The best places to trek in Vietnam

Expedition: Trekking North Vietnam

360 Expeditions

While Hanoi’s history, Ho Chi Minh’s dynamism, Hue’s royal heritage and Hạ Long Bay’s sheer photogenic beauty put Vietnam on the tourist map, the country’s lesser-known rural reaches are becoming increasingly popular as a top trekking destination. Home to lush mountain ranges, tropical forests, epic rice terraces and a culturally diverse population, rural Vietnam guarantees a truly unique trekking experience. With this in mind, we put together a quick guide to the country’s best trekking spots.

Hà Giang Province

Hà Giang Province is undoubtedly Vietnam’s premier trekking destination. It remains relatively underappreciated and far less busy than the established trekking centre of Sa Pa. At the same time, it boasts phenomenal scenery and is home to a range of North Vietnam’s diverse tribal peoples, ensuring your treks are also fascinating cultural experiences. The country’s northernmost province, it is renowned for its forested mountainsides, spectacular caves and sculpted rice terraces. Within Hà Giang province, there are several excellent trekking locations you should consider visiting. The 360 Trekking North Vietnam expedition connects many of them.

Hoang Su Phi

Hoang Su Phi is home to some of the country’s most striking and ingenious rice terraces and is a wonderful place to explore on foot. If you can, time your visit for late September and early October, as it should coincide with the rice turning a spectacular golden hue.

Nam Hong and Nam Ai

Trekking between Nam Hong and Nam Ai offers visitors the opportunity to compare and contrast the varied cultures of Hà Giang Province. From the Man Ta Pan ethnic group to the Long Tunics Dao, the region is blessed with numerous communities, each boasting unique customs and traditions. We highly recommend trekking with a guide in these areas, as it ensures you enjoy a better understanding of local history and the differences between cultures.

Ban Luoc

Bun Luoc is arguably the best trekking destination for travellers looking for a cultural insight into Vietnam’s ethnic minorities and hill tribes. The local Tay, Nung and Dzao peoples are responsible for creating the staggering, stepped rice terraces you will encounter on all sides as you move through the region. These terraces are some of the highest in the country and the mountain terrain makes for a challenging but thoroughly enjoyable trekking experience. 

Sa Pa

Sa Pa is typically regarded as Vietnam’s trekking capital and has become a major stop on the tourist trail. It is easy to see why. The landscapes and rice paddies are beautiful and home to several hill tribe communities. That said, the area is second only to Ha Long Bay in popularity, resulting in a touristy experience, a lot of people on the trails and all of the things that accompany a significant influx of comparably wealthy foreigners. In our opinion, Hà Giang is a much more enjoyable destination. However, if you are set on Sa Pa, consider one of the two options below.

Mount Fansipan

At 3,147 metres, Mount Fansipan is Vietnam’s highest mountain – the summit is often referred to as the “Roof of Indochina”. While a cable car ensures you do not have to exert any energy to reach the summit, there are several trekking trails to enjoy. Guides are mandatory on Mount Fansipan and the trailheads are just a short ride from Sa Pa.

Bac Ha

If you are trekking in the Sa Pa region, make sure you head to Bac Ha market on a Sunday and experience the eruption of colour as people from around the region descend on the town to sell their wares. Approximately 100 km from Sa Pa, the market is also a viable option for those trekking in Hà Giang Province.

Central Highlands

The Central Highlands butt up against Cambodia and Laos and take visitors away from the well-trodden tourist trails that run up Vietnam’s coastline. Cooler and much less developed than other areas in the country, it is home to several fantastic trekking destinations.

Da Lat

Once a French resort town for colonial officials looking to escape the oppressive heat and humidity of the lowlands, Da Lat is now the country’s adventure capital. With its cooler temperatures, stepped, picture-perfect waterfalls and abundance of outdoor activities, including hiking, climbing and caving, it is a great base from which to lace up your boots and hit the trails.

Phong Nha Ke-Bang National Park

Acquiring UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2003, the Phong Nha Ke-Bang National Park is most famous for its extensive subterranean cave and river systems. Boasting more than 60 miles of underground network, it is a popular destination for trekkers who want to dive deeper into Vietnam’s natural history. The National Park is not exclusively for cavers, though. There is plenty of exquisite jungle terrain to explore, too.

An alternative to trekking

While Vietnam is a brilliant trekking destination and we would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a trekking experience that blends unparalleled natural beauty, cultural diversity and mouth-watering cuisine, you don’t have to limit yourself to two feet. If you want to see more of the country, you can also explore Vietnam’s southern reaches (and Cambodia’s incredible Angkor Wat temple complex) by bicycle. The 360 Expeditions Vietnam to Cambodia Cycle Experience takes you from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap via Tra Vinh, Can Tho, Chau Doc and Phnom Penh. It is a brilliant way to cover a little more ground and still enjoy an up-close and personal Vietnamese travel experience. Check out our guide to cycling in Vietnam for more information.

Trekking Vietnam with 360 Expeditions

At 360 Expeditions, we design our trekking experiences based on extensive experience, local expertise and a deep appreciation for the countries we operate in. In our opinion, Hà Giang Province is Vietnam’s most enjoyable and authentic trekking destination. Which is why we decided to situate our 360 Trekking North Vietnam Expedition in the region. We want all 360 trekkers to get a real feel for the place and the people they are visiting and Hà Giang Province provides exactly that. To learn more about the trek, head to the Trekking North Vietnam expedition page or contact the 360 team directly.

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