While Vietnam has historical cities, beach towns, and delicious foods, the country has many nature areas preserved as national parks. It’s serene to see the green forest areas surrounded by limestone caves, mountains, lakes, and wildlife.
How many national parks are located in Vietnam? There are 34 national parks scattered from North to South Vietnam.
In this post, we’ll share the 9 best national parks in Vietnam to add to your Vietnam itinerary.
We’ve been to a handful of national parks since we live in Vietnam. We love how each place is unique and offers a variety of hiking, outdoor activities, and beautiful sceneries. Plus, the national parks are not too crowded.
Before you read this post, check out our other Vietnam posts to help you with your planning:
- Things to Know Before Visiting Vietnam for Your First Visit
- Best Places to Visit in Vietnam
- Best Things to Do in Vietnam
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Helpful Tips Before Visiting Vietnam’s National Parks
- Pack appropriately. Depending on what activities you’ll do at these national parks, make sure that you pack enough stuff for your trip. Some of the places may be colder than expected so prepare for that too. Check out our post on what to pack for Vietnam here.
- Bring enough water. Many of these national parks do not have any potable water along the trail so you need to bring at least 1 liter of water per day. Consider using a reusable water bottle to save on plastic bottle usage.
- Do not litter and bring your trash with you. Littering is common in Vietnam. Since there isn’t a way to properly dispose of them on the mountains, please bring all trash with you. Let’s keep Vietnam’s national parks beautiful and clean.
- Have travel insurance before your visit. It’s recommended to be prepared with travel insurance in case something happens on your trip, especially if you’ll be trekking in a remote location.
Map of Vietnam’s National Park Locations
1. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
Established in 2001, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park (Vườn Quốc Gia Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng in Vietnamese), is a must-visit on any Vietnam itinerary. Located in Quang Binh Province in Central Vietnam, it’s the perfect spot for outdoor adventures.
Recognized as one of Vietnam’s iconic UNESCO World Heritage sites, Phong Kha-Ke Bang National Park is home to over 300 caves. The limestone caves of Phong Nha Cave and Paradise Cave are truly mesmerizing to explore.
Phong Nha has incredible hiking trails to wander through. These trails go to hidden caves that aren’t accessible from the main city, so hiring a tour operator is necessary. We recommend Oxalis Adventures or Jungle Boss. Consider hiking the bucket list Son Doong Cave, the largest cave in the world, or Hang En Cave, the third-largest cave in the world. We loved our time staying overnight in Hang En Cave.
Other outdoor adventures include kayaking along the Song Con River, wandering through the adventure obstacle courses, or checking out the waterfall at the Botanic Garden.
For more adventures, take a motorbike or ride a bicycle through the quiet area of Bong Lai Valley. Pass through farmlands and smaller towns to see a rural side of Phong Nha. Don’t forget to stop by the Original Pub with Cold Beer for cold drinks and delicious food. While grilled chicken is famous here, vegetarian food is also yummy.
Read our Phong Nha itinerary for more details.
2. Cat Tien National Park
If you’re staying in Ho Chi Minh City, then Cat Tien National Park (Vườn Quốc Gia Cát Tiên) is a fantastic weekend destination to surround yourself with nature and escape the concrete jungles of city life. It’ll take about 4-6 hours to get there by motorbike or bus from Ho Chi Minh City.
This is one of the larger national parks as it covers three provinces – Dong Nai, Lam Dong, and Binh Phuoc, so you’ll need a few days to explore the activities.
Despite its size, the area is quiet and has luscious forest areas everywhere. Walk through the forest area and see the tall Tung trees or take an all-day walk to the Crocodile Lake. You can also rent a bicycle and ride on the paved paths throughout the park. We suggest this option as you can travel farther distances than on foot.
Cat Tien National Park has some incredible wildlife such as birds, gibbons, deer, and wild pigs. Get up early in the morning to see the gibbons on a sunrise trek. Children and families will enjoy seeing the animals in their natural habitats on the Night Safari.
Another cool experience is to visit the Ta Lai Village and to meet the ethnic people of Ma, Stieng, and Tay and learn about the culture. The women make gorgeous weaved handicrafts such as handbags which are fantastic to buy as souvenirs.
There are plenty of guesthouses nearby the national park entrance, or you can consider camping in the park.
3. Con Dao National Park
Con Dao National Park (Vườn Quốc Gia Côn Đảo) is a top place to visit when spending a few relaxing days on the Con Dao Islands. This national park is located in southern Vietnam on Con Son Island, the largest island on Con Dao.
The best thing to do at Con Dao National Park is to drive around on a motorbike and stop by various areas to walk around through the forest area. There are some tall Heritage trees and unique trees with twisted roots and branches.
If you prefer to swim and relax, take a hike down to Ong Dung Beach and swim in the clear waters. As a heads up, this beach doesn’t have sand as it has rocks on the shoreline. Other beaches in the park which require some hiking include Ong Cau, Bang Beach, and Dai Beach.
Once you’re done exploring the national park, feel free to relax and explore the other beaches, eat the fresh seafood, and learn about the past history of Con Dao’s prison system. Check out our post on what to do on Con Dao Islands here.
To make your visit to Con Dao Island extra special, consider splurging with your accommodations and staying at Six Sense Resort.
4. Bidoup Nui Ba National Park
Located in the Central Highlands in the Lam Dong Province, Bidoup Nui Ba National Park (Vườn Quốc Gia Bidoup Núi Bà) is an off-the-beaten path spot to visit in Vietnam. Since it’s not one of the heavily visited national parks, you’ll enjoy the tranquility of the jungles and forest area to yourself!
With the staggering heights of Liangbiang mountain ranges – Bidoup (2,287 meters / 7,503 feet) and Nui Ba (2,167 meters / 2,167 feet), it’s highly recommended to join a hiking tour to explore this park.
You’ll need at least 2 days/1 night for this tour as it takes time to go up the steep mountain. The foliage is a bit wild so wearing gloves is handy. Once you reach the campsite, it’s a fun evening eating a BBQ meal and spending the night in a tent.
Check out our experience hiking Bidoup Nui Ba National Park here.
5. Bu Gia Map National Park
Bu Gia Map National Park (Vườn Quốc gia Bù Gia Mập) is a quieter national park in Binh Phuoc Province in South Vietnam.
Established in 2002, this national park is an exciting weekend escape from Ho Chi Minh City where visitors spend 2 days/1 night hiking through the forest, walking through the refreshing streams, and camping overnight next to a waterfall stream. Don’t worry, the food and tents are prepared for you!
This park has plenty of nature spots from the gorgeous wildflowers and green foliage. During the March-April time frame, beautiful butterflies flutter in the skies.
As a heads up, the only way to enter this National Park is with an official National Park tour guide. You’ll sign up with a local tour group and then the National Park tour guide will join you for the 2 days.
Check out our experience at Bu Gia Map National Park here.
6. Hoang Lien National Park
When visiting North Vietnam, stop by Hoang Lien National Park (Vườn Quốc Gia Hoàng Liên) on your next trip. The national park overlaps with two provinces – Lao Cai Province and Lai Chau Province. Sapa can be visited from Hanoi and is the nearest and most well-known place in Lao Cai Province.
Fansipan peak is located along the Hoang Lien Son mountain range. Since it’s considered the highest peak in Vietnam at 3,143 meters (10,312 feet), it may be cold and overcast at the peak.
Hiking to the top of Mount Fansipan can be done in one day, but it’s super challenging with the steepness. It’s recommended to take two days to climb up. Or, you can take the cable car and funicular from the main Sapa area.
Other things to do on your Sapa itinerary include trekking at least two days through the Muong Hoa Valley and walking through the areas of ethnic minorities of Hmong, Dao, Xa Pho, Tay, and Day people. You’ll love seeing the gorgeous rice fields and terraces along the way.
Related: Read our Sapa trekking guide for more details.
7. Cat Ba National Park
Located on Cat Ba Island of the Cat Ba Archipelago, Cat Ba National Park is the perfect place to explore the jawdropping landscapes, hike through the rain forest, see white-headed langurs, or relax in the Lan Ha Bay area. Established in 1986, it’s considered a less touristy area compared to other areas of Halong Bay.
Read more about Cat Ba Island on our Vietnam’s best islands post.
8. Cuc Phuong National Park
As the first national park established by Ho Chi Minh in 1965, Cuc Phuong National Park (Vườn Quốc Gia Cúc Phương) has the largest nature reserve in the country. Located in the provinces of Ninh Binh, Hoa Binh, and Thanh Hoa, this national park has many animals such as langurs, birds, and gibbons. There are a few conservation areas – Endangered Primates and Turtle Conservation Center.
Since you’re in a nature reserve, this place has gorgeous foliage and plants to see. Plus, there are many limestone mountains and caves to explore.
As you know, we love hiking. There are a few hiking trails that lead to old trees, caves, and through the Muong village, one of the ethnic minority groups living here. Or, you can consider renting a bicycle to ride along the paved roads and explore this park further.
9. Ba Be National Park
The Ba Be Lake is one of the main highlights of a visit as it’s the largest freshwater lake in Vietnam at 8 kilometers (5 miles) long. There are three areas to the lake that connect to each other. Many people take a boat ride along the river to witness its natural beauty.
Trekking in the jungle areas of this national park is possible and requires 2-4 days. You get the chance to visit ethnic minority villages, check out caves, and temples. There is also a small waterfall, Dau Dang, to check out.
If you want to extend your trip, consider spending a few days in Cao Bang, the neighboring province.
Which of these National Parks do you want to visit on your next trip to Vietnam? While you won’t be able to visit all of them on your first trip to Vietnam, at least you have a better idea of some future places to visit on a return trip. Have fun exploring!