VietnamActivities & AttractionsAn Introduction to Vietnam’s Mountains

An Introduction to Vietnam’s Mountains

In Vietnam, we have serene and bustling cities for those who want to join in the energetic flow of the town 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. If you are an avid mountain climber or hiker, Vietnam also has the perfect treat. Here is our list of Vietnam’s mountains to plan your next hiking trip.

Vietnam’s Terrain and Mountainous Areas

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. Though, mountain peaks above 2,000m only account for 1% of the country’s landmass.

Where to Find Vietnam’s Mountains

The mountainous areas are divided into the Northwest region (in the North, near the Laos 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). Most high mountains are in the northwest region (The Hoang Lien Son Range). Going from Northwest down to Southeast, the height of the mountains starts to descend.

sapa view from fansipan cable car 2

Top Vietnam’s Mountains to Visit

Phan Xi Pang (Fansipan) Mountain

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, making it also the highest mountain in the Indochina. The local name for Fansipan is “Hua Xi Pan’’, which means “giant unstable rock”, but tourists nowadays would refer to it as “Rooftop of Indochina’’.

Fansipan is part of the Hoang Lien Son Range in northwest Vietnam. It is adjacent to Lao Cai and Lai Chau province, 9 kilometers west of Sa Pa.

fansipan view 1

The spectacular view of Fansipan

When is the best time to hike 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’s majestic nature views, diminishing your enjoyment. So the best time of the year to climb the Fansipan is between October and April, especially in October and November when the rainy season ends or February and March, which is before the rainy season.

Fansipan is among the difficult Vietnam’s mountains to conquer, so make sure you are physically fit. It usually takes 2 to 3 days to complete a trek. If you request one, a guide can be found at local hotels and tour agencies in Sa Pa. To get to Fansipan, you can ride the overnight train or the bus to Lao Cai from the starting point in Hanoi. Then, you must take a car ride to get to Sa Pa.

fansipan view 2

At the top of Fansipan

Requirements for climbing Fansipan

You must obtain a permit from the Hoang Lien Center for Ecotourism and Environmental Education before starting the journey. The fee is VND 150,000.

On a typical 2-day trek, you will start in the morning and then reach a resting camp point at 2,700m around the afternoon. You will have dinner and spend the night at this campsite.

For aspiring climbers, please prepare the necessities before challenging the Fansipan on foot, ranging from trail shoes to hiking sticks, gloves, scarves, blankets, tents, foods, water, camera, and chargers.

fansipan view 3

View from the cable car

Find luxury hotels and resorts in Sapa below:

Cable ride to Fansipan summit

In 2016, a massive cable car system was conceived to make conquering the Fansipan summit achievable for anyone. It holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest non-stop three-rope cable car (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. The ticket is VND 700,000 for adults, VND 500,000 for children from 1m to 1,3m tall, and free for children under 1m. The ride will reduce your journey to just 15 minutes.

vietnam mountains sapa fansipan rail

More on hiking and trekking in Vietnam

Pu Ta Leng Mountain

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 belongs to the Hoang Lien Son Range. Situated in the Lai Chau Region, Pu Ta Leng is famous for housing the most beautiful rhododendron simsii flowers in the region. The scenery of Pu Ta Leng is undoubtedly remarkable,thanks to the weather and the soil.

To get to Pu Ta Leng, you can go straight from Hanoi to Ta Leng Village, or from Hanoi to Sa Pa, and then to Ta Leng by car or motorcycle. A guide would be needed for this journey, and you can find one locally.

What to know when hiking to Pu Ta Leng

The trail will initially seem easy, but it will get progressively more challenging due to the steep forest. The whole journey is around 3 days. On the first day, you will hike until you reach the resting camp point at approximately 2,400m. On the second day, departing from the camp point, you will head for the summit. The last day will be spent walking the long way back, remember to check your belongings, and there is no cable car here.

Yen Tu Mountain

Let’s take a break from the height theme and talk about a mountain of historical and cultural significance. One of Yen Tu old names 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 moved to Yen Tu Mountain after abdicating to practice Buddhism. He combined the existing Thien (Zen) sects in Vietnam to create Vietnam’s only indigenous Thien sect, “Thien Phai Truc Lam’’ or “Truc Lam Yen Tu’’. From then on, Yen Tu Mountain became the Ancestral Land of Vietnam Buddhism.

truc lam yen tu

View from Truc Lam Yen Tu Buddhist Zen Monastery

How to get to Yen Tu

The summit of Yen Tu belongs to Quang Ninh District. You can easily access the base of Yen Tu Mountain by bus, motor coach, or motorcycle. With a height of 1,068m, trekking Yen Tu is a relatively easy task (the 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 a pilgrimage. The trail to the summit is around 6km long, well-paved with stone steps, and surrounded by bamboo trees and pine trees. An element of mysticism and inner peace is evoked through the peaceful greenery.

dong pagoda

The Dong Pagoda is completely made out of bronze

What to see at Yen Tu Mountain

The journey starts at Giai Oan Stream (Exoneration Stream), a place built to appeal to the spirits of Tran Nhan Tong grieving concubines when he became a monk. There is a bridge to cross this stream. Next is the Hue Quang Tower Garden, where part of the Tran Nhan Tong relic is kept. Walk some more, and you can spot Hoa Yen Pagoda, 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 in 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 guide on Where to Stay at Yen Tu Mountain.

vietnam mountains yen tu cable ride

Read more about this on the UNESCO site.

Ba Den Mountain (Black Virgin Moutain)

Another one of many Vietnam mountains to notice is Ba Den Mountain. At 986m, Ba Den Mountain is the highest mountain in South Vietnam.

The legend of Ba Den Mountain

With various pagodas, Ba Den Mountain is also a pilgrimage site for religious folks. There are three legends about this mountain. The more popular one is 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 going 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.

linh son tien thach pagoda

The mountain is bustling with visitors

The pagoda associated with that legend is the Linh Son Tien Thach Pagoda or 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 still survived. Aside from the various pagodas, there are also many caves in this area.

mountain slide

Ba Den is also a popular hiking location

How to get to Ba Den Mountain

Ba Den Mountain is approximately 100km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City and 10km Northeast of Tay Ninh City. Any transportation would do. Now, the easiest way is to take the cable car. A two-way ticket is VND 160,000 per 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 a fun way to travel through the mountain and a fun activity while you are there. But if you are into trekking, follow the well-established routes. It takes 3 to 4 hours to reach the summit.

Lang Biang Mountain

12km north of Da Lat City is Lang Biang Mountain. The namesake of this mountain came from a legend, similar to Romeo and Juliet.

The story behind Lang Biang Mountain

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 that witnessed the couple’s death saw fault in their way, so they united as one tribe.

How to get to Lang Biang Mountain

You have to pay an entrance fee of VND 30,000 upon entering the mountain base. 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 15-minute jeep ride at VND 360,000 for each jeep. The car can carry a maximum of 6 people per jeep, so with 6 passengers, the price will be VND 60,000/each person.

The second option is by motorcycle or car. You can take the same road as the jeep. Though it is not advisable for inexperienced drivers, the curves on the mountain pass can be really dangerous. And of course, you can choose to hike.

Hiking to Lang Biang Summit

You should trek Lang Biang in Spring, just before the cherry blossom bloom. You can choose to walk along the mountain pass to avoid getting lost or hiking through the woods. The exotic fauna, the refreshing atmosphere, and the 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 path 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 Da Lat below Lang Biang’s peak. While you are at it, treat yourself to some ice cream sold at restaurants here to feel the chill.

Get your tickets to travel from Ho Chi Minh to Da Lat:

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In Summary of Vietnam’s Mountains

Many more of Vietnam’s mountains are waiting for you to discover than what we mentioned in this blog. Go ahead and comment below if you want to read about a mountain that is not on this humble list. It is important to remember that if you are planning on taking on a trek or hike, please prepare all the necessities and gear, check up on your health, and find some partners if possible.

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