10 Best National Parks in Vietnam

How Many National Parks are in Vietnam?

Vietnam boasts 34 national parks, each offering unique natural beauty and biodiversity. The first national park, Cuc Phuong, was established in 1966 and spans across Ninh Binh, Thanh Hoa, and Hoa Binh provinces. The latest addition is Song Thanh National Park, established on December 18, 2020, in Quang Nam province. Phong Nha-Ke Bang is the largest national park, while Xuan Thuy National Park is the smallest.

From the mountains of the north to the sandy isles of the south, Vietnam’s national parks are a testament to the country’s stunning landscapes and rich ecosystems. Here are the 10 best national parks in Vietnam:

10 Best National Parks in Vietnam

1. Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park

Location: Quang Binh Province, 500km south of Hanoi and 215km north of Hue City.

Highlights: Often considered the most naturally stunning and well-preserved area in Vietnam, Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng is home to some of the world’s largest caves. The park covers nearly 900 square kilometers and shares a border with Laos’ Hin Namno Nature Reserve. It is a frequent stop for those traveling the Ho Chi Minh Highway. The park’s karst cave systems have earned it a spot on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Hundreds of miles of underground labyrinths run beneath towering limestone mountains. Gibbons and macaques roam the forests, adding to the park’s allure.

2. Phú Quốc National Park.

  • Location: Phu Quoc Island, Kien Giang Province, 390km south of Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Highlights: Nestled in the northwest corner of Phu Quoc Island, this park is home to over 1,000 plant species and 200 animal species. The park features rare old-growth forests and Dipterocarp trees that soar over 100 feet in height. Hiking and camping are popular activities, especially from Gành Dầu village. Phu Quoc National Park is a gem that contrasts with the island’s more developed areas, offering a sanctuary of natural beauty and biodiversity.

3. Ba Be National Park

  • Location: Ba Be District, Bac Kan Province, 238km from Hanoi.
  • Highlights: Ba Bể National Park is renowned for its ethnic minority communities, including the Tay, Dao, and Hmong. The park offers travelers the opportunity to experience life in traditional homestays. The landscape is dominated by towering limestone mountains that cascade into waterfalls before settling in Ba Bể Lake, Vietnam’s largest natural lake. Trekking in the park is superb, with many routes accessible through homestays or guesthouses. Boat tours on Ba Bể Lake reveal cavernous limestone grottos hidden along the water’s edge.

4. Cát Tiên National Park

  • Location: Tan Phu District, Dong Nai Province, 165km north of Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Highlights: As the closest national park to Ho Chi Minh City, Cát Tiên is an oft-overlooked gem. The lowland forests are the largest and most important in Vietnam, home to gibbons, deer, and wild boar. The park features extensive, well-maintained nature trails that can be explored without a guide, often by bicycle. An excellent variety of lodging options, from campsites to riverside bungalows, makes Cát Tiên a great escape from Saigon’s urban environment.

5. Cát Bà National Park

  • Location: Cat Ba Island, Hai Phong Province, 150km east of Hanoi.
  • Highlights: Floating in a sea of limestone peaks, Cát Bà is a focal point of the iconic Hạ Long Bay. The region resembles a scene from Jurassic Park, with jungles shooting skyward into the mist. The park offers several moderate treks and is home to most of the world’s remaining white-headed langurs. Its proximity to Hanoi makes it an accessible destination for northern excursions.

6. Núi Chúa National Park

  • Location: Ninh Phuoc District, Ninh Thuan Province, 410km north of Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Highlights: Situated on the eastern edge of the Annamite Mountains, Núi Chúa overlooks one of the cleanest and most well-preserved coastlines on the East Sea. The park is best visited by motorbike, offering scenic coastal roads. The arid park is home to bears, primates, bats, and birds. The shoreline is particularly important as it serves as a nesting ground for endangered turtle species.

7. Yok Đôn National Park

  • Location: Buon Don District, Dak Lak Province, 346km north of Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Highlights: Yok Đôn is Vietnam’s largest national park and home to some of the last wild elephants and leopards in the country. Despite the threats of poaching and illegal logging, the park retains an off-the-beaten-track feel and is seldom visited by foreign tourists. Guided day and overnight treks through the dry forests offer an immersive experience of the park’s natural beauty.

8. Cúc Phương National Park

  • Location: Nho Quan District, Ninh Binh Province, 130km south of Hanoi.
  • Highlights: As one of Vietnam’s most accessible parks, Cúc Phương is rich in flora and fauna, including endangered turtles. The park can be explored on foot, motorbike, or bicycle and is best visited over two or three days. Minority villages dot the park and can be visited on guided treks, providing a cultural dimension to the natural experience.

9. Côn Đảo National Park

  • Location: Con Dao Island, Ba Ria Vung Tau Province.
  • Highlights: Located 80 kilometers out into the East Sea, this pristine archipelago is reached by ferry or plane. The park encompasses some of Vietnam’s most untouched coral reefs and white sand beaches. Endangered sea turtles nest along the shorelines, and the strange and friendly dugong, a cousin of the manatee, can be found in the park’s clear waters.

10. Bạch Mã National Park

  • Location: Phu Loc District, Thua Thien Hue Province, 52km south of Hue City.
  • Highlights: Situated near the central coast of Vietnam, Bạch Mã is west of the imperial capital of Huế. The park features dilapidated French villas overrun by pine forests, with mile-high peaks floating in the distance. Bạch Mã is home to some of the densest and most pristine jungle ribbons in central Vietnam.

Discover Vietnam’s National Parks

These parks highlight Vietnam’s natural beauty, biodiversity, and cultural heritage. From majestic caves to lush jungles and serene beaches, each park offers unique experiences for nature lovers and adventurers alike. Make sure to explore these destinations for an unforgettable journey through Vietnam’s stunning landscapes. Whether you’re trekking through limestone mountains, kayaking through caves, or relaxing on pristine beaches, Vietnam’s national parks promise a memorable and enriching experience.

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