Vietnam

Top 7 Most Interesting National Parks in Vietnam

Vietnam has 34 national parks scattered across the country and on island archipelagos. Some are large enough to span across a number of provinces. They all offer one of the most attractive features of traveling in Vietnam— unforgettable natural scenery.

  1. Cuc Phuong National Park
  2. Cat Tien National Park
  3. Ba Vi National Park
  4. Bach Ma National Park
  5. Cat Ba National Park
  6. Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park
  7. Con Dao National Park

The Prestige and Status of Vietnamese National Parks

Nine of Vietnamese national parks are ASEAN Heritage Parks and seven more belong in the Ramsar Convention as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar). One of them is a Natural UNESCO World Heritage Site, one is inside a Natural UNESCO World Heritage Site, and eight of them are the focal points for UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.

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Cuc Phuong National Park in Ninh Binh

Wildlife spotting in Cuc Phuong National Park
[ image from Facebook ]

Cuc Phuong National Park (Vườn quốc gia Cúc Phương) was the first park to be established in Vietnam and is about 55 km from the center of Ninh Binh city. One of the most biodiverse parks, it covers 250 km2 with all sorts of activities to be enjoyed in nature.

Along Cuc Phuong’s hiking and trekking routes, you can also go cycling, kayaking, and do animal spotting. The park also has equipment for rent, including for day camping or overnight.

Discover more about the Cuc Phuong National Park

Cat Tien National Park near Ho Chi Minh City

Cat Tien National Park
[ by Đinh Sỹ Đạt from Cat Tien National Park ]

Cat Tien National Park (Vườn quốc gia Cát Tiên) is often overlooked, but it’s the closest national park to Ho Chi Minh City, only 150 km away. Cat Tien UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is home to the rare and endangered Siamese crocodile. It also has an abundance of deer, gibbon, and wild boar.

In its lowland forests, the trails are paved well enough to be done mostly without a guide. You can also experience local culture in homestays of the local S’tieng and Ma ethnic people. There are other more luxurious accommodations and you can rent mountain bikes at the park.

Discover more about the Cat Tien National Park

Ba Vi National Park in Hanoi

Ba Vi National Park
[ image from vntrip.vn ]

Ba Vi National Park (Vườn quốc gia Ba Vì) is a popular Summer getaway 60 km from Hanoi. Its trails are extensive, and ideal for an out-of-city hiking experience. Some trails are quite far apart and require transportation.

Ba Vi’s cactus garden and the ruins of an old French church are favorite camping, picnic, and photo spots for younger people. There are also hotels, inns, and resorts along the main road.

Discover more about Ba Vi National Park

Bach Ma National Park in Hue

Bach Ma National Park
[ by Rennett Stowe from Visualhunt ]

Bach Ma National Park (Vườn quốc gia Bạch Mã), just 48 km south of the historic city  of Hue, is a fine addition to the old citadel. The hikes are fairly short and easy with drop-off points along the roads using park shuttles.

You can choose to conquer the tallest mountain in the park for its panoramic views, or trek to the meeting point of 5 Lakes for an alternative adventure. There are forest pools along the way for refreshing dips and some rest.

Discover more about Bach Ma National Park

Cat Ba National Park near Ha Long Bay

Cat Ba National Park
Cat Ba National Park on Cat Ba Island
[ by Cyrille Lemoing from Flickr ]

Cat Ba National Park (Vườn quốc gia Cát Bà) belongs in the Cat Ba UNESCO Biosphere Reserve where you can see the endemic and endangered Cat Ba Langur. It’s on Cat Ba Island— a great middle-ground to Ha Long Bay only 25 km away.

The hikes can lead you to a hospital cave during the American War or the top of the tallest mountain on the island. The most popular trekking route will have you ride a boat or kayak across a lake to a fishing village.

Discover more about Ha Long Bay

Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park

Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park
[ by Phong Nha Cave from Facebook ]

Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park (Vườn quốc gia Phong Nha – Kẻ Bàng) is a World Heritage Site with some of the best caving in Vietnam. It’s a popular destination for people visiting Hue, Danang, or Hoi An, but there’s also the easy access point of Dong Hoi Airport.

With 400 million years of karst formations, Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is home to amazing spectacles like Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Cave, and Son Doong Cave. In addition, you can visit the park’s botanic gardens, do some wildlife spotting, and relax in refreshing streams and springs.

Discover more about Paradise Cave

Discover more about Phong Nha Cave

Con Dao National Park on Con Dao Island

Con Dao National Park
[ image from Vietnam Coracle ]

Con Dao National Park (Vườn quốc gia Côn Đảo) and its trails make it easy to explore the exotic beauty of Con Dao Island. The island is 250 km away from Ho Chi Minh City but it’s only less than an hour by plane or two and a half hours if you fly from Hanoi.

The hikes in the park lead through spell-bounding forests to pristine beaches. You can also go on eco-tours to watch sea turtles lay eggs or help release baby turtles into the sea. Con Dao Island was previously a notorious prison island.

Discover more about Con Dao National Park

3 Honorable Mentions

The honorable mentions are a little bit further away from the big cities but also have their own to bring to the table.

Phu Quoc National Park on Phu Quoc Island

Phu Quoc National Park
[ by Sdiscotrip – Phu Quoc from Facebook ]

Phu Quoc National Park (Vườn quốc gia Phú Quốc) has an abundance of nature trailing and there’s no entrance fee. It’s also recognized as a part of the Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve.

The park covers 70% of Phu Quoc Island which is included in the Mekong Delta Biosphere. Locals and visitors like to get on a motorbike and follow the roads on Google Maps. There are some springs to cool off and a mountain top for a physical challenge.

Discover more about Phu Quoc Island

Tram Chim National Park in the Mekong Delta

Tram Chim National Park
[ image from Facebook ] 

Tram Chim National Park (Vườn quốc gia Tràm Chim) is a Ramsar Site to the North of the Mekong Delta, around 145 km or three and a half hours of driving away from Ho Chi Minh City. From February to May, while paddling through the lotuses, you may see the Sarus Crane on the IUCN Red List.

Discover more about Mekong Delta and Tram Chim National Park

Ba Be National Park near Hanoi

Ba Be National Park near Hanoi
[ by MeadowZ from Unsplash ]

Ba Be National Park (Vườn quốc gia Ba Bể) is another Summer getaway for people in Hanoi. It’s an ASEAN Heritage Park and a Ramsar Site 220 km or roughly 5 hours away from the center of Hanoi in Bac Kan Province (tỉnh Bắc Kạn).

Ba Be National Park is usually referred to as Ba Be Lake which is at the center of the park. Tours may include trekking the forest to karst caves, a waterfall, ethnic villages of the Dao, Hmong, and Tay. Local meals, homestays, and boat rides on Ba Be Lake are also popular.

The park has one to three days tours with pick-ups in Hanoi and a short stop at Thai Nguyen City. You can take a private shuttle bus straight from Hanoi, but from Sapa or Ha Giang it requires multiple bus changes.

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