Vietnam's National Parks
Vietnam’s natural beauty is truly something out-of-this-world, yet most travelers only scratch the surface of it. Look beyond the magical landscapes of popular destinations like Halong Bay and Ninh Binh and discover a world rich with virgin forests, steep mountains, hidden caves, and lush valleys.
Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, culture lover, or just looking to get off the beaten path, these top 10 national parks located throughout Vietnam are the perfect remedy to an incurable case of wanderlust.
Number 10: Ba Vi National Park
Due to its location just 60 km west of Hanoi, Ba Vi National Park functions as a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi for locals, expatriates, and travelers alike. There is even an 11th century shrine built to Tan Vien Son Tinh, one of four legendary immortals in Vietnamese mythology and the god of the mountain at the summit of Tan Vien Peak, one of three mountains the park is centered around.
The French started a hill-station here in the late 19th century, so in addition to hiking trails through pine forests and thickets of wild sunflowers, there are a number of colonial ruins to investigate as well as a glass greenhouse filled with over 1200 types of cacti.
Ba Vi can be visited as a day-trip from Hanoi, but it’s much better to stay overnight at one of two lodges, Ba Vi Resort or Melia Ba Vi Mountain Retreat.
Number 9: Yok Don National Park
The largest national park in Vietnam can be found in central Vietnam, 60 km northwest of Buon Ma Thuot and reaching all the way to the Cambodian border. The region was incredibly famous for elephant taming in the past by indigenous tribes, most notably, the Mnong, who viewed the elephant as family and referred to them as sons, daughters, brothers and sisters. In the early 20th century, up to 30 wild elephants were tamed per year. Tragically, most of the Mnong were driven off the land in 1988 to create the park, which then fell prey to deforestation and illegal wildlife trade, meaning you’ll be hard-pressed to spot many animals in Yok Don these days.
That being said, there are still four ethnic minority villages existing within Yok Don National Park’s boundaries which offer unique cultural insights rarely experienced by travelers to Vietnam, such as cooking classes with a local Ede family, a scenic boat ride on the Srepock River, catch and release fishing, and of course trekking through the deciduous forest. It’s also possible to book guided day-treks and overnight camping treks with one of three English speaking guides. There is also a simple guesthouse at the entrance of the park.
Number 8: Bach Ma National Park
Often overlooked for the impressive UNESCO World heritage sites of Hue and Hoi An, rarely-visited Bach Ma National Park is an impressive array of lakes, waterfalls, mountains, and forests in the central region of Vietnam. Similar to many other national parks in Vietnam, Bach Ma got its start as a French hill-station in 1925, and little has changed since.
Staying overnight in abandoned French villas is just one of the quirky advantages of exploring this region, although don’t expect much luxury as the villas are truly “off the beaten path”. An estimated 65,000 tribal minorities live within the area, including a settlement called the Khe Su hamlet which can be visited during your stay.
Popular activities include trekking to Do Quyen waterfall, visiting Truc Lam Zen Monastery, swimming in five different jade-colored lakes fed by refreshing mountain streams and summiting Bach Ma Mountain at 1,450 meters where an impressive panoramic view of mountains, lagoons, villages, and the iconic Hai Van pass await.
Situated 60 km south of the ancient imperial capital of Hue, Bach Ma is a perfect trip for the whole family as a day-trip to get out into nature, or as a stop on the way from Hue to Hoi An to have a break and picnic lunch.