Some parts of Sapa are well-trodden, but many villages and routes still offer vast wilderness and untamed corners. A 10-day adventure takes in an impressive array of Sapa’s challenges and pleasures. Start with a warm-up walk to Muong Hum Commune, then explore deeper into more indigenous communities such as those of the White Hmong, Dao and Giay. On this trek you’ll wind through some fabulous valleys, mountain peaks with spectacular views and crystal clear streams. A walk to Nam Pung Village is followed by six days of uphill and downhill walks that include the most remote villages, imbued with Sapa’s tribal history. The highlight for many travellers is the homestay, where you can explore the local culinary and cultural traditions.
A 10-day guided trip with Exo Travel runs all year around upon request, and includes airport transfers from Hanoi.
Four days is all it takes to complete one of the finest hill tribe treks in Vietnam. An unmissable stop is Vietnam’s largest waterfalls, which is also one of the most majestic cascades in Southeast Asia — Ban Gioc Waterfall. The trek takes you past a series of tribal villages of the Tay, Hmong, Nung and Red Dao people, before heading to Pac Bo village. There lies Coc Bo Cave, famed for its involvement in the revolutionary activities that Ho Chi Minh led in early 1941. This comparatively easy walk also affords fascinating views of Ba Be National Park, which is home to plenty of caves, lakes, and ponds, so pack your swimmers.
The pinnacle of the Ha Giang trek is the ascent to the highest peaks of Dong Van, a border town with a series of awe-inspiring mountain pass and valleys. Several trails run along the mountains from Dong Van to Meo Vac town can be challenging, as they cross many passes and climb several summits. The views, however, are tremendous. At the top of Ma Pi Leng Pass is a panorama of mountain ranges, limestone peaks, and canyons. Then, descend into the beautiful deep valleys dotted with fields and rocky mountains. Make sure to visit the Hmong Palace, which features a traditional Chinese-style mansion with four double-story wings, built by Chinese traders with the consent of French colonial rulers in 1902.
A five-day trek with Mr Linh’s Adventures, from $1045, can be booked upon request.
Far less well known and much newer than Fansipan Mountain, Bach Moc Luong Tu Mountain is the fourth highest peak in Vietnam, at 3046 metres. A three-day trek to the mountain is for those who have a good head for heights and are happy scrambling over rough, steep rocks for hours (even days) at a time. The terrain is a challenge, often boggy, sometimes dense with trees, sometimes rocky. However, it is a superb and rewarding walk, especially at dawn and dusk. You will wake up early to make your way to the peak, immersing yourself in the ocean of floating clouds. And the views during sunset are magnificent.
Home to abundant wildlife including gibbons, sambar deer, wild boar, black-shanked douc and rare flora and fauna, Nam Cat Tien National Park (approximately 160 kilometres northeast of Ho Chi Minh City) is one of the Vietnam’s top trekking destinations. The three-day gibbon trek offers a chance to see endangered primates in the wild. A highlight of the trek is undoubtedly the viewing of gibbons and their daily activities.
A three-day trek with Forest Floor Lodge starts at $175, including a guide and tickets.