Is Vietnam a good destination for trekking?

Vietnam is an often overlooked Asian destination when it comes to trekking. While many travellers have heard about Hanoi, Saigon and other major cities or know about the country’s beautiful beach destinations, other countries (such as Thailand) are better known for their trekking industry. But Vietnam has a lot to offer to trekkers, as well as those looking for shorter, less strenuous walks or walking tours. In fact, the fact that treks, while popular, are not as widely advertised in Vietnam as they are in other south-east Asian countries, can work in your favour when looking for a unique experience less spoiled by tourism. You can certainly go off the beaten track and find some interesting places, as well as enjoy all kinds of fun outdoor activities as part of your trek. Whether you’re an independent traveller or backpacker looking to work in some trekking into your trip or a dedicated trekker looking for a particular trek or tour, you’ll be able to go on some great adventures in Vietnam. The following information should give you an overview of what to expect when looking for treks in the country. Hopefully it should help you make an informed decision about where and how to go.

National Parks

Vietnam has an amazing array of beautiful national parks, perfect for walking, hiking and enjoying nature. Whether you’re interested in mountains, lakes or tropical lowlands, the country has a lot to offer when it comes to enjoying its flora and fauna. From bird watching to tracking elusive endangered mammals such as golden-headed langurs, Vietnam offers some amazing opportunities for wildlife watching. Eexperience Ba Ne national park with its lakes and mountains, or the Cat Tien national park with its great bird watching opportunities, among many others – you’ll basically be spoiled for choice. Treks in the parks can involve hiking, as well as mountain biking and other activities such as boating or kayaking. They also often provide a great opportunity to discover local tribal culture, with many tribal villages being within the grounds of such parks. History buffs will also enjoy historical site peppered throughout some of the parks.

Beach Hikes

If you’re looking for less physically demanding walks, Vietnam’s beaches often provide opportunities for fun, easy walks that can take an hour or two at most. The country has some beautiful beaches that are often far quieter than the more popular Thai beach resorts. In fact, many beaches are almost empty and pristine, so you can explore them without hardly seeing anyone. They offer the perfect opportunity to take a break from working on your tan by taking a gentle stroll. This is the perfect option for those looking mostly to relax while enjoying the coastal countryside. Perfect when you’ve been exploring Hanoi and need a chilled, yet still somewhat active break from it all.

Northern Vietnam

Considered the best for serious trekking, this part of Vietnam offers some stunning mountain terrain with very rewarding views for those accustomed to hill walking. You can even explore Vietnam’s highest mountain if you’re feeling particularly brave, but there are plenty of opportunities for slightly easier, yet just as scenic treks, taking in paddy fields, mountains and the full glory of local nature.

Alone or as part of a tour?

There are definitely advantages to joining one of the many vietnam trekking tours on offer. While travelling independently affords freedom and isolation for those who seek such things, there’s much to be said for having a trek planned from start to finish, especially if you want to also enjoy other activities such as biking, kayaking, etc., which require prior booking. It’s also worth noting that any treks involving time in national parks may need careful planning and advance bookings, because some parks limit the number of visitors at any given time. Tour companies can obviously do all that for you, saving you time, hassle, confusion and disappointment. Unless you’re an experienced trekker with sound knowledge of navigation, terrain and dealing with emergencies, you may find some of the more serious treks in Vietnam a challenge without the help of a knowledgeable local guide. Joining a small existing group with an experience guide or leader is probably the safest bet if you want to just enjoy your trek without worrying about getting lost or injuring yourself by taking a wrong step at the wrong time. Of course, if you’re only after a few short nature walks during your trip, you can get away with just checking out a local map, asking some questions or reading a travel guide before heading off on your stroll.  Anything more involved may well be improved by planning ahead and booking yourself on a guided walk, walking tour or a guided trek with a reputable local or international tour company.  Whichever way you choose to go, Vietnam is definitely a wonderful destination for trekking.