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Guide to Vietnam's National Parks

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What You Need to Know

  1. Vietnam has an astounding level of biodiversity and is home to many rare and endemic species.
  2. There are large problems with wildlife crime in the country, which the national parks are trying to stamp out. Visiting these parks can help support their efforts.
  3. Cat Tien is one of the biggest parks and has various accommodation options for those who want to stay overnight.
  4. Though a huge array of larger mammals live in Cat Tien, they are wary of humans. It is rare for visitors to come across wild tigers, bears and other such animals. This is the case at all national parks.
  5. If you find yourself in the popular Halong bay area, the trails on the island of Cat Ba (part of which is a national park) are worth your time.
  6. Cuc Phuong is a lot more out of the way than a location such as Cat Ba, making it perfect if your keen to avoid the company of other tourists.
  7. If you don’t mind a climb, Ba Vi and Bach Ma have a range of mountainous summits to venture up.

Vietnam has an astounding level of biodiversity, making it an essential travel destination for wildlife enthusiasts. The country boasts an incredible array of mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and other fauna, including a number of highly rare and endemic species.

Unfortunately, much of this spectacular abundance of wildlife is under threat. Indeed, Vietnam has been ranked as one of the worst countries in the world for wildlife crime. The nation’s national parks are fighting to try and preserve Vietnam’s natural splendour. Visiting one of these parks is a great way to see the beautiful creatures that inhabit the area, whilst contributing to the push to save species in peril.

Here’s a look at just some of Vietnam’s best national parks;

Cat Tien

Covering a huge 71,920 hectares the park is one of the biggest and, thanks to the number of endemic species it provides a habitat for, one of the most important of Vietnam’s national parks. Whilst it does need to be noted that some of the larger animals are, understandably, shy of humans and therefore rarely spotted by visitors, there is still plenty on offer.

The bird watching at Cat Tien is considered the best in southern Vietnam with 326 different types to be spotted. Though they may not have the same pull as elephants and tigers, there’s also a wealth of less obvious attractions, including unusual mushrooms and a plethora of insects, including more than 400 varieties of butterfly.

If you don’t mind keeping things basic the park has bungalows and tents near to their headquarters in which visitors can stay overnight. If you want something a touch more comfortable, The Forest Floor Eco Lodge, has family suites available and a quality restaurant. They can also help you arrange activities in the park such as mountain biking, hiking or visits to the primate centre or crocodile swamp.

Cat Ba

Most of the park consists of tropical rainforest and there are plenty of different trails you can take incorporating attractions such as the Frod Lake, the Trung Trung Cave and Ngu Lam Mount. It’s located in Halong Bay which is increasingly demanding the attention of tourists, especially those with an ecological bent.

If you want to mix things up, the surrounding area gets pretty rowdy during the summer months, perfect if you fancy partying on the seafront. Naturally, being such a popular area, there are plenty of nearby hotels you can choose from. There also healthy water based options for those wanting a bit of action mixed in with an appreciation of the landscape, including kayaking, sailing, swimming and mountain biking.

Cuc Phuong

This park is much more out of the way, and is a good bet if you’re one of those tourists who puts a lot of worth in not spending a trip surrounded by other tourists. It’s great for bird watching, and you can also expect to catch sight of some intriguing reptiles and other animals as you walk or cycle through the forests.

The park has restaurants and a hotel which offers accommodation at reasonable enough rates. If you’d rather spend your nights doing something a little more memorable than just sleeping you can, with the assistance of a guide, camp in the park and set off in search of nocturnal critters.

Bach Ma

Situated up in the Annamite mountain range the park’s highest point is a lofty 1540m above sea level. You’ll probably want to stay away in winter as it’s the wettest region in Vietnam and this is when the rains fall.

As the park ranges from mountainous peaks down to the shoreline of the east coast, it has a variety of habitats and, as you’d expect, a wide range of animals. The park contains as much as one fifth of the flora to be found in Vietnam, with rare orchids being a particular pull. You can book tours geared towards bird watching or you can and take a look at the many villages to be found within the park.

Buses are available to the park from Hue and Da Nang.

Ba Vi

The park is located about 50km away from Hanoi and can be reached via the highway. Some the park is strictly for conservation, but visitors are welcome in other sections. There are a number of mountain slopes to be climbed, and the wonders to be seen aren’t just natural. There are also some manmade marvels to take in, such as the shrine that sits atop the summit of Tan Vien, one of the peaks of the Ba Vi range.

Further Reading


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