Vietnam Mountain Marathon in Sapa. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Trail Series
Lined with sparkling new hotels and resorts, Da Nang City is the site of one of the most beautiful races in all of Southeast Asia, the Manulife Da Nang International Marathon. This annual run comes in a variety of distances, from a single-kilometre dash to a daunting full-length marathon. Relax in a well-shaded beach chair, or reward yourself in one of Da Nang’s countless seafood restaurants after you’ve crossed the finish line.
When: August 11, 2019
Halong City has one of the most stunning coastlines in the region. With the striking UNESCO-protected limestone cliffs as your backdrop, compete against other passionate runners in the Halong Bay International Heritage Marathon. Halong’s comfortable climate and surreal views ensure a pleasurable run. With a diverse selection of distances from a 10 kilometre fun run to a full-length marathon, you can choose your difficulty level. Afterwards, discover the attractions of Halong City, or unwind on a luxury overnight cruise.
When: November 24, 2019
The rolling fog-covered hills of Sa Pa serve a worthy challenge in this Vietnam Mountain Marathon. The mainly vertical terrain promises spectacular views as well as a difficult run. There are numerous distances ranging from five kilometres to a staggering 100-kilometre super marathon. Whether you prefer a brief jaunt past the rice fields, or the physical challenge of a lifetime, you’re bound to make memories in Sa Pa.
When: September 21-22, 2019
Once a year, honking scooters are forbidden in the streets of Hanoi. Instead, thousands of runners fill the roads for the Hanoi International Heritage Marathon. Crossing over Long Bien Bridge and winding through the city, this run passes some of Hanoi’s finest architecture and most recognizable landmarks. Celebrate at one of Hanoi’s modern rooftop bars or speakeasies. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Hanoi holiday without a sampling of the capital’s mouthwatering street food and creative coffees.
When: October 20, 2019
The mountainous highlands of Dalat dish out long rugged trails for experienced runners. Though there’s a number of varying distances, the route is carefully selected and not for the faint of heart. Painstakingly planned, the Dalat Ultra Trail is designed for sure-footed runners, who descend each year on the mountain town. The race guarantees a worthy challenge along with gorgeous scenery through pine forests and along bubbling streams. Dalat’s fresh spring weather makes this run all the more enjoyable.
When: Annually in mid-March
Mộc Châu is famous for peach orchards and tea plantations. The Vietnam Trail Marathon follows a carefully plotted course through the agricultural heart of Mộc Châu during the height of its peach blossom season. Colourful floral displays will compete for attention with forested mountains, and never-ending rice and tea fields. There are many distances offered in the Vietnam Trail Marathon, including an ultra-marathon for more daring runners.
When: Annually in mid-January
Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam’s biggest commercial hub, home to enormous skyscrapers, millions of motorbikes, and the largest marathon in Vietnam. Discover the varied neighbourhoods and districts of this urban epicentre while competing in the HCMC Marathon. You’ll be joined by locals as well as travelling runners from all over the world. When you’ve stopped running, take an evening to enjoy some of the city’s distinct street food or its burgeoning nightlife scene.
When: Annually in mid-January
The Ultra Asia Race should be undertaken only by the most adventurous and experienced runners. This three-day foot race is separated into four different stages spanning 160km. The course runs through Mai Châu’s picturesque rice plantations, and villages of Muong people—an independent and culturally distinct minority. Contestants must carry a backpack with all the necessary provisions.
When: March 9-12, 2020
Once a year a unique runners’ challenge emerges from the dense forests of Pu Luong Nature Reserve. Contestants in the carefully mapped Vietnam Jungle Marathon power through small villages, sharing the road with livestock and jungle brush. The tropical climate and lush landscape brings its own rewards and moments. There are many distances to choose from, including an ultra-marathon. Just don’t forget to enjoy the view.
When: Annually in April or May
The northern region of Hà Giang is a land of sheer cliffs and low canyons. The region is tranquil, far away from the hustle and bustle, and things move slowly—except when the Ha Giang Marathon is in town. Ha Giang’s demanding terrain is breathtaking, and runners can select the distance to match their skills. The rolling hills are dotted with small villages—each of which deserves a visit on a motorbike after if you have the time.
When: Annually in mid-April