Are you headed to Vietnam? You'll want to make sure you get in your daily jog. While not exactly known as a runner's paradise, there are plenty of trails to be followed and mountains to be scaled once you escape the busyness of places like Ho Chi Minh City. Here are just nine spots where you can flee or even utilise the crowds for a great run.
1. Ba Vi National Park
Location: Outside of Hanoi
Ba Vi National Park is nestled in the gorgeous slopes of the Ba Vi Mountains, offering trails, shrines and gardens to all those who seek its beauty. Its most famous summit is a 1229-step climb to an ancient religious temple, but you can also explore the mountains at your leisure. Run through canopies of trees; splash through brooks and streams; take a break as you gaze at tiny cities in the distance. Just be sure to dodge the flying squirrels!
2. Da Nang
Difficulty: Easy to hard
Location: Throughout the city
If you're a marathon runner, you won't want to miss the annual Da Nang Marathon. It's an amazing multi-sensory experience where you'll cross bridges, steps and sidewalks in addition to dirt roads and green hills, and the scenery will include everything from lines of schoolchildren to towering palaces on the horizon. You can even pick your own difficulty level: The marathon comes with 5km, 21km and 42km stops.
3. Black Virgin Mountain
Difficulty: Moderate to hard
Location: Tay Ninh
The Black Virgin Mountains should only be undertaken by serious runners; while the steps are paved, they can also be steep and slippery under certain weather conditions, which is why cable cars exist for tourists. If you aren't afraid of a little danger, however, you'll find the Black Virgin Mountains a challenging and worthwhile summit.
4. Da Lat Trail
Difficulty: Moderate to hard
Location: Da Lat
While most famous for a climate that never wavers between 15-20°C, Da Lat also offers extraordinary beauty when you escape the city limits. Watch the sunrise as you jog around the shores of Victory Lake; test your limits with the forestry of Langbian Mountain; take a breather in the grasses of the Valley of Love. There's something for everyone in Da Lat, and you won't even have to worry about the heat that encompasses the rest of Vietnam.
5. Ho Chi Minh Trail
Location: Within the limits of the Song Sai Gong
It can be difficult to run in the city of Ho Chi Minh; between the crowded streets and a large amount of pollution from cars and scooters, it just isn't a feasible place to pound the pavement. If you take this trail around the interior border of the Song Sai Gong, however, you'll avoid the worst of the bustle while also getting to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of a city pulsing with life. Try to go in the morning for the best experience.
6. My Khe Beach
Location: East of Da Nang
If you don't mind a little sand between your toes, My Khe beach is a great place to get your blood pumping. The coast stretches for a glorious 30km, offering picturesque views of sand, sky and sea, and on clear days you can even see the Marble Mountains in the distance. You'll feel connected to nature like never before as you breathe in the clean, crisp air of My Khe.
7. Hoang Lien National Park
Difficulty: Easy to difficult
Location: Just outside of Sapa
Choose your own adventure when you run in Hoang Lien National Park. The landscape is filled with rivers, cliffs and mountains for everything from simple jogs to heavy climbs, and the scenery will be breathtaking no matter how you decide to experience it. You can run as little or as far as you want; the trails are clearly marked and most of them loop back to their starting points. If you're looking for terrain that runners of all ages and fitness levels can enjoy, this is it.
8. Giang Vo Lake
What if you aren't trying to break long-distance records? What if you just want a nice, easy jog where you can breathe in the smells of baking bread and frying meat? Giang Vo Lake is located in the heart of Hanoi, one of Vietnam's busiest cities, yet it offers a respite from the daily grind with its scenic shores and starry nights. You'll be able to enjoy both natural beauty and the sizzling of nearby food vendors when you run the length of Giang Vo.
9. Sapa Mountain
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
The first leg of the Vietnam Mountain Marathon is also a relatively easy one. You'll need to be physically fit to last the entire 10km, but the weather is temperate, the dirt roads are smooth and the colourful locals are always milling around if you need directions or just encouragement. Birds fly overhead and flowers wave in the breeze. Sapa is known for its beauty throughout Vietnam, and this run will give you a firsthand look at it.
Running Trails in Vietnam
These are just nine places where you can work up a sweat in Vietnam. Where do you like to run when you're here? Have you discovered an interesting running trail in Vietnam? Do you have any trail running experience in Vietnam? Share with us in the comments below.