To date, nearly all the eleven sites designated for protection
as National Parks are forested areas. Each has particular
characteristics and unique species of flora and/or fauna,
as well as additional dimensions such as caves, cultural relicts,
and ethnic settlements within its boundary and/or buffer zone.
nationally from Hanoi, and managed locally by provincial departments,
they range in area from 7,300 hectares (Ba Vi, in Ha Tay Province,
close to Hanoi) to 58,200 hectares (Yok Don, in the Central
Highlands Dak Lak Province,). Nearly all have tourism potential,
but some are more advanced than others.
Phuong National Park (Ninh Binh Province, near Hanoi)
Established during the war in 1962, Cuc Phuong was Vietnam’s
first National Park. Its 22,000 hectares of dense forest is
bisected by an 18km metalled road running the length of the
has guest houses, homestays in a Muong ethnic village, and
many caves, some containing Neolithic remains. Among its rare
species, a small group of Delacourt’s languor lives deep in
the forest (the world’s entire population of a hundred or
so is entirely within northern Vietnam).
Puong is known for its extensive flora, including primeval
forest, vines, tree ferns and orchids, its varied populations
of primates, and its many bird species. In the spring, dense
clouds of butterflies mass in patches of sunlight. A particular
feature of the Park is a large Endangered Primate Rescue Centre.
Orphans and injured primates are accommodated prior to their
phased reintroduction to the wild. Visitors can see examples
of Delacourt’s Langour, and the even rarer Cat Ba Langour.
Don National Park, about 40km from Buon Ma Thuot in the Central
Yok Don extends to the Serepok River, the border with Cambodia.
It is mainly a dry forest ecosystem with 464 flora and 311
fauna species identified as rare and endemic in Vietnam’s
‘Red Book’ of threatened species. It is populated by 17 ethnic
groups, mainly M’nong people who hunt, capture and domesticate
forest elephants. A new road has made access easier: limited
accommodation is available.
Chim National Park, Dong Thap Province, near Cao Lanh on the
Tram Chim bird sanctuary is 7,600 hectares of wetlands with
a diversity of surface and semi-submerged plants, and surface
and riverbed animals. However, its birds are its main feature.
Over 200 resident and migratory species have been identified,
a quarter of the total number in Vietnam. The most famous
are the rare ‘Red-headed Cranes’ land feeding large birds
that migrate between Vietnam and Cambodia depending upon the
water level. Accommodation is available nearby.
Ma National Park, Thua Thien Hue Province, near Hue
Bach Ma was originally a French hill-station, 1,200m above
sea level, but only 20km inland from the beach at Canh Duong.
A US stronghold during the war, the buildings now lay in ruins
(a couple have been restored to provide accommodation). The
surveyed areas of the 22,000 hectares of evergreen forest
have yielded over a thousand plant species (estimated to be
under a half of the total) and over three hundred bird species.
In 1996, evidence of a hitherto unknown wild ox, the Sao La,
was discovered in the park.
Ma is among the best managed of Vietnam’s National Parks and
has a reputation for good ecological practice. There are several
nature trails, as well as waterfalls and pools suitable for
swimming, and the views are stunning. There is accommodation
in the park and camping facilities near the gate. The park
is best avoided during rainy October and November, when large
numbers of leeches emerge. February to September is better.
For visitors interested in nature based tours, holidays or
activities, Haivenu can supply further details of these, and
the other National Parks. Many of the protected forest and
mountain areas, bird sanctuaries and other natural reserves
in Vietnam are also worth visiting – we will be happy to supply
information as needed.