Looking for a healthy and adventurous activity to do in Vietnam? Let’s head to a hiking trail to get some fresh air, burn calories, escape the loud city noise, and explore the outdoors! Whether you’re traveling or living in North, Central, or South Vietnam, there are plenty of day hikes and longer trekking routes for you to experience.
Not sure where to go hiking in Vietnam? It’s not a problem!
In this post, we’re sharing the 7 best hikes in Vietnam including day and multi-day hikes, where they’re located, and important information about the trails such as admission cost and difficulty levels.
Although this isn’t a comprehensive list of all the hiking trails in the country, these are the trails that we’ve personally visited after spending over 3+ years living in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Therefore, you’re getting an insider view of what to expect with these hikes. As a heads up, some of the hiking and trekking trails require a tour guide due to safety and the remoteness of the trail location.
If hiking isn’t enough to visit this country, check out other fantastic reasons to travel to Vietnam.
Now, let’s go hiking and explore a unique side of Vietnam.
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What to Bring On Your Vietnam Hikes
Before you head out on a Vietnam hiking trail, you need to do some preparation. Here are some helpful tips and important gear that you’ll need for a hike.
- Use a backpack to hold your important stuff. If your backpack has shoulders and hip belts, it’ll help shift the weight of your backpack when you’ve been hiking for hours. Our favorite backpacks are here: men and women versions.
- Stay hydrated and bring a reusable water bottle. Many of the trails are in remote places, so there aren’t any convenience stores to purchase water. Continue to drink lots of water on the trail and use a reusable water bottle to lessen plastic waste.
- Wear proper hiking boots. Some of the trails require hiking boots due to the changes in terrain. By having the proper footwear, you can walk for hours comfortably. It wouldn’t be fun to receive hot spots or blisters! We love these hiking boots (women’s version).
- Wear a hat and sunscreen. It can get brutally hot in the sun, so it’s necessary to wear a hat and sunscreen.
- Hiking poles are optional. If you have knee issues or will climb a steep mountain, hiking poles will be helpful.
- Bring your trash home and leave no trace behind. Let’s continue to keep Vietnam’s mountains clean for future generations. Bring all trash with you.
Map of Where to Go Hiking in Vietnam
Hiking in North Vietnam
Northern Vietnam has some of the best hiking due to its mountainous range. Head to Hanoi and start your hiking and trekking adventure from there.
1. Mount Fansipan
Location: Hoang Lien National Park, Sapa
Distance: 14 miles (22.5 kilometers) round trip | Duration: 1 or 2 days | Difficulty: Challenging
At the highest peak in Vietnam at 3,143 meters (10,312 feet), Mount Fansipan (Phan Xi Păng in Vietnamese) is one of the toughest hikes in Vietnam to conquer. The summit is known as the “Roof of Indochina” since it’s the tallest peak in Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia).
To get to the summit, most hikers take the Tram Tom route. You can’t miss the start since you’ll need to register at the Ranger’s station before hiking. Once you start hiking, you walk through the forest area with trees, running streams, and wildflowers blooming around you. The trail requires some scrambling up huge boulders and stairways so you’ll need to be in physical strength.
Once you’re at the top, you can explore the newly branded Sun World’s Fansipan Legend. The must-visit spot is to take a photo with the Fansipan 3,143 meters signs. You have to show off your accomplishments! There are also temples, Buddha statues, and other fun attractions to visit.
Climb Fansipan in 1 day is for the true hardcore hikers and will be challenging. It’ll take 6-12+ hours to complete depending on the speed and number of rest breaks. The more leisure route is to take 2 days with an overnight stay at a camping site or indoor shelter. Or, you can hike up one way and take the cable car down, although, you will pay for a round-trip cable car ticket.
Hiring a tour guide is necessary. There are many spots along the trail where you can veer off and get lost. Plus, the tour guide can help with registering you at the Ranger’s Station. We used Zaazaa Trekking for our tour.
How to Get There: Your Fansipan tour will include taxi transportation to the Tram Tom starting spot where the Ranger station is located. Find “Núi Xẻ Ranger Station Trạm Tôn” in Google Maps.
Admission Cost: A Fansipan trekking tour will vary depending on whether it’s a 1 or 2 day trip. For 1 day, expect to pay $60-$80 USD per person. (The Sapa treks are quoted in US Dollars and paid in Vietnamese currency).
2. Muong Hoa Valley’s Lao Chai and Ta Van Village
Distance: 6–7 miles (9.6-11 kilometers) per day | Duration: 1 or 2 Days | Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Sapa, located in the Lao Cai Province, is a beautiful place to hike in Vietnam. Many trekkers flock to this area to see the golden rice terraces and wander through the ethnic minority villages where the Hmong, Dao, Xa Pho, Tay, and Day people live. Since there are many hiking routes to experience in Sapa, Muong Hoa Valley’s Lao Chai and Ta Van Valley is a fantastic trek in Vietnam for beginners.
The trek is mostly flat with some inclines up a hill. The technical parts are going down a muddy, slippery path through the rice terraces and forest areas. Otherwise, many parts of the trail are along a paved path.
Depending on how much time you have in Sapa, you can visit Lao Chai and Ta Van from Sapa as a day trip or over two days. We hiked for two days to have more time to wander through the villages and not feel rushed trying to finish in one day. One of the main highlights was the opportunity to stay overnight and have dinner with the local family at a homestay.
A trekking guide is necessary to help navigate through the area and we used Zaazaa Trekking (as mentioned above for Fansipan).
Other popular areas to trek are Cat Cat Village to Y Linh Ho, Sa Sen to Hau Thao, and Ma Tra to Ta Phin Village.
How to Get There: From Sapa town, your guide will lead you to the villages.
Admission: The average cost for a 2-day tour is $60 per person.
Related: How to travel from Hanoi to Sapa
Hiking in Central Vietnam
Central Vietnam is known for the coastal beaches and relaxation, yet there are some incredible hikes to conquer.
3. Hang En Cave
Location: Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, Phong Nha
Distance: 5.5-6.5 miles (3.4-6.5 kilometers) per day + caving on the second day | Duration: 2 Days | Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Phong Nha is the “Adventure Capital of the World” and is known to have hundreds of limestone caves to explore. One of the best caves to visit is Hang En Cave (Hang Én), located in the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park. It’s famous for being the world’s third-largest cave, while its big sister, Son Doong (Sơn Đoòng), which is only 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) from Hang En, is the world’s largest cave.
This 2-day trekking tour, offered by Oxalis Adventures, takes you through the forest area of the National Park and through a small village to get to this hidden cave. Oxalis is the only tour agency that has access to this cave so you and your small group (up to 16 people) have the whole cave to yourself.
The out-and-back hiking trail is great for beginners as you can take as much time as needed to hike. There are plenty of breaks during the hike. Plus, there are at least two guides and two Support Team members to assist trekkers with sketchy downhill areas or crossing rushing rivers.
Once you get to the off the beaten path cave, you’ll see how massive this cave is. You’ll see how long the cave stretches on your second day during the caving exploration.
A cool and memorable experience about this Hang En trek is that you get to sleep overnight in the cave and may get the chance to see a gorgeous sunbeam enter the cave in the morning.
How to Get There: All hikers will meet at the Oxalis Headquarters in Phong Nha town and will take a bus to the start of the trek.
Admission Cost: The tour costs 7,600,000 VND ($330) per person.
Hiking in South Vietnam
Many of the hikes in South Vietnam require some mode of transportation whether you’re based in Ho Chi Minh City or Dalat. Regardless, the consistent weather throughout the year makes it an awesome opportunity to explore the trails.
4. Dinh Mountain
Location: Close to Vung Tau, Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province
Distance: 4-8+ miles (6.4-12.8 kilometers) | Duration: 3-5+ hours | Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Dinh Mountain (Núi Dinh) is a popular day hike from Ho Chi Minh City and close to the beach area, Vung Tau. Many trail runners and hikers travel around the mountain to get to the summit at 460 meters (1,500 feet high). The summit doesn’t have a summit sign, yet it’s on a giant rock where you’re rewarded with a panoramic view of the Vung Tau area.
The hiking isn’t too difficult yet there are some hills to climb. Luckily, the trail is mostly shaded so you can take your time going up the mountain. Hikers can make a loop around the mountain or do an out-and-back route to the summit.
Unfortunately, the trail doesn’t have good signage, yet there are red, yellow, and blue markers to follow. Otherwise, it’s recommended to bring a friend who knows the route. Along the way, you’ll pass by a few temples and locals living in the area.
Depending on your time of visit, Dinh Mountain has several waterfalls for you to swim in. The rainy season from April to October and there will be larger cascades. Life jackets are available for safety.
How to Get to There: Take a motorbike or hire a driver to different parking lots:
- “Suối Ðá” or “G49C+C6 Tân Hải, Bà Rịa–Vũng Tàu, Tân Thành, Ba Ria – Vung Tau, Vietnam,” or
- Đường Xe Lên Núi Dinh, Kim Dinh, Tân Thành, Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu, Vietnam” (the main parking lot)
You can find these in Google Maps for the exact pinpoint. From Ho Chi Minh City, it’ll take at least 2 hours one-way. From Vung Tau, it’ll take 25 minutes one-way.
Admission Cost: Free. There is a small fee for parking and to go to the waterfalls.
5. Chua Chan Mountain
Location: Xuan Loc District, Dong Nai Province
Distance: 4.6 miles (7.5 kilometers) | Duration: 3+ hours | Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Chua Chan Mountain (Núi Chứa Chan) is a unique day hike in South Vietnam to experience. Located in Dong Nai Province, a 2-hour drive outside of Ho Chi Minh City, it’s an opportunity to climb 837 meters high (2,746 feet) to reach the peak.
The out-and-back hiking path is easy to follow so a tour guide isn’t necessary. The first half of the hike is a leg burner as you climb up a paved set of stairs. This path is covered so it’ll shield you from the mid-morning sunshine. Along the way, you’ll pass by vendors selling foods and snacks as offerings to the pagodas. Try fried banana chips as an energy-boosting snack. Or, you can stop by one of the shops for a snack break such as bánh xèo (Vietnamese sizzling pancakes).
Once you pass the pagoda, follow the dirt path to go to the summit. This part is a bit more challenging due to the incline, but it’s not technical.
At the summit, take a photo with the triangle summit sign. On a clear day, you’ll see the landscape views of the Dong Nai area.
If you don’t want to head back down the mountain, you can take a cable car from the pagoda area to the bottom of the hill. Since you’re already heading down, you might as well finish walking down the paved set of stairs!
How to Get to There: Take a motorbike or hire a driver to go to “Khu Du Lịch Cáp Treo Núi Chứa Chan, Xuân Trường, Xuân Lộc, Đồng Nai, Vietnam” in Google Maps. From Ho Chi Minh City, it’ll take at least 2 hours to get to the parking lot. You can also take a local bus from Ho Chi Minh City.
Admission Cost: 14,000 VND ($.60 USD) for adults, 6,000 VND ($.26 USD) for children ages 6-15 years
6. Cat Tien National Park
Location: Nam Cat Tien, Dong Nai Province
Distance: Varies | Duration: 1 or 2 Days | Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Cat Tien National Park (Vườn Quốc Gia Cát Tiên) is a perfect place to go on a nature hike from Ho Chi Minh City or Dalat. It’s a quiet National Park and surrounded by wildlife and trees. You can’t go wrong with wandering around the walking paths to see where you end up.
There are two hiking trails to try at Cat Tien National Park –
1. Hike through the forest area to see the giant Tung Trees and Uncle Dong redwood tree. It’s about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) away from the Visitor Center. The trail is easy to do since it’s very flat and isn’t technical. Therefore, a tour guide isn’t necessary for this walk. As long as you follow the walking path, you can’t get lost. As a heads up, there are lots of overgrown plants along the trail.
2. Hike to Crocodile Lake which is 17 miles (28 kilometers) round trip. To get to Crocodile Lake, you’ll need to take a car or bicycle to the starting point which is 5.6 miles (9 kilometers) away from the Visitor Center, and then you walk an additional 3.2 miles (5 kilometers) to reach the lake. If you don’t want to do this entire route in one day, you can stay overnight at the Ranger’s Station with advance notice. Tours are arranged through the National Park.
How to Get There: Ride a motorbike or hire a driver to go to Cat Tien. Local buses are also available from Ho Chi Minh City. Allocate a minimum of 3.5-4 hours to get to the park from Ho Chi Minh City.
Admission Cost: If you hike through the forest area, it’s included in the National Park fee. It is 60,000 VND ($2.60) for adults and 10,000 VND ($.43) for children ages 6-16 years. The Crocodile Lake tour is 140,000 VND ($6.10).
7. Bidoup Nui Ba National Park
Location: Lac Duong District, Lam Dong Province
Distance: 17.3 miles (28 kilometers) round-trip | Duration: 2 Days | Difficulty: Moderate-Challenging
Bidoup Nui Ba National Park (Vườn quốc gia Bidoup Núi Bà) is rarely mentioned as a hiking trail in Vietnam to experience. Due to its remote location, it’s not as popular compared to the Lang Biang Mountain in the Dalat’s Central Highlands area.
If you get the chance to check out Bidoup, we recommend it! The National Park is quiet and rarely has visitors. You get the chance to walk through the forest without any disturbance and reach the summit at 2,287 meters (7,503 feet). Unfortunately, the summit doesn’t have the photogenic panoramic views of the area as it’s in the middle of the forest. However, you get to take a photo with the triangle-shaped summit sign.
The hiking is more challenging than other hikes in South Vietnam, which is why you need to join a tour group for 2 days with 1 night at a campsite. We did the tour with Tổ Ong Adventure and had a support team with guides, chefs, and porters.
After visiting Bidoup Nui Ba National Park, spend at least 3 days hanging out in Dalat.
How to Get There: Head to Dalat from your departure city. Your tour company will take you to the starting point from Dalat.
Admission Cost: The tour starts at 3,290,000 VND ($143) per person.
We hope you consider going on one or more of these best hiking trails in Vietnam and feel more prepared to climb these mountains. We’ll continue to add to this list when we go on more trekking adventures.
If you have any questions about any of these hikes, ask a question in the comment box below.
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