Coming to Vietnam, there are many things to do and many places to explore. We have serene and bustling cities alike for those who either want to join in the energetic flow of the city or just want to immerse in the spirit of the place. We are blessed with beautiful rivers accompanied by friendly locals and the famous floating market. We also have various gorgeous beaches, filled with a variety of entertainments, perfect for a sun-filled vacation. Now, if you are an avid mountain climber or a hiker, Vietnam also has the perfect treats for you. Vietnam has no short of mighty mountains for everyone to enjoy. For people who are interested in mountaineering or just want to sightsee some amazing mountains, here is our list of Vietnam mountains that is definitely worth your time.
Vietnam is a tropical country, with many mountainous areas, plateaus, plus dense forests. Civilization centers around plains but most of Vietnam's landmass is actually mountains. There aren't a lot of high mountains in Vietnam for mountains above 2,000m only account for 1% of the whole country landmass. Most high mountains center around the Northwest region (The Hoang Lien Son Range). Going from Northwest down to Southeast, the height of the mountains start to descend. The mountainous regions are divided into the Northwest region (in the North, near the Lao border), the Northeast region (also in the North, near the China border), the North Truong Son region (in Central Vietnam), the South Truong Son region (in Central Vietnam and the area where Central Vietnam and Southern Vietnam meet). The mountainous regions are also home to many ethnic minorities in Vietnam.
How fitting it is for the highest mountain in Vietnam to be on the top of the list. Fansipan stands at an impressive 3,134m in height. Fansipan is not only the highest mountain in Vietnam but also is the highest mountain in the Indochina region, earning itself the nickname "Rooftop of Indochina’’. The local name for Fansipan is "Hua Xi Pan’’. It means “giant unstable rock”. Fansipan is part of the Hoang Lien Son Range in the Northwest of Vietnam. It is adjacent to Lao Cai and Lai Chau province, 9 kilometers west of Sapa.
The spectacular view of Fansipan
It is advised to stay off climbing the Fansipan during the rainy season. Slippery roads, heavy fog, and enhanced coldness will make your journey harder. The fog will also obscure Fansipan majestic nature views, further diminish your enjoyment. So the best time of the year to climb the Fansipan is between October and April, especially in October and November, in which the rainy season just ends or February and March, which is before the rainy season.
Fansipan is among the higher difficulty of Vietnam mountains to conquer, so make sure that you are physically fit. Normally it takes 2 to 3 days to complete a trek. A guide can be found at local hotels and tour agencies in Sapa if you request one. To get to Fansipan, from the starting point in Hanoi, you can ride either the overnight train or the bus to Lao Cai. Then, you will need to take a car ride to get to Sapa. Finally, one more ride from Sapa to where you can begin your journey.
At the top of Fansipan
Before you start any trekking, a permit has to be obtained from the Hoang Lien Center for Ecotourism and Environmental Education and a fee of VND 150,000 has to be paid. On a typical 2 days trek, you will start in the morning then reach a resting camp point at 2,700m around the afternoon. You will have dinner and spend the night at this camp point. In the early morning of the next day, you will then depart for the summit. After taking pictures, enjoying the scenery, you can choose to walk back down or take the cable car.
View from the cable car
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In 2016, to make conquering the Fansipan summit achievable for just anyone, a massive cable car system was conceived. It holds the Guinness World Record of the longest non-stop three-rope cable car in the world (6,292.5m) and the greatest elevation difference by a non-stop three-roped cable car (1,410m). The cable car is located in the Fansipan Legend resort complex. Ticket being VND 700,000 for adults, VND 500,000 for children from 1m to 1,3m tall and free for children under 1m. The cable car will reduce your journey to just 15 minutes of riding and around 600 extra steps to reach the summit. For aspiring climbers, please prepare the necessities before challenging the Fansipan on foot, ranging from trail shoes to hiking sticks, gloves, scarf, blankets, tents, foods, water, camera, and chargers.
More on hiking and trekking in Vietnam
For the second mountain of Vietnam mountains on this list, it will also be the second-highest mountain in Vietnam. Standing at 3,049m in height, Pu Ta Leng too belongs to the Hoang Lien Son Range. This is one mountain for the brave explorers, for the individuals who love a test and revel in the unfamiliar destination that isn't on the traveler radar. Situated in the Lai Chau Region, Pu Ta Leng is famous for its housing of the most beautiful rhododendron simsii flowers in the region. The scenery of Pu Ta Leng is certainly special, green and lush, thanks to the weather and the soil.
To get to Pu Ta Leng, you can go from Hanoi straight to Ta Leng Village (where the mountain stands) by motorcoach or from Hanoi to Sapa by motorcoach and then from Sapa to Ta Leng by car or motorcycle. A guide would be needed for this journey, and you can find one locally. You should prepare for this trek with the same necessities as for Fansipan. The trail will seem easy at first but it will get progressively harder due to the steep forest. Put up with this challenge and you will get rewarded with the magnificent view of the Hoang Lien Son Range and the fields below. Accompanying your arduous trek will also be the soothing, musical like the sound of the many pristine small streams.
A stream at Pu Ta Leng
The full journey is around 3 days. The first day you will hike until you reach the resting camp point at around 2,400m. The second day, departing from the camp point, you will head for the summit. After spending some fun time at the summit, you will move back to the 2,400m point then further descending down to the 1,800m point to set up a camp and spend another night there. The last day will be spent walking the long way back, remember to check your belongings and there is no cable car here.
Let’s take a break from the height theme and talk about a mountain of historical and cultural significance. One of Yen Tu old name was Bach Van Son (White Cloud Mountain) due to its cloudy atmosphere. In October of 1299 (Lunar calendar), the Vietnamese Hero King Tran Nhan Tong after abdicating, moved to Yen Tu Mountain to practice Buddhism. He combined the existing Thien (Zen) sects in Vietnam at that time to create Vietnam only indigenous Thien sect "Thien Phai Truc Lam’’ or "Truc Lam Yen Tu’’. He also had many pagodas and temples built on this mountain. From then on, Yen Tu Mountain became the Ancestral Land of Vietnam Buddhism.
Bird’s-eye view of Truc Lam Yen Tu Buddhist Zen Monastery
The summit of Yen Tu is in the area belonging to Quang Ninh district. You can easily access the base of Yen Tu Mountain by bus, motor coach or motorcycle. With the height of 1,068m, trekking Yen Tu is a relatively easy task (entrance fee is VND 40,000/adult and VND 20,000/child). Being a religious ground, you can treat your journey to the top as sort of a pilgrimage. The trail to the summit is around 6km long, well-paved with stone steps, surrounded by bamboo trees and pine trees. An element of mysticism and inner peace is evoked through the peaceful greenery.
The Dong Pagoda completely made out of bronze
The journey starts at Giai Oan Stream (Exoneration Stream), a place built to appeal the spirits of Tran Nhan Tong grieving concubines when he chose to become a monk. There is a bridge to cross this stream. Next up is the Hue Quang Tower Garden where part of Tran Nhan Tong relic is kept. Walk some more and you can spot Hoa Yen Pagoda, which is the largest temple in the whole Complex of Yen Tu Monuments and Landscape. Finally at the summit of the Yen Tu is the Dong Pagoda (Bronze Pagoda). And that is just a fraction of what is available on Yen Tu. There is a cable car system here (VND 200,000/person straight from the foot to Dong Pagoda and VND 280,000/person with one mid-way stop at Hoa Yen Pagoda). But if grandmas can walk all the way to the summit to show their sincerity to the Buddha, so can you. Read our detailed guide on the Pilgrimage to Yen Tu Mountain and Where to Stay at Yen Tu Mountain.
Read more about this on the UNESCO site.
Another one of many Vietnam mountains to notice is Ba Den Mountain. At 986m, Ba Den Mountain is the highest mountain in the South of Vietnam. With various pagodas, Ba Den Mountain is also a pilgrimage site for the religious folks. There are 3 legends about this mountain. The more popular one being that the Black Virgin is the daughter of a Nguyen Dynasty official. She fell in love with a man who saved her from thugs when she was on her way to the mountain pagoda. Before their marriage could take part, he was conscripted. At home, she was again attacked by thugs. Desperate to protect her virginity, the Black Virgin jumped down from the mountain. She later appeared in a dream of a monk from the pagoda. In his dream, she took on the form of a black maiden. The monk then went to find her body and gave her a proper burial.
The pagoda bustling with visitors
The pagoda associated with that legend is the Linh Son Tien Thach Pagoda or simply Ba Den Pagoda. This pagoda was built 300 years ago but sadly was heavily damaged during the war. In 1997, the pagoda was renovated. There are 2 stone pillars from 1919, engraved with an image of the mythical creature - dragon, which survived to this day. Aside from the various pagodas, there are many caves in this area as well.
Mountain slide and cable car
Ba Den Mountain is approximately 100km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City and 10km Northeast of Tay Ninh City, any kind transportation would do. Now, the easy way first is to take the cable car. A two-way ticket is VND 160,000 for adult, VND 90,000 for children from 0,9m to 1,2m tall and free for children below that. The same price applies for the mountain slide, which is both a fun way to travel through the mountain and a fun activity to do while you are there. But if you are into trekking, just follow the well-established routes. It takes 3 to 4 hours to reach the summit.
12km north of Dalat City, situated at Lac Duong Town, Lac Duong District, Lam Dong Province is the Lang Biang Mountain. The namesake of this mountain came from a legend. The story is basically Romeo and Juliet of the ethnic minorities here. K’Lang and H’biang were a couple from two different tribes. It was forbidden for people from different tribes to marry each other. Despite that, with their passionate love, they ran away to have a future together. Then, of course, tragedy came. They died together in each other’s arms. The tribes having witnessed the couple's death saw fault in their way, so they united as one tribe.
Statues depicting the star-crossed lovers
Entering Lang Biang Mountain base, an entrance fee of VND 30,000 has to be paid. Lang Biang Mountain has 2 peaks, the tallest peak is 2,167m high. To reach the summit, there are 3 options to take. The first one is to take the jeep. With the jeep, it takes 15 minutes to reach the summit. The price being VND 360,000 each jeep, divided by each passenger, a maximum of 6 people per jeep, so with 6 passengers, the price will be VND 60,000. On foggy seasons, you can really marvel at the skill of the drives as they drive so smoothly through the curvy mountain pass on a speed that cannot be described as slow. The second option is by motorcycle or car. You can take the same road as the jeep. Though it is not advisable for the inexperienced drivers, the curves on the mountain pass can be really dangerous. And of course, you can take the option of walking.
The jeep they use to drive up to Liang Biang
You should trek Lang Biang in Spring, just in time for the cherry blossom to bloom. You can choose to walk along the mountain pass to avoid getting lost or trek through the woods. The exotic fauna, the refreshing atmosphere and stunning scenery of the woods can make it worthwhile to dabble in it. On the way to the top, at 1929m, you can pass by Radar Hill – an old American Military Base. The way from then on to the summit is steeper but well-paved, posted with many signs to keep you well-informed. It will take around 3 to 4 hours to complete the whole journey. The reward will be the magnificent view of Dalat below from the Lang Biang's peak. While you are at it, treat yourself to some ice cream sold at restaurants here to further feel the chill.
At Langbiang's summit
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There are many more Vietnam mountains waiting for you to discover. For us to exhaust them all would probably be as arduous as a trek itself. Go ahead and comment below if you want to read about a mountain that is not on this humble list. And it is important to remember that if you are planning on taking on a trek or hike, please prepare all the necessities, all the gears check up on your health and find some partners if possible.
If you decide to hike and camp at one of these mountains, check out these tips on camping around bears.
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