The long and narrow country of Vietnam lies on the eastern edge of Southeast Asia. Vietnam is a land of tropical river delta's, lowlands and hills, and has a coastline of over 3400 km long. Two inland areas of higher mountains stand out: the Northern Highlands and the Central Highlands further south.

Vietnam's northwestern Highlands are by far the most popular for multi-day hikes through lush jungle-covered hills and mountains, passing through valleys following local paths from one hill tribe village to the next. These treks are not usually very demanding, and focus strongly on meeting the different tribes, visiting markets and staying overnight with local families. Major starting point is the town of Sapa,in the far northwest, close to the railway station of Lao Cai near the Chinese border. If you are in for some serious hiking, you can do a multi-day trek from Sapa up Vietnam's highest mountain, Fansipan (3143 m). Closer to Hanoi is the hill town of Mai Chau, surrounded by beautiful limestone hills and starting point for multi-day hikes through Pu Luong Nature reserve. And there are other, more remote trekking possibilities further northeast, following local trails connecting minority villages, through bamboo forests and terraced ricefields. For example a 7-day trek starting from the hill town of Quang Binh across the mountains to the market town of Bac Ha.

In the southern half of Vietnam, in the interior along the border with Laos and Cambodia and parallel to the coast, are the Central Highlands or Tay Nguyen. They are a series of plateaus surrounded by the Annamite Mountains. The different plateaus range in height from 500 to 1500 m. Highest peak of the Annamites is Ngoc Linh (2598 m). Towns like Dalat, Buon Ma Thuot, Pleiku and Kontum are good places to start a hike and explore the surrounding countryside, minority villages, rubber and coffee plantations and some remaining original jungle.

Vietnam has a tropical and very humid climate, with heavy rainfall during the summer monsoon (May to October) in both the highland and lowland regions. Hiking is best done during the dry season, from November until April, when there is less rain, with clearer skies and better views to enjoy.




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