Vietnam is without a doubt a promising, up-and-coming international destination for rock climbing aficionados. Already, spectacular outdoor locations within the country to defy gravity include Cat Ba, next to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ha Long Bay, plus sites around the capital city of Hanoi, such as Huu Long, Quoc Oai and Mai Chau. Meanwhile, there’s also a growing number of modern, sophisticated indoor bouldering gyms available, mainly in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon, Vietnam’s largest city), such as VietClimb and Vertical Academy.
Me and my husband, Cez, have travelled across Vietnam with our own equipment, so we had a chance to try out a few spots. Where we couldn’t go, we researched well to provide you here with the best overview of top rock climbing places in Vietnam.
So if you’re heading to Vietnam and fancy a session – or several! – of bouldering, sports climbing or even Deep Water Soloing (DWS, otherwise known as psicobloc), check out our guide to the top indoor and outdoor spots for rock climbing in Vietnam.
You can learn more about visiting this Southeast Asian country, such as the visa requirements, how to stay safe if you’re travelling alone, and about Vietnam’s airports, on Byevisa.com.
Best Locations for Rock Climbing Outdoors in Vietnam
1. Cat Ba and Halong Bay
Like we say above, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ha Long Bay is Vietnam’s premier location for tourists, and the nearby island of Cat Ba for rock climbing. This area is found on Vietnam’s northeastern coast and, to reach there, it’s a two-to-three hour, 170km car/bus/motorbike journey east from Hanoi. (By comparison, Ho Chi Minh city is located entirely on the other side of Vietnam, some 1,800km away).
Ha Long Bay is composed of some 1,600 limestone karst islands that rise directly out of the sea, and so offer innumerable excellent opportunities for rock climbers. Depending on your preference, you can either go for sports climbing (when you wear a rope for protection, and there are anchors fixed to the rock) or DWS (where you’re protected by the sea below).
If you opt for DWS, it’s of course important to make sure that you go climbing at high tide, to ensure that the sea level is sufficiently deep to cushion you if you fall; there must be a sea level of at least 2.2m to offer adequate protection. Because of Ho Long Bay’s unique tidal currents, the best times of year to go DWS are from June to November.
Within Cat Ba, the most famous area for rock climbers is Butterfly Valley. This offers well-known crags for sports climbing that are easily accessible by scooter such as Butterfly Valley. Hidden Cave is a bit more tricky to find but it’s near the city centre and well maintained. Further afield, top crags that can be reached chiefly by boat include The Amphitheater and Tiger Beach. All in all, this is truly an unmissable place to go rock climbing in Vietnam!
The rock climbing tour operators in Cat Ba maintain the crags and ensure that everyone who ventures on their own knows the basic safety measures. That’s to make sure there are no accidents so that the government doesn’t crack down and prohibit climbing.
2. Mai Chau (Southwest of Hanoi)
Mai Chau is located some 150km from Vietnam’s capital, a two-to-three hour journey. It’s well known for its sports climbing, and offers breathtaking views across the nearby rice paddies and mountains. This is also considered a top location to take in the sunset, before heading back to your accommodation.
3. Huu Lung (North of Hanoi)
If you’re based in Hanoi and want to indulge your outdoor climbing without venturing too far from the capital, Huu Lung is an attractive option; it’s found just 95km north of Hanoi, a two hour car or motorbike journey. Huu Lung is the longest climbing site in Vietnam at 105 metres, and so far there are 110 routes in place, each one averaging 30m high. As you’d expect, this site also provides some truly majestic views of the Vietnamese countryside.
Please note that while locals are lovely, the French owner of VietClimb feels the area belongs to him and that his permission needs to be sought after before venturing. He would like climbers to take his transport there which is ridiculously priced (at least that was the case when we were going).
There’s an approach fee that you can pay to the owner of the nearby house. Locals will be happy to point you in the right direction.
Best Locations for Rock Climbing Indoors in Vietnam
For climbing fans, Vietnam offers a growing number of quality indoor sites. The first one sprung up relatively recently, in 2006, yet as time passes and more people feel the buzz of climbing culture, more indoor areas are opening. Here are some of the best ones to date:
1. X-Rock Mountain (Ho Chi Minh City)
X-Rock Mountain was Vietnam’s first indoor rock climbing site, founded some 15 years ago. There are 10 bouldering routes available, plus 25 rope climbs of 10-15 metres high. Their details are as follows:
- Address: 503 A Nguyen Duy Trinh, Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Trung Dong Ward, District 2
- Phone Number: +84 086 278 5794
- Facebook Page
2. Vertical Academy
Vertical Academy offers a 100-square metre climbing area up to 4.5m high, with over 80 bouldering challenges. They also organize outdoor trips to Read Earth Area, an emerging climbing spot first explored in 2016, a two-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City. Here’s how to get in touch with Vertical Academy:
- Address: 18 Truc Duong, Thao Dien; D2, Ho Chi Minh City
- Phone Number: +84 086 281 9248
3. VietClimb (Hanoi)
VietClimb boasts a 200-square metre gym for bouldering (where you don’t wear ropes or a harness, and you’re protected by padded floors). The routes are colour-coded and range in the challenge they offer, from beginner to expert. VietClimb also offer guided trips to Huu Lung Bay, Cat Ba and Quoc Oa, but the owner is very aggressive and unpleasant. Here are their details:
- Address: No.40 lane 76 An Duong, Tay Ho district, Hanoi
- Phone Number: +84 024 6682 4352
Your Turn to Climb in Vietnam
With these indoor and outdoor sites in mind, you should have more than enough inspiration for your climbing excursions in Vietnam! Whether you’re based around either of the country’s major two cities, there are top opportunities available for beginners and experts. So, on your next trip here, show gravity who’s the boss!