Trekking is an ideal way to enjoy and experience beautiful nature of Vietnam, from the yellow farmers' terraces in harvesting season of the north, to the off-the-beaten-path Central Highlands, or the frenetic activity of the Mekong Delta in the south. Your trekking adventure can include jungle trekking, mountain hiking, countryside hitch-hiking, walking, or rambling adventures.
Here are some of Vietnam's best trekking areas:
- Ha Giang — city in the northeast region, located on the banks of the Lô River. Its surroundings (and Ha Giang province in particular) impress visitors with their high karst plateaux, steep hills, winding roads and ethnic diversity. It is suited for outdoor activities such as trekking and camping. Ha Giang is the main city of Ha Giang province, which is in the far north of Vietnam and shares a long border with China.
- Mai Chau is 60 kilometers from Hoa Binh City. One of the interesting activities in Mai Chau for tourists is trekking through the mountainous villages of the northwest region. The houses on stilts in the villages are kept in their original form in structure, daily life activities, water system, rice mortar, bow and cross-bow, farming method, tradition and custom of the ethnic minorities. You can trek through rice fields, hear people playing gongs and talk to artisans.
- Cuc Phuong National Park is in Northern Vietnam, 40 km away from Ninh Binh city. It is Vietnam’s largest national park and one of the most important biodiversity sites in the country. It is home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna. The park can be visited from Hanoi as a day trip or visitors can stay at the park’s lodgings for a longer stay. Visiting the park is a terrific opportunity to get a close look at Vietnam’s nature. Fees generated from tourism help protect the parks wildlife and improve the local economy. The best time of the year to visit the park is during the dry season, from Nov-Feb. 120 km southwest of Hanoi on 22,200 hectares of rainforest, Cuc Phuong National Park is the centrepiece of Vietnam’s conservation efforts and one of the most accessible parks in the country. Vietnam’s first and largest national park, Cuc Phuong's beauty and a few of its thousands of species of plants and animals can be seen with the help of a park ranger. If you’re not interested in hiking up and down the karst mountains, a good alternative is the easy but rewarding trip to the primate and turtle rehabilitation and breeding centres.
- Bach Ma National Park, in Thua Thien Hue province, is a 22,000-hectare national park. Bach Ma is also the name given to the highest mountain in the park (1450 m). Bach Ma mountain is 18 km away from the coast. Within the park are ecotourist, forestry and science departments. There is also a community centre for the local communities who live in the park.
- Ban Sen is an island in Ha Long Bay. Thickly forested, the island is sparsely inhabited and is probably not a viable destination for anything except quick part-day visits. There are basically no roads on the island, so your options are either trekking or circumnavigation by water vessel.
- Sa Pa (formerly Chapa) is a town in a beautiful, mountainous region of Northern Vietnam on the border with China. At 1,650 m above sea level in Vietnam's remote northwest mountains, Sa Pa is known for both its fine, rugged scenery and its cultural diversity. Sa Pa is a picturesque town in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range near the Chinese border in northwestern Vietnam, known as "the Tonkinese Alps". Sa Pa and its surrounding region is host to many hill tribes, rice terraces, lush vegetation, and Phan Si Păng (Fansipan), the highest peak in Indochina (Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam). Other great mountains like Aurora & J, where Sa Pa sees the first rays of sun, make up a very steep valley. Sa Pa has become a tourist hotspot where money is the new drug of choice. Throngs of vendors can be found in the streets, aggressively selling their wares. Don't be put off by the rush, your explorations of the surrounding countryside will be worth the trouble. Although the new cable car and the host of large hotels being built with apparent disregard for the mountain environment have perhaps reduced the charm of Sa Pa, a short walk or drive will still reward the traveller with unspoiled views.
- Ba Be National Park is in Bắc Kạn Province, Northern Vietnam. Spring and winter are the best times to visit Ba Be Lake. The weather is pleasant come August and September but it's by far the most crowded season for the park. Ba Be Lake is in the centre of Ba Be National Park, where visitors are attracted not only by the natural beauty but also by diversity of culture. Trekking in the natural world of Ba Be National Park is the best way to really get to know a country region, because you are walking on trails that locals have travelled for years, to go to market, terraced fields, to breed their livestock and to visit their relatives. Only in this way can you gain an insight into the lives of these resilient resourceful villagers. With this new trail, you will travel through more remote areas of the Ba Be National Park, experience true jungle, sublime mountain views and idyllic villages of the Tay, the Dao and the Hmong Flower people. You really do go to places that others can't reach because it is a new attraction in the Northeast of Vietnam. So less touristy and more authentic experience.
- Phong Nha-Ke Bang is a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Quảng Bình Province, in the north of the Central Coast region. The park is 50 km north of Dong Hoi, around 450 km south of Hanoi. The core zone of this national park covers 857.54 km² and a buffer zone of 1,954 km². The park was created to protect one of the world's two largest karst regions with 300 caves and grottoes and also protects the ecosystem of limestone forest of the Annamite Range region in north central coast of Vietnam. The plateau on which the park is perched is probably one of the finest and most distinctive examples of a complex karst landform in Southeast Asia. This national park was listed in UNESCO's World Heritage Sites in 2003. In April 2009, the world's largest cave, Son Doong Cave, was discovered by a team of British cave explorers of British Caving Association. Tourist activities in this park includes expedition of caves and grottoes in boats, eco-tourism, discovering the flora and fauna in this park and mountain climbing, trekking. Phong Nha town is on the edge of the park just off the main highway, and has undergone some growth since the caves were discovered. Most accommodation, restaurants and travel providers are in the town, although there are some good places in the surrounding villages - where the tradeoff is the peace and quiet!
- Con Dao is an island off the southern coast. Con Dao served as a prison island for political prisoners during the French colonial era, when it was known as Poulo Condore, and in later years the Saigon regime imprisoned opponents of the regime in the infamous cells known as the "tiger cages". The old prison buildings are still standing and are open to the public as is a small museum tracing the island's history. Besides having an interesting history, Con Dao is also an island of immense natural beauty with forested hills, deserted sandy beaches and extensive coral reefs making for some excellent diving. Con Dao is a shining example of good conservation. 80% of the land area of the archipelago is a national park offering primary jungle teeming with interesting life such as the endemic black squirrel and the crab eating macaque. Beautiful beaches and hidden lagoons are also to be found here, with very few tourists. Con Dao is a paradise off the beaten track. For now at least. Most of the surrounding seas are a "no-take" marine protected area (MPA). The level of protection and care shown to this island is evident in the pristine reefs that surround it, home to a large variety of marine life not found anywhere else in Vietnam.
- Quy Nhơn, the capital of Bình Định province on the coast of central Vietnam, is a city long dismissed by Vietnamese and foreign travellers as no more than a convenient overnight stop halfway between the old-world architecture of Hội An and the booming resorts of Nha Trang. But for those in the know, that disregard is precisely what makes Quy Nhơn the rarest of gems: a beach city in Southeast Asia unspoiled by the ravages of mass tourism. With little traffic, no international chains, and a siesta time that sees most businesses close for a few hours every afternoon, this city of 300,000 people has a sleepy, small-town charm which stands in stark contrast to the commercialism and development of other Vietnamese cities.
- Phú Quốc (pronounced fú-wóg) is a large tropical island off the coast of Cambodia. It is only accessible from Vietnam. Phú Quôc is a mountainous and densely forested island of 1320 km². It is 48 km in length from south to north and has a population of approximately 180,000 people (2020). In the Gulf of Thailand 45 km west of Ha Tien on the Vietnamese mainland and 15 km south of the coast of Cambodia, Phú Quốc is ringed with some of most beautiful beaches in Vietnam, although by 2020, much of it had been developed for mass tourism, and there were large construction projects underway.
- Cat Tien National Park is in the Southern region. It lies between Ho Chi Minh City and Dalat just north of highway 20. Cat Tien National Park consists of two separate segments: Cat Loc to the north and Nam Cat Tien, the eastern half of which is most often visited and contains the Park headquarters. The park has an area of about 720 km² is located in three provinces: Dong Nai, Lam Dong and Binh Phuoc: approximately 150 km north-east of Ho Chi Minh City. It is one of Vietnam's most important and largest National Parks with now rare lowland woodland, containing areas of old-growth (primary) forest. To add to its conservation value, in the south-west it is contiguous with the Dong Nai Culture and Nature Reserve to the south-west.