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Rock climbing in Vietnam

Ha Long Bay’s towering sea cliffs are Vietnam’s most well-known and popular climbing destination.  Here there is a paradise of adventure climbing ranging from sport climbing to deep water soloing (DWS).  However there are other climbing areas in Vietnam, mainly around the city of Hanoi.

Rock Climbing at Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay is the jewel in the crown of Vietnamese climbing and has long being considered a paradise of adventure climbing, with both sport climbing and deep water soling available. The Bay lies in the Gulf of Tonkin just off Vietnam's northern coastline where there are approximately 1,600 limestone karst islands with steep walls rising directly out of the sea.

Some of the limestone karst islands of Ha Long Bay
Some of the limestone karst islands of Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay is home to the largest concentration of sport routes in Vietnam, many of which are located on Cat Ba Island.  Cat Ba Island is home to numerous well-bolted crags that offer a good diversity of climbing with a range of styles on good quality limestone.  The main crags are Butterfly Valley, Ben Beo Harbour, Buddha Cave and Hidden Valley.  Access to these crags is usually via a scooter ride (cheap and easy to hire) that adds to the overall adventure.   Out in the bay there are also a number of sport crags such as Moody Beach, The Amphitheater, and Tiger Beach, where it is sometimes necessary to delay directly from a boat (again easy to hire).

DWS in Ha Long BayHowever the Bay area is famous for its deep water soloing (DWS) where there is an almost limitless number of routes.  Some of the popular crags include Polish Pillar, Hawaii 5-0, and Three Brothers, though there are over 20 established crags in Ha Long Bay. The climbing style tends to be on overhanging rock featuring tufas, cracks and traverses, with routes ranging from F4a to F8a.  It should be noted that the bay has a unique tidal system where high tides are more frequent during certain times of the year.  A high tide of at least 2.2m is recommended to safely climb these deep water soloing routes.  These high tides occur primarily between June and November, with the best climbing months being June, September, October, and November.  Access to these deep water soloing routes is via a boat, and it is important to personally check tide heights before setting off.

Other Climbing areas in Vietnam

Huu Lung is located to the north of Hanoi with perfect limestone rock featuring pockets, tufas, crimps and slopers, mainly vertical and steep rock.  There are around 70 single pitch routes ranging from F5a+ to F8a, plus one serious multi-pitch route called Chuć Suć Khoé (F6b+ obligatory or F7a max).

Map of the main rock climbing areas in Vietnam

Map of the main rock climbing areas in Vietnam

Vietnam rock climbing guidebookQuoc Oai is a limestone massif that rises from the rice paddy fields, located just outside of Hanoi’s metropolis. There are around 20 routes and it is easily accessible in a day trip from the city.

Mai Chau is located to the southwest of Hanoi.  The climbing is in a valley overlooking rice paddy fields, creating a unique and isolated climbing paradise.  The climbing is on good quality limestone rock across a wide range of grades.  Routes vary from steep vertical faces to three-dimensional problem solving on monster tufas.

The Vietnam rock climbing guidebookdetails all of the routes found at Ha Long Bay plus the sport climbing at Huu Lung, Quoc Oai, and Mai Chau near Hanoi.

Vietnam rock climbing photograph – Argentinas Delight Vietnam rock climbing photograph – Cho Cai Fot Life Vietnam rock climbing photograph – Love Handles Vietnam rock climbing photograph – Golden Ledge Vietnam rock climbing photograph – Streak of Lightening Vietnam rock climbing photograph – Fresh Air

Click on the images to view a larger photograph, showing the excellent rock climbing and deep water soloing found at Ha Long Bay in Vietnam.

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Vietnam rock climbing guidebook

The Vietnam rock climbing guidebook details all of the routes found at Ha Long Bay plus the sport climbing at Huu Lung, Quoc Oai, and Mai Chau near Hanoi.