Nicholas Eager

How to Hike Pu Ta Leng in Northern Vietnam

Last updated: 12 January 2023

Hiking in northern Vietnam can be a thrilling and adventurous experience. The region is home to a diverse landscape, including rolling hills, towering mountains, and dense forests. The trails offer breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside, as well as the opportunity to see a wide range of plant and animal life. Join us as we hike through cloudy jungles, spend a few nights in a local village, go to a highland market, play with all sorts of animals, summit Pu Ta Leng peak twice, and cook our own delicious dinner in a shelter.

Best Time to Go

The weather in Lao Cai is generally pleasant throughout the year, but it can get quite cold in the winter months (December to February), with temperatures dropping to around 10°C (50°F). The summer months (June to August) can be quite hot and humid, with temperatures reaching as high as 35°C (95°F). You might enjoy cooler months or the warmer months. It's worth considering the weather and the conditions of the trails when planning your trip.


Click to use the map

To better view the map, see it in full-screen. Learn how to download the map for your own offline use by reading how I navigate on the trail.


Brief Itinerary

Phase Itinerary Distance / Elevation
1 Drive to Lai Chau from Sapa - / -
2 Lai Chau to Shelter
9 km
5 miles
2408 m
7900 ft
3 Shelter to Pu Ta Leng Summit
4 km
2 miles
3049 m
10003 ft
4 Pu Ta Leng Summit to Shelter
4 km
2 miles
2408 m
7900 ft
5 Shelter to Lai Chau
9 km
5 miles
1500 m
4921 ft
6 Drive to Sapa from Lai Chau - / -

My Favorite Highlights

Staying at Our Guide's Home

four people in trekking guides home
duck standing on top of fence

Our only guide, Báo, lives just in the foothills of the same mountain we set out to climb. We stayed at his place with his family before and after the hike, eating delicious dinners, getting to know each other, and playing with all of his animals. In addition to being a trekking guide, Báo and his family grow rice and corn in terraces, and cardamom in the jungle. The Dao is an ethnic minority group in Vietnam, known for their colorful traditional clothing and rich cultural traditions. Dao women are known for their brightly colored embroidered clothing, which is often worn on special occasions. The clothing is usually made of indigo-dyed cloth and features intricate patterns and designs. Dao men may also wear traditional clothing, such as loose-fitting pants and a long tunic.

Going to A Highland Market

pile of red chili peppers at market

We grabbed some pork, veggies, and other goodies from a local highland market and cooked a delicious dinner that evening. The Dao people have a distinctive cuisine that is based on locally-sourced ingredients, such as rice, vegetables, and meats. Some dishes that may be served at a special dinner for the Dao include braised chicken with ginger, stir-fried pork with lemongrass, and spicy boiled fish.

Climbing the Mountain

two people climbing through bamboo tunnel
girl hiking through corn farm in the mountains
dense forest in fog
camera hanging on tree
girl hiking in misty cardamom jungle

We started off walking through local villages, farms, and rivers. Eventually we started the steep seemingly endless climb up the mountain.

Staying at the Shelter

jungle shelter
two plates of pork on dinner mat
cutting meat with herbs
cooking meat in large wok
grilling pork over fire close up
grilling pork over fire

We spent the night at a quaint trekker’s shelter run by two friendly Dao women, who built the shelter two years ago to help trekkers brace the elements such as heavy rain and landslides. Our dinner that night consisted of our supplies from the market as well as some cardamom picked from the jungle along the way. Everyone got to know each other around the fire through Vietnamese, Dao, and a little English. We were so tired that we went to bed at 19:30.


Check out a video that I made about the entire trip! I tried my best to capture all of the little beautiful moments by letting them speak for themselves. So there are no explanations or speaking in this video, just moments :)

You Might Also Like

My site does not support public comments. Please use the form below to send a comment directly to me if you want to ask questions; I am happy to help.

Safety Disclosure This travel guide is intended for educational purposes only. Readers are urged to conduct their due diligence, verify current conditions, and research the most recent information independently. Conditions along trails and relevant details may change, necessitating the confirmation of accurate and updated information from reliable sources or local authorities before undertaking any travel or outdoor activities.

Affiliate Disclosure This travel guide contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission for purchases made through these links at no cost to you. Your support helps sustain the creation of more content.