1. Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park
  2. Ba Be National Park
  3. Bach Ma National Park
  4. Cuc Phuong National Park
  5. Phu Quoc National Park
  6. Cat Ba National Park
  7. Cat Tien National Park
  8. Tram Chim National Park

1. Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park

Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park

The Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2003, covered 85,754 hectares. With this extension, the site covers a total surface area of 123,326 hectares (a 46 % increase) and shares a boundary with the Hin Namno Nature Reserve in the Peoples Democratic Republic of Laos. The Park’s landscape is formed by limestone plateaux and tropical forests. It features great geological diversity and offers spectacular phenomena, including a large number of caves and underground rivers. The site harbours a high level of biodiversity and many endemic species. The extension ensures a more coherent ecosystem while providing additional protection to the catchment areas that are of vital importance for the integrity of limestone landscapes.

Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park

The significant geomorphic features of its karst landscape and cave system gave the UNESCO reason to add Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park to the World Heritage List in 2003 under criterion viii, arguing that it is a site of very great importance for increasing our understanding of the geologic, geomorphic and geo-chronological history of the region. Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park includes one of the world’s most impressive cave and grotto systems, with more than 100km of explored caves and grottos (as of 2012). Son Doong Cave was found the biggest cave in the world in 2010.

Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park

Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is one of the most spectacular wilderness sites in South East Asia and one of the 2 largest limestone regions in the world. Destined to become one of viet nam’s major tourist attractions, a vast network of underground caves and passages can be found, along with awesome jungle scenery and fascinating rock formations.

Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park

This beautiful and little explored region contains the world’s longest river cave, Hang Ke Ry and the world’s largest cave, Hang Son Doong. Hang Son Doon was discovered in 2009, explored in 2011 by a British caving team and now open to a limited number of tourist from 2014. Visit one of the wonders of Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, Paradise Cave, with its spectacular and magical beauty, opened to the public in December 2011.

Location: Quang Binh Province

Tips: Phong Nha Ke Bang Park is only a few kilometers away from Phong Nha Town, where you will find accommodation. Tours to the largest caves, including Son Doong need to be booked well in advance. While March and April are the best months to check out the park’s flourishing vegetation, the wet months of October to November are not recommended for visiting.

2. Ba Be National Park

Ba Be National Park

For a sightseeing tour of the northeast region, a fantastic place to start is Ba Be National Park in Ba Be District, Bac Kan Province. There is a huge amount to explore here, with a vast variety of flora and fauna - including many species of butterflies - as well as interesting geology and landscapes to discover.

One of the best ways to get a feel for the area on arrival is by boat on one of the three lakes - kayaks for the more adventurous or guided motor boat tours for those who want to relax a little. Ba Be National Park has featured in hundreds of newspapers, magazines, forums and blogs, but nothing can prepare you for experiencing its intoxicating landscapes and clear waters first hand. The lakes have a lot to offer, including waterfalls, rivers, valleys, lakes, and caves all set amidst picturesque landscapes. From Ba Be Lake, tourists can also visit other neighbouring attractions such as Dau Dang Fall, Puong Cave and Tien Pond.

Ba Be National Park

The lake itself is actually three small lakes joined together – Pe Lam, Pe Lu and Pe Leng. The area was established as a national preserved forest and tourist centre in 1978, before being established as Vietnam's eighth national park in 1992. It was recently recognised by UNESCO as the third Ramsar site in Vietnam - an important wetland of the world. Located 145m above sea level, the lake has an average depth of 20-25m and its deepest part is 35m. The lake bed is made up of limestone with millions of crags and crevasses that are ideal for a large variety of marine life - there are over a hundred of species of freshwater fish in the lakes.

Ba Be National Park

Ba Be Lake lies in the middle of the vast limestone mountain range of Ba Be National Park with large and small islands of limestone rising out of the water, many of which can be explored as you kayak around. There are also several caves to find, with beautiful rock formations that have developed over millions of years. Of those, a good example is Puong Cave, through which the Nang river runs under its magnificent limestone structures. It is 30 metres wide, and 300 metres deep with thousands of stalactite and stalagmite structures and a bat colony numbering tens of thousands. Its picturesque entrance lies to the north east of Ba Be Lake, in the hillside of the Lung Nham Range.

With further exploration of Ba Be National Park, tourists will also begin to discover some of the villages in the region. This is best done by joining one of many trekking tours which can be arranged, as they include a guide that will introduce you to the people of the various ethnic communities that are resident here. Bo Lu Village is a great example, and by visiting the village, tourists have a chance not only to admire old stilt houses but also to learn more about culture and daily life of Tay people.

Location: Ba Be District, Bac Kan Province, 240 kilometers north of Hanoi

Tips: The jungles of Ba Be are lush and green all year round, even when the chilly winters come. The best time in the year to visit Ba Be National Park is between November and January, when it’s nice and dry and not too cold.

3. Bach Ma National Park

Bach Ma National Park

Always bear in mind that Bach Ma National Park is not like going to any other tourist attractions. If you travel alone, you’d better bring along a map to locate the main path as well as the best significant spots.

Bach Ma National Park

Tigers and bears use to live in the jungles of the national park, but unfortunately they are not here any more. You can still find deer, and ninety other mammal species in these forests. They are accompanied by thirty species of reptiles. In addition, around twenty different frogs jumping around. But the Kingdom of birds rules over Bach Ma mountain peak is absolutely overwhelming. You don’t always see them as well because of the dens vegetation, but you hear them all the better. As many as 358 bird species flit through the forest here. That is more than a third of the total Vietnamese bird species.

Bach Ma National Park

Summit hike: There is a short and a long hike to the summit, depending on where you start. On the way you see some French villas an on the top of the summit you have stunning views of the complete national park.

Five Lakes Trail: This trail brings you to all the 5 lakes of Ngu Ho Lake, by following the stream. There are some beautiful waterfalls and if you want you can go swimming.

Rhododendron trail: This trekking trail brings you through the jungle from the 10 km mark and goes to the beautiful Do Quyen Waterfall. It is possible to go all the way down to the base of the waterfall.

Pheasant Trail: If you are a big bird lover then the Pheasant Trail is an absolute must. This pleasant 2.5-kilometer route runs along a number of rivers and lakes where, with a little luck, you will come across the extremely rare Crested Argus Pheasant and Edward’s Pheasant.

Bach Ma National Park

Location: Thua Thien Hue Province, 60 kilometers south of Hue 

Tips: It’s best to visit Bach Ma National Park from March to September. Avoid traveling in the rainy season from October to January.

4. Cuc Phuong National Park

Cuc Phuong National Park

Established in 1962, Cuc Phuong is the oldest national park in Vietnam. Located only 120km southwest of Hanoi and nestled between the provinces of Ninh Binh, Hoa Binh and Thanh Hoa, Cuc Phuong boasts an engaging cultural and wildlife heritage and enchanting scenery. Magnificent Limestone Mountains rise up majestically from the green rice-terraces and traditional stilt houses of the Muong hill-tribe. Covered in a dense forest, this landscape forms the habitat for some of Asia's rarest animal and plant species. It is no wonder that researchers, naturalists, enthusiasts and conservationists alike are drawn to this corner of the world.

Cuc Phuong National Park

The ancient forest harbours over 2234 vascular and non-vascular plants, 122 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 135 species of mammals, including the Clouded Leopard, Delacour's Langur, Owston's Civet and Asian Black Bear. There are also an incredible 336 documented bird species. Visitors in April and May should be blessed with the chance to see literally thousands of vibrant butterflies.

Cuc Phuong National Park

Located on 2 limestone mountain ranges, the landscape of Cuc Phuong contains a wonderfully rich ecosystem. The rocky outcrops of Cuc Phuong form the site of valuable pale ontological and anthropological vestiges, including a fossilized sea reptile dated at 200 - 230 million years old, while the remains of prehistoric people who lived in the forest some 7500 years ago are also to be found in the numerous mountain caves.

Cuc Phuong National Park

In earlier times, Cuc Phuong was home to the Muong minority people and to this day a few scattered villages around the park's periphery still house these interesting people and their unique culture. If you visit these communities you can still see their traditional stilt houses, waterwheels, bamboo rafts and brocade looms.

Cuc Phuong National Park

Location: Ninh Binh Province, 100 kilometers southwest of Hanoi

Tips: April and May are the best months to visit Cuc Phuong, if you wish to see legions of butterflies and can tolerate the soaring temperatures. If heat is not your thing, anytime in the year is good to see Cuc Phuong.

5. Phu Quoc National Park

Phu Quoc National Park

Phu Quoc National Park comprises more than half of Phu Quoc Island’s northern region, where adventurous travellers can enjoy a range of outdoor pursuits throughout their tropical vacation. Declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2010, this massive natural attraction spans over 314, 000 square metres of unique flora and fauna, evergreen forest, and dense mountain ranges.

Phu Quoc National Park

While the majority of Phu Quoc National Park is strictly protected by the Vietnamese government for research purposes, visitors can make their way to the Khu Rung Nguyen Sinh Forest Reserve via Ganh Dau Village as it’s accessible for camping, hiking, bird-watching, and photography. Nature lovers can also spot rare wildlife such as long-tailed macaques, silver langurs, slow lories, otters, and hornbills.

Phu Quoc National Park

If you’re looking to test out your endurance, Mount Heaven in Phu Quoc National Park is accessible within a challenging four-hour trek through the evergreen forest followed by a 10 metre-tall bamboo ladder. The highest peak in the national park is Mount Chua, which stands at 600 metres above sea level, but hiking trails and viewing platforms for the mountain are currently under construction.

Phu Quoc National Park

Located 26 kilometres north of Duong Dong, the best way to get to Phu Quoc National Park is by booking a day tour or renting a motorcycle. The roads leading towards Ganh Dau Village can rather bumpy, so only opt for the latter if you’re comfortable navigating through dirt roads.

Location: Phu Quoc Island

Tips: The dry season from November to March offers the best time to visit the island. Temperatures are between 25°C and 28°C, allowing for most outdoor activities.

6. Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba National Park was established in 1986, it covers some 17,362.96 ha, of which 10,912.51 ha are terrestrial ecosystems (islands) and 6,450.45 ha are marine ecosystems. The Park is situated in the Cat Ba Archipelago which consists of 366 islands. It is about 45 km east of Hai Phong City, 150km south - east of Ha Noi and borders with Ha Long Bay to the north. Cat Ba National Park is at the heart of the UNESCO Cat Ba Archipelago Biosphere Reserve and it shares the distinctive scenic beauty of the Ha Long Bay Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Park is also home to diverse range of terrestrial and marine life.

Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba National Park is a tourist attraction to millions of domestic and overseas visitors. Coming to the Park, travellers can enjoy the beauty of the vast landscapes and seascapes. Visitors can choose to relax on isolated beaches in Lan Ha Bay, trek through primeval tropical rain forest or mangrove forest, discover many unique animal and plant species, and immerse themselves in the local culture.

Cat Ba National Park

The most striking feature in the geomorphology of Cat Ba National Park is fully developed karst scenery; previously developing on land but invaded by sea and continuing to change over time. Cat Ba Archipelago is  a prime example of karst scenery with fenglin (cone karst) and fencong (tower karst) features which have been isolated and separated from one another by firths and valleys. The system of caves in the area is plentiful, diverse and complex, further research is required to better describe and understand the cave systems. Cat Ba has sufficient conditions to be listed as a Geo - Park. The combination of and numerous small islands gives the region a remarkably beautiful landscape with immense tourism potential.

Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba is rich in historical and archaeological values. Initial research has confirmed that Cat Ba Island has been populated by humans for many thousands of years. There are relics that show important milestones in progress of ancient human societies. Cat Ba Island used to be an ideal settlement for man right from the time it was still part of the continent (around 9,000 - 17,000 years ago).

There are also a lot of special traditional festivals across Cat Ba.

Location: Cat Ba Island, 30 kilometers east of Hai Phong

Tips: September to November are the best months to visit Cat Ba, with some risks of storms. May to July can be hot, but the view of clear blue skies and orange sunsets might be worth it.

7. Cat Tien National Park

Cat Tien National Park

Cat Tien National Park is estimated as the reserve of natural resources in Vietnam with lots of rare, specious and endemic genes of fauna and flora, as plentiful site for scientists, domestic and foreign tourists.

The natural area of Cat Tien National Park is 71.920ha wide including the South of Cat Tien (Dong Nai province) 39.627ha; Cat Loc (Lam Dong province) 27.850ha; the West of Cat Tien (Binh Phuoc province 4.4431-ha).

Cat Tien National Park

Cat Tien National Park is part of the wet tropical forest complex and one of the specious natural forests remaining in Vietnam. That is why this area is significant not only in Vietnam but in the world as well. The diversity of the Park has been recognized by WWF when this international organization selected the Park as one of 200 global ecological zones including the land and its water area with its wellknown biological diversity. In 2001 Cat Tien National Park has been listed by UNESCO as the 411th biosphere Reserve Zone in the world.

Cat Tien National Park

Cat Tien National Park is also specially significant to the socio-economy of the region as its ecosystem takes an active part in the control of flood, at the same time it is also forest protecting for the water source of Tri An Hydro electrical Power Plant, a freshwater source supplied for Dong Nai province, Ho Chi Minh city and Ba Ria - Vung Tau province.

Location: Lam Dong Province, 150 kilometers north of Ho Chi Minh City

Tips: Perched halfway between Ho Chi Minh City and Da Lat, Cat Tien National Park is easily accessible from both cities. The best time to visit the park is in its dry season, which is between December and July. The rainy season will bring about slippery grounds, making it hard to walk and climb around.

8. Tram Chim National Park

Tram Chim National Park

Tram Chim National Park in the Mekong Delta is the 2,000th Ramsar site, which is a wetland site designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. In the high-rise water season between August and November, the national park turns picturesque. The blue sky is reflected in the water and this vast blue is embellished by lotuses, lilies, and melaleuca flowers.

Tram Chim National Park

35 kilometers from Cao Lanh city, Dong Thap province, the 7,300-hectare Tram Chim National Park spans five communes and Tram Chim township. This is the habitat of 130 plants and 200 wetland birds, including white storks and mallards.  Eight years ago, Tram Chim National Park was recognized as the 2,000th Ramsar site, the fourth site in Vietnam to receive the honor.

Tram Chim National Park

In the dry season, between the 5th and the 12th lunar month, canoes glide through the canals, taking visitors around to admire the peaceful landscape of Tram Chim, where the grass fields and the breezes are soothing to one’s soul.

Tram Chim National Park

In January, when the alum content is high, the water is clear, and photosynthesis is strong, thin purple three-petal flowers cover the wavy waters of Tram Chim National Park.

Location: Dong Thap Province, 170 kilometers west of Ho Chi Minh City

Tips: The park is best seen in early morning and late afternoon, when the birds are most active. It’s best to check out Tram Chim during the dry season, which lasts from August to November.

As one of the greenest countries in Southeast Asia, Vietnam draws hordes of nature lovers to its stunning natural parks and nature reserves every year. While it’s a relaxing, soul-soothing experience to discover forests, mountains, caves and beaches, always remember to bring along insect repellents, sunscreens and wear nature-look clothes.

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