Stunning rock climbing crags, adventurous scooter rides, cruising down a river, and delicious food.
Does this sound like the ideal vacation for you?
Then you better book your flight to Vietnam (remember that you can book a visa on arrival)! While most people think of typical places like Thailand or Spain for rock climbing vacations, Vietnam has so much to offer. Aside from the plethora of breathtaking limestone crags in various parts of Vietnam, Vietnam can also offer some great indoor bouldering gyms, along with some other incredible outdoor activities. And not to mention the delicious and affordable food!
Top Rock Climbing Crags in Vietnam
Vietnam has one of the best rock climbing destinations in Asia, if you come in the right season and also avoid the crazy touristy local or Chinese crowd.
So where can you go to experience Vietnam Rock Climbing?
1. Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba Island (or Cát bà island) is a spectacular place where you can both sport climb and deep water solo. Like in the rest of the country, you will find high-quality limestone routes, which thankfully aren’t too polished due to the fact that Vietnam is not as popular as other Southeast Asian climbing destinations like Krabi in Thailand.
Butterfly Valley, which can be found at this location in Google Maps, is the largest and perhaps the most popular crag on the island and really beautiful to climb when you go in the summer time where the butterflies are ample!
Hidden Valley is also a very popular climbing area on the island, being the second biggest after Butterfly Valley. It feels like a scene of Jurrasic Park when you approach the wall.
Routes at this crag range from vertical to pretty steep, and there are things to offer to both beginner and advanced climbers. You can find route information and recommendations for this crag on Mountain Project. Just be sure to get an access pass before going to any of the Cat Ba Island crags from the climbing shops on the island Cat Ba Climbing.
Have you considered visiting the nearby countries to climb? Some good spots are Kampot in Cambodia or Krabi in Thailand.
Cat Ba Island Hotels and
Due to it being a popular tourist destination, both for rock climbing and general sightseeing, you can find accommodation to be quite cheap on Cat Ba Island. There are plenty of hostels for less than US$10 a night, so you’ll be sure to find some affordable lodging for your stay through Airbnb or Booking.com.
Just be sure to pick up a Valley Pass before heading out to climb on Cat Ba Island, which you can get for free at Cat Ba Climbing after doing a quick verification test (complimentary!). I highly recommend traveling to the crags via scooter, which you can rent from many hotels or along the streets on the island. It can be as affordable as US$6-8 a day for the scooter.
2. Huu Lung (Hanoi)
Huu Lung, though not as well known as Cat Ba Island, is another great option for rock climbing in Vietnam. Located north of Hanoi, you can find some great sports climbing routes here, with options for beginners and advanced climbers alike. It’s a relatively new crag, so it’s important to wear a helmet, but making the trip out there will be well worth it.
3. Deep Water Solo and Climbing at Halong Bay Vietnam
Sport climbing isn’t the only outdoor rock climbing available in Vietnam-you can also deep water solo (DWS)!
There is a lot of deep water soloing in Vietnam available, but I highly recommend that you go on a guided trip, such as one of the excursions offered by Cat Ba Climbing. Going on your own or with an unofficial boat charter can be dangerous, so it’s worth it to pay to go on a proper tour to make sure that you are safe and enjoy your experience to the fullest as the experienced guides will bring you to the safe spots to attempt it.
Alternatively, just the usual Halong Bay Climbing at crags would be still very enjoyable.
Hanoi to Halong Bay Day Visit
Halong Bay is perhaps the best spot for deep water soloing, but there are many other hidden gems that some of these climbing shop tours will bring you. But be sure to check the tide reports before heading over, as it’s not safe to climb at all times of the year. There you’ll find over 200 DWS routes of varying grades, so you’ll have a plethora of climbing options! Deep water soloing in Vietnam is an adventure that you’re sure to never forget.
4. Vang Vieng
3 hours away by bus from Vientiane which is the capital of Laos, you will arrive at Vang Vieng, the 3rd best climbing area near Vietnam (while part of Laos, it’s near enough to Vietnam to be included in this list). This province used to be a partier’s paradise. However, in the current years, the party crowd is now almost gone and Vang Vieng has converted to becoming a mini-Korean town. If you exit the main city area where we stayed and are not quite a fan of, take a tuk-tuk out to the rock climbing crags that are next to the Nam Song River.
There are a number of climbing spots, but we went to Sleeping Wall for a 1 day rock climb. There is almost 200 routes there graded between 5.9-5.13 ( also known as 5a to 8a) grades, so you will definitely have 1-2 routes that is suited for your climbing level. We could hear the occasional screams from the tourists across the river trying ziplining.
This climbing destination was also Cez’s 1st time attempting outdoor natural rock climbing and that was how he fell in love with this sport over time. You can find local outdoor adventure climbing tour agents like Adam’s Climbing School that offer options for 1 to 2 days rock climbing classes or courses, guided local trips or local transportation to the crag in the area. Some of these climbing guides we chatted with are so familiar and experience with rock climbing that they can without blinking an eye rock climb free solo a 6b route in only slippers (Note: We strongly do NOT encourage you to attempt that).
Rock Climbing Bouldering Gyms in Vietnam
Hanoi Bouldering Gym
Aside from the incredible outdoor climbing, you can find a number of indoor climbing gyms in Vietnam. If you happen to get inclement weather, or if indoor bouldering is more your thing, check out VietClimb, located in Hanoi. VietClimb has a cosy workout and bouldering space which consists mainly of bouldering. However, they do charge for water refills so just a word of warning first. Aside from their indoor climbing offerings, you can also hire them for outdoor and overnight climbing trips to Huu Lung.
Ho Chi Minh Bouldering Gym
What are the gyms in Ho Chi Minh?
And if you find yourself in Ho Chi Minh City, check out Vertical Academy. The first indoor bouldering gym in the city, it’s equipped with training spaces such as a campus board and a peg board, along with an extensive bouldering area, including slab, vertical, overhanging, and cave climbing.
Some other gyms we visited mid this year in our return trip to Vietnam also include Push Climbing and Saigon Climbing Centre. Check out the full list of Bouldering Gyms in Vietnam and Asia here.
So now that you have an overview of the awesome places to experience Vietnam rock climbing and delicious gourmet, what’s stopping you to paying Cat Ba, Huu Lung, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh a visit for some good old indoor and outdoor rock climbing? You will not be disappointed.
Read on about the food and outdoor sights suggestions in Vietnam in the same trip…
Read on about other interesting destinations to visit in South East Asia:
– Hue Province in Vietnam
– Hoi An in Vietnam
– Bagan in Myanmar
– Inle Lake in Myanmar