Protecting the environment
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.
Administered nationally Hanoi, and managed locally by provincial departments, they range in area 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.
Cuc 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 reserve.
It 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). Cuc 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.
Yok Don National Park, about 40km Buon Ma Thuot in the Central Highlands
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.
Tram Chim National Park, Dong Thap Province, near Cao Lanh on the Mekong Delta
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.
Bach 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 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.
Bach 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.
Visiting National Parks
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.