worth it. The pass offers a panorama of mountain ranges, limestone peaks and canyons. Views you cannot get anywhere else in Vietnam. During your descent, you’ll wander down into some deep valleys which make for a magnificent sunset!
There are a lot more different treks which Vietnam offers, and I could go on forever going through them all. However, I have tried to choose the very best hikes which provide something for everyone. When hiking, it is essential to take it as your own pace and be patient. Some of the treks are easier than others. However, some can be quite challenging because of the inclines and ascents you have to do. Obviously, in Vietnam, the heat is another obstacle to overcome as it can get as hot as 35c when you’re hiking.
Nevertheless, hiking in Vietnam is one of the most fun activities on offer and really gives you a great experience! If you are spending time in Vietnam you might also like to read this article about Kayaking in Vietnam.