Exploring The North: 7 Captivating National Parks In Vietnam

Vietnam is not just famous for its city hotspots and tourist hubs but also offers breathtaking landscapes, vibrant cultures, and a deep connection to nature. As you explore this stunning country, you will discover a collection of national parks that invite you to venture into where emerald forests meet limestone karsts, ancient traditions blend with the rhythms of wildlife, and the lush embrace of nature surrounds your every step!

Welcome to our guide, where we will introduce you to Vietnam’s top national parks in Northern Vietnam – the home to several beautiful national parks that offer stunning natural landscapes and opportunities for outdoor adventure. These protected areas are not just for show – they offer you a chance to immerse yourself in Vietnam’s natural beauty. So, if you’re an adventurous and nature-loving traveler, this guide is for learning, exploring, and planning your adventure in Northern Vietnam.

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Landscape, north west, rice field. Photo by Tran Tuan Viet

How Many National Parks Are There In Vietnam?

Distribution of the thirty national parks Vietnam Source Adapted to IUCN and UNEPWCMC - Exploring The North: 7 Captivating National Parks In Vietnam
Distribution of the thirty national parks, Vietnam. Source: Adapted to… | Download Scientific Diagram

Vietnam has over 30 national parks, which testify to its commitment to conserving its natural heritage. Despite facing the challenges of war, urbanization, logging, and illegal hunting, these parks have managed to preserve the habitats of magnificent creatures such as elephants, tigers, and smaller primates. Their story of resilience and conservation inspires all who value the importance of protecting our natural world.

History & Evolution

Vietnam took a significant step towards preserving its unique biodiversity by designating Cuc Phuong as its first national park in 1960. This was done despite the Vietnam War’s turmoil. President Ho Chi Minh was instrumental in this decision, which marked the beginning of a journey toward protecting Vietnam’s pristine ecosystems.

Vietnam’s national parks are now vigilantly protected sanctuaries and rejuvenated by dedicated conservationists and rangers. These parks also include endangered rescue centers, where animals once unlawfully captured or confined as exotic pets are given a second chance at life in the wild. It is a heartening reminder that the story of Vietnam’s national parks goes beyond natural beauty. It is a collective effort to ensure that the wild creatures and unique ecosystems that inhabit these parks continue to thrive for generations.

Significant National Parks In Vietnam

Here are some of the best national parks and nature reserves in each region.

  • Northern Vietnam: Cat Ba National Park, Ba Be National Park, Cuc Phuong National Park, Pu Luong Nature Reserve.
  • Central Vietnam (home to the world’s most extensive caves and the country’s most thunderous waterfalls): Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Vu Quang National Park, Nui Ba National Park, Bach Ma National Park, Pu Mat National Park, Yok Don National Park (the largest national park)
  • South Vietnam (home to mangrove forests and exotic wildlife live): Phu Quoc National Park, Cat Tien National Park, Con Dao National Park, Tram Chim National Park

Top National Parks In Northern Vietnam

Vietnam is a large and vast country in Southeast Asia, and if you’re an enthusiast of nature, exploring the national parks in the Northern region is a must. These protected havens offer a glimpse into diverse landscapes where you can discover tranquil lakes, dense forests, and dramatic mountains. In this article, we will take you on a journey through the top pristine national parks in North Vietnam, unveiling their breathtaking sceneries, fascinating histories, and cultural richness.

1. Ba Be National Park

Ba Be Lake Photo by Morgan Baudusseau - Exploring The North: 7 Captivating National Parks In Vietnam
Ba Be Lake – Photo by Morgan Baudusseau

This natural attraction is found in Bac Kan Province – in the mountainous midlands of northeast Vietnam. Its terrain has the highest altitude among the 11 provinces of the region and is known for its natural beauty, pristine lakes, lush forests, and limestone karst landscapes. Ba Be Lake, Vietnam’s largest natural freshwater lake, offers a great setting for trekking, boating, and wildlife watching.

Ba Be National Park is also home to rare and elusive François’ langur, a captivating primate known for its striking appearance. The park reflects Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage, with the Tay, Dao, and Hmong communities living there for generations. Visiting their villages offers a unique opportunity to learn about their traditions.

Ba Be Lake Photo by Bao Bac Kan - Exploring The North: 7 Captivating National Parks In Vietnam
Ba Be Lake – Photo by Báo Bắc Kạn

Attractions: Trekking, Boating, Wildlife, Ba Be Lake

Established: 1992

Hotline: 0985 873 537

Address: Bo Lu, Ba Be District, Bac Kan Province, North Vietnam

Get there: You can reach Ba Be National Park by taking a bus or driving from Hanoi, which takes around 5-6 hours.

2. Cuc Phuong National Park – The Oldest National Park

Cuc Phuong remains as Asias Leading National Park. Photo by Nhung Nhung - Exploring The North: 7 Captivating National Parks In Vietnam
Cuc Phuong remains as Asia’s Leading National Park. Photo by Nhung Nhung

Cuc Phuong National Park, located in Ninh Binh Province, is a mesmerizing combination of natural beauty and human heritage. This national park is one of Vietnam’s oldest and is celebrated for its diverse flora and fauna. Visitors can revel in the park’s hiking trails, visit the Endangered Primate Rescue Center, and witness ancient trees. Additionally, one can delve into the local Muong people’s vibrant traditions, enriching the experience.

Cuc Phuong National Park is a biodiverse sanctuary for endangered primates like the Delacour’s langur, black crested gibbon, and silvered langur. Visit to discover the traditions of the Muong people and support the conservation efforts of the Endangered Primate Rescue Center and Turtle Conservation Center.

Cuc Phuong National Park Vietnam Dirt Bike Tours Motorbike Rentals. Photo by ADV Motorcycle Tours - Exploring The North: 7 Captivating National Parks In Vietnam
Cuc Phuong National Park – Vietnam Dirt Bike Tours & Motorbike Rentals. Photo by ADV Motorcycle Tours

Attractions: Biodiversity, Animals, Culture

Established: 1962

Hotline: 0229 3848 006

Address: Nho Quan District, Ninh Binh Province, North Vietnam

Get there: The park is accessible by both car and bus from Hanoi, taking about 2-3 hours of travel time.

3. Cat Ba National Park

national parks in vietnam
Cat Ba among top 11 national parks in the world | Tourism – Culture | Hai Phong news. Photo by Asian Way Travel

Cat Ba National Park is in Ha Long Bay, where you can experience the perfect combination of lush forests, karst formations, and coastal scenery. Apart from trekking and hiking, there are boat trips around the bay that you can enjoy, and you can indulge in the Ngu Lam Peak Trail’s breathtaking panoramas of the emerald waters. The park is a unique blend of lush forests, karst formations, and coastal scenery, and it is home to the Cat Ba Langur.

Adventure seekers must visit this park as it offers trekking, hiking, and boat trips around the bay. The Ngu Lam Peak Trail provides breathtaking panoramas of the emerald waters. Beyond hiking, Cat Ba Island offers a variety of exploration options. You can bask in the pristine beaches, paddle through hidden coves to discover secret lagoons and limestone arches and relish the bounty of fresh seafood in the local fishing villages. Whether you are here for the trails, waves, sights, or bites, Cat Ba National Park and Cat Ba Island are an extraordinary blend of natural wonders, enticing you to explore their hidden treasures.

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Cat Ba National Park – Weather, How to Get & Things to Do. Photo by Eirik Skarstein

Attractions: Hiking, Kayaking, Wildlife Spotting, Rock climbing on limestone karsts, Serene beaches, Birdwatching, and Cave Exploration.

Established: 1986

Hotline: 0225 3688 981

Address: Cat Hat District, Hai Phong Province, North Vietnam

Get there: You can reach Cat Ba Island by taking a ferry from Hai Phong, which usually takes around 45 minutes.

4. Pu Luong Nature Reserve

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Waterfall bathing, hunting clouds, watching the water fall. Photo by Vietnam.vn

Pu Luong Nature Reserve, located near Hanoi, is known for its terraced rice fields, dense forests, and traditional villages. Visitors can engage in activities such as trekking and immersing themselves in the rich culture of the ethnic Thai and Muong communities. The land is meticulously tended by the local ethnic communities and offers a unique agricultural story.

Visitors can enjoy a beautiful and culturally rich experience in Pu Luong Nature Reserve. The Thai and Muong people, who are the custodians of this region, are extremely welcoming to visitors who wish to learn about their heritage. During your homestay, you will experience their warm hospitality and enjoy local delicacies. You can also engage in activities like bamboo weaving and traditional dances to immerse yourself in their customs and gain a deep understanding of the communities that have thrived in this region for generations. As you explore the area, you will encounter remnants of history, such as ancient stilt houses and tribal relics scattered across the landscape. These moments of connection and insight will stay with you long after you say goodbye to this fascinating place!

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Pu Luong Nature Reserve Is A Great Destination For Nature Lovers | blogs | Vietnam adventure tour. Photo by Global Open Tour

Attractions: Trekking, Cultural Experience, Terraced Fields

Hotline: 0911 258 272

Address: Co Lung, Ba Thuoc District, Thanh Hoa Province, North Vietnam

Get there: The reserve is reachable by car or bus from Hanoi, taking approximately 4-5 hours.

5. Tam Dao National Park

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Photo by ChuduInfo

Tam Dao National Park, located in the Tam Dao mountain range, is a short distance from Hanoi. It offers cooler temperatures and beautiful scenery, making it an ideal destination for hiking and birdwatching. The town of Tam Dao itself is a pleasant getaway from the city, where you can escape the hustle and bustle of Hanoi. With winding trails, hidden oases, and over 240 bird species, the park offers the perfect opportunity to reconnect with nature and enjoy stunning mountain range views.

Apart from being a beautiful natural wonder, Tam Dao National Park is also a significant historical site in Vietnam. During the French colonial era, it was a popular hill station and a refuge from the oppressive heat of the lowlands. Today, the park still holds remnants of that time in colonial villas that serve as a testament to its past. As you explore the park and enjoy its serene atmosphere, take a moment to appreciate the rich history woven into the lush landscape. Tam Dao National Park is a perfect blend of past and present, nature and culture, where you can breathe in the cool mountain air, observe captivating birdlife, and immerse yourself in the echoes of history.

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Tam Dao National Park, Vinh Phuc – Wild Experience Nearby Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress

Attractions: Hiking, Birdwatching, Scenic Views

Established: 1996

Hotline: 0211 3824 566

Address: Dao Tru, Tam Dao District, Vinh Phuc Province, North Vietnam

Get there: You can access Tam Dao National Park by car or bus from Hanoi, with a travel time of about 2-3 hours.

6. Bai Tu Long National Park: Ha Long Bay’s Tranquil Neighbor

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The Best 10 Bai Tu Long Bay Travel Guide & Things To Do | ORIGIN VIETNAM

Bai Tu Long Bay, located northeast of Ha Long Bay, offers a quieter and serene alternative to the more famous destination. It boasts stunning karst formations, emerald waters, and opportunities for kayaking, cruising, and exploring caves. The hidden caves and small islands beckon exploration, while the white sand beaches and emerald waters provide a canvas for your adventures. This off-the-beaten-path paradise offers undisturbed natural beauty often overshadowed by busier tourist destinations.

Bai Tu Long Bay National Park promotes eco-tourism to protect the pristine environment of Ha Long Bay’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can contribute to preserving this natural gem for future generations.

Attractions: Kayaking, Cave Exploration, Scenic Views

Established: 2001 Hotline: 0203 3793 365

Address: Ha Long, Van Don District, Quang Ninh Province, North Vietnam

Get there: You can reach Bai Tu Long Bay by various means, including bus or private car, and then a boat transfer from Halong City, which typically takes around 4 hours.

7. Hoang Lien National Park: Where the Roof of Indochina Beckons

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Hoang Lien National Park, Vietnam | For Instants

Hoang Lien National Park in Lao Cai province is a paradise for adventurers. It is home to Fansipan, the highest peak in Indochina, and boasts diverse flora and fauna. Trekking to the summit of Fansipan is a popular activity for those seeking a challenge. Visitors can also learn about the Hmong and Dao communities and witness their traditions and colorful festivals. The journey to the summit is challenging but the view is worth it. It’s a place to reach new heights and discover the heart of different cultures.

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Photo by Ian Teh

Attractions: Trekking, Flora and Fauna, Adventure

Established: 2002

Address: Lao Cai Province, North Vietnam

Get there: You can access Hoang Lien National Park by taking a train or bus to Lao Cai City, followed by a drive to Sapa, which takes approximately 1 hour. From Sapa, you can join guided tours to explore the park.

Ready For Your Trip To The North To Discover Some Of The Best National Parks In Vietnam?

As we come to the end of this journey, it’s important to remember that Northern Vietnam’s national parks are full of captivating stories that are just waiting to be discovered. When planning your next adventure, consider making these national parks your destination. They serve as gateways to Vietnam’s rich natural and cultural heritage. With its breathtaking national parks, Vietnam eagerly awaits every adventurous spirit that’s ready to embark on this incredible journey.

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Written by Lauren Tracy
Content Ambassador - Vietnam Is Awesome
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Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, Lauren has been living in Vietnam for the past 8 years. Her passion for the travel industry and wealth of experience has led her to become the Content Ambassador at Vietnam Is Awesome.