Dubbed as the Land of the Ascending Dragon because of its shape on the map, Vietnam is a nation with great food and unique culture. Not to mention that it is quite famous for being blessed with natural wonders. With Vietnam’s great greens and mighty mountains, it has captured either the interest or the heart of travellers from all over the globe.
If you haven’t experienced the country’s hiking scene yet, fret not because we’ll talk about the best hikes in Vietnam.
Not only will we talk about where to hike in Vietnam, but we will also give you some tips about the best time to hike in the country. So, before stuffing your rucksack with all the things you’ll need for that lengthy vacation, check out the following best hiking spots in Vietnam.
BEST TIME TO HIKE IN VIETNAM
First things first, you want to find out is when the best time to take the best hiking trails in Vietnam before you book a flight. The season is equally important as the destination. You don’t want to end up finding yourself struggling to trek a slippery and accident-prone path, because you didn’t equip yourself with the knowledge about the country’s seasons.
Also, Vietnam’s weather patterns vary from one particular destination to another, which is another reason why you should familiarize yourself with its seasons, and the climate difference between north and south. Then you can figure out what to wear on your Vietnam hike.
North of Vietnam
To be able to enjoy the best hiking trails in Vietnam’s northern parts, you should go there between March and May, as well as between September and November. These are the periods when the heat is bearable and not much rain is pouring down.
You should avoid the winter months, especially between January and February, because it can get freezing during this season. The low temperature and fog is your main obstacle to enjoying these parts of Vietnam.
You also want to avoid taking a hike during the rainy season, which is between May and September because the trails may be slippery and challenging to hike.
Central Vietnam’s rainy season begins in August and ends in December. These parts of the country are known for having really heavy storms, especially in its coastal regions. That said, you should stop any hiking plans you have during this season because the wet paths and strong winds will make your supposedly enjoyable hike into a painstaking, even life-threatening journey.
If you want to experience the best hikes in Vietnam’s central parts, go there during the dry season. This is between January and July. You’ve got six long months of dryness; six whole months for you to explore the natural wonders of these parts.
South of Vietnam
It’s best to avoid Southern Vietnam’s rainy season because of the apparent risk involved in hiking wet and slippery trails which is between May and November. These are the months when the rains are heavier than usual, and the winds are stronger than average.
The best treks in Vietnam’s southern regions can best be enjoyed between October and February where the weather is much friendlier.
THE BEST HIKES IN VIETNAM
Now that we’ve got the weather out of the way, and you know which months to avoid and which season to enjoy, it’s time to talk about the hiking trails in Vietnam. So, have a look at the following best-hiking destinations in the north down to the south of Vietnam.
North of Vietnam
Home to fascinating karst topography, sprawling temples, and beautiful rice terraces, you’ll enjoy a lot of rural features in these parts of Vietnam. Plus, it is also home to some of the best hikes in Vietnam. Let’s find out more:
Sa Pa is a town that sits in the Lao Cao province near the border of China. It is approximately 318 kilometres (197 miles) from the city of Hanoi. With traffic and weather conditions that could affect the travel time considered, it should take you about 6-7 hours to travel by road.
Because Sa Pa is surrounded by mountains and greens, it has some of the best hikes in Vietnam. Aside from the views, another reason why this is a popular hiking spot is that there are several trails that you can choose from.
If you’re new to hiking, Cat Cat Village is just a short walk from Sa Pa. For a more advanced hiking experience, you can take on the Heaven’s Gate or Ta Phin Village trails.
- Best way to get there: in terms of travel time, riding a private car is the best option, albeit the most expensive. The cheapest option would be by bus at $10 ride on a bus from Hanoi, take the train for $15-$30
- Cost: the entrance fee costs anywhere between $1 and $3, depending on the trail
- Level: Easy to difficult depending on the trail, you can always ask your guide
Still, in the province of Lao Chai stands the tallest mountain in all of Indochina, the Fansipan Mountain is located just 9 kilometres from Sa Pa (5.5 miles). About 257 kilometres (around 160 miles) from Hanoi and the travel time takes approximately 7-8 hours factoring in the traffic and even the transportation transfers.
What makes Fansipan one of the best hikes in Vietnam aside from the bragging rights that you’re able to conquer its highest mountain, is the breathtaking views and scenery that it offers its visitors. With elevation gains of up to 2000 meters (6560 feet), the mountain provides sufficient challenge for both newbies and veteran hikers.
- Best way to get there: from Hanoi, the best way to travel to Fansipan is by bus. The fare typically costs around $50 to $60, you can also take the cable car
- Cost: the entrance fee to Fansipan is about $15 to $16
- Level: Difficult, but easy if you take the cable car
Ba Be National Park
Ba Be National Park is situated in the province of Bak Khan which sits on the Northeastern side of Vietnam. Located around 204 miles (127 miles) from Hanoi, it will only take you around 4 to 5 hours to travel. What makes this one of the most exciting hiking trails in Vietnam is that it’s home to Ba Be Lake, a freshwater lake amidst forests and limestone formations.
Hiking one of the trails around Ba Be Lake will give you a lot of opportunities to enjoy mother nature’s best in Vietnamese soil. If you’re lucky, you might see some of the wild animals that live in the area. Rhesus macaques, red giant flying squirrels, and several species of birds and reptiles consider Ba Be National Park as their home.
- Best way to get there: Aside from the apparent private car ride, a bus ride will get you to Ba Be National Park in 4-5 hours for just $13
- Cost: it costs around $15 to enter Ba Be National Park
Pu Luong Nature Reserve
In the Quan Hoa and Ba Thuoc districts of the province of Than Hoa near the North Central Coast of Vietnam sits the Pu Luong Nature Reserve. It’s about 145 kilometres (90 miles) from the city of Hanoi which can be reached in about 4 to 5 hours. It’s also near the Cuc Phuong park which, at just 25 kilometres (about 15 miles), you can easily explore two famous destinations in Vietnam back to back.
The beautiful rice terraces make Pu Luong hard to exclude from the list of the best treks in Vietnam. The green terraces transmute into golden fields during autumn, which serves as a source of fascination for visitors. Hiking it will give you both joy and challenge with its fantastic views and elevation gains of up to 1700 meters (5577 feet).
- Best way to get there: a bus ride is the cheapest and best way to get to Pu Luong from Hanoi, which only costs around $50.
Mai Chau is a district of the province of Hoa Binh which is located in the northwestern parts of Vietnam. Its 135-kilometre (83 miles) distance south of Hanoi makes it just around 4 to 5 hours to travel. There are several caves worth exploring in this area. Not to mention the native stilt houses which make for a good Instagram post.
This mountainous region is also home to several ethnic groups so going on a hike here means you’ll both get to experience the local culture as well as the beauty of nature through Vietnam’s lenses.
- Best way to get there: taxi from Hanoi is the least hassling option, though the most costly. The next option is a bus ride which costs just around $12 to $14
- Level: easy to difficult
Cuc Phuong is located at the heart of the Nin Binh province of Vietnam. It’s one of the biggest national parks in the country. It sits 130 kilometres (around 80 miles) west of Hanoi and can be reached in about 3 to 4 hours.
Its dense rainforest is home to diverse creatures from the plant and animal kingdom. This alone makes Cuc Phuong one of the best hiking trails in Vietnam. Not to mention the limestone caves and the botanical garden which are just as fascinating.
- Best way to get there: the fastest mode of transportation that would take you from Hanoi to Cuc Phuong is a taxi or a bus ride.
- Cost: the entrance fee to be able to hike Cuc Phuong is just less than $2. Cheap, plus you get to contribute to the preservation of the park.
Central of Vietnam
Home to some of the best beaches in the country, Central Vietnam also has its share of hiking trails to conquer. Let’s learn more about where to hike in Vietnam’s central parts:
Situated just 35 kilometres (about 21 miles) from Da Nang, and can be reached in only 2 hours. It’s nested at the top of the Nul Chua mountain at the height of 1,489 meters (4885 feet). While it doesn’t provide much of a challenge to hikers, it is still one of the best treks in Vietnam you’ll ever take because of the beautiful views of its surroundings, plus it’s home to the world-famous Golden Hand Bridge.
It is also home to other fascinating attractions, such as the Le Jardin D’Amour Flower Garden where you can bask in the beauty of flowers and greens. The Linh Ung Pagoda that sits at the top of the mountains is another marvellous feature of Ba Na. The cable car ride also offers a magnificent view.
- Best way to get there: the best and the cheapest way to get there is via a motorbike from Da Nang. But if you don’t know how to drive, going for a bus ride is the next best thing
- Cost: the entry fee to Ba Na hills is around $33 for adults. Children will enjoy a discounted rate of $26
- Level: easy to difficult
Ke Go Nature Reserve
Ke Go Nature Reserve’s territory spans some parts of the districts of the Cam Xuyen, Thạch Ha, and Huong Khe in the Ha Tinh province. It is about 6-7 hours away from the city of Hue at a distance of 342 kilometres (about 202 miles). The reserve is also home to Ke Go Lake, the biggest man-made lake in Ha Tinh, and even its main tourist attraction.
The reserve was established to protect the dwindling species of Vietnamese and Imperial Pheasants. It has rich biodiversity; surrounded by verdant plant life and animals of different species, you’ll definitely enjoy nature while hiking its trails.
Also, you’ll get to enjoy activities such as fishing, camping, bird watching, and more. All these features make this place to be one of the best hiking spots in Vietnam.
- Best way to get there: the cheapest and most comfortable way to get to Ha Tinh is by bus
- Level: easy to medium
South of Vietnam
Southern Vietnam is most famous for the Mekong River and other natural wonders that make it an excellent destination for nature lovers. It also has some of the best treks in Vietnam.
Also known as the Da Lat Plateau, Lang Biang is situated in the Lac Duong district, about 10 kilometres (6 miles) from the Da Lat. It has three peaks so visitors will have a lot to explore and enjoy here. The Liang Biang Peak will give you the challenge you’re looking for. With an elevation gain of up to 2,169 meters (about 7116 feet) and a beautiful surrounding, Lang Biang is genuinely one of the best spots to go hiking in Vietnam.
- Best way to get there: The Russian Jeep is the fastest way to get to Lang Biang Peak. A round trip ticket only costs $13
- Cost: enjoying Lang Biang’s views won’t cost you a fortune. For just less than $1, its hiking trail is yours to conquer
- Level: medium to difficult
Kon Chu Rang Nature Reserve
Kon Chu Rang Nature Reserve is a vast forest near the Truong Son mountain range. Its territory spans from the province of Gia Lai to some parts of the Quang Ngai province. It’s 304 kilometres (188 miles) from the city of Nha Trang, and 350 kilometres (217 miles) from the town of Da Lat.
The reserve is where the three-story waterfall is located. In fact, it’s home to several waterfalls, so if you love nature photography, you’ll have lots of subjects to take, including its verdant surroundings. With challenging trails, this is one of the best hikes in Vietnam. Your tiring trek will be rewarded with captivating sights.
- Best way to get there: the cheapest transportation option is by bus. It only costs anywhere between $13 to $15 from Nha Trang
- Cost: at around $1, the entrance is very affordable
Cat Tien National Park
This park is one of the most significant nature reserves and also among the trails that offer the best hikes in Vietnam. It sits northwest of Ho Chi Minh city and the travel there can take up to 2 to 4 hours depending on your mode of transportation.
Aside from trekking, there are loads of other activities you can enjoy here, such as night safari and bird watching. You will also find variety of wildlife, another reason why you should trek its trails.
- Best way to get there: from Ho Chi Minh City, your best option is a bus ride. You’ll then have to transfer from the bus to a taxi or rent a motorbike going to the reserve or motorbike from Ho Chi Minh City for 2-3 hours
- Cost: the entrance fee is around $26. A bit costly, but the features you’ll get to experience here makes it worth the price
- Level: easy
Black Virgin Mountain
Locally known as Nui Be Den, this mountain sits in the Tay Ninh Province. It is about 2 hours from Ho Chi Minh City and 92 kilometres (about 57 miles) in the distance. The mountain is one of the best hiking spots in Vietnam because of the stunning scenery, exciting caves as well as historical Buddhist temples all for visitors to explore.
- Best way to get there: the best way to get to Black Virgin Mountain is to rent a motorbike from Ho Chi Minh. This will give you plenty of opportunities to enjoy your journey as much as you’ll enjoy your destination
- Cost: the entrance fee is just less than a buck, so in terms of the price, this spot is really one of the best hikes in Vietnam
ALSO READ: Best beaches in Vietnam
I hope you’ve found some good ideas for hiking trails in Vietnam. If you’re wondering what to wear while hiking, also read our guide to what to pack for your trip to Vietnam!