Northern Vietnam getaway: Cat Ba National Park

The northern part of Vietnam is undoubtedly an ideal destination for Vietnam travel as it has everything to offer, from the marvelous mountainous northwest, the fertile Red River delta – Vietnam’s second largest delta, and the so-called “beach heaven” northeast with pristine beaches and majestic limestone islets.

The North also possesses priceless culture, which is the result of thousands of years of civilization and integration. Numerous flocks of both domestic and international travelers have taken North Vietnam group tours to conquer the beauty of this land. Considering the northeast part, Cat Ba Island is perhaps one of the best choices to travel.

Cat Ba Island from above

Cat Ba Island from above

Cat Ba is an about 260 square kilometer large island nestled on the southeastern edge of the worldwide famous Halong Bay, which has been voted as one of the new Seven Wonder of the World. Talking about this island, people always think of the exceptionally stunning beaches and ocean which maintain the wonderful features of Halong Bay first, and then its fresh seafood. Regretfully, many do not acknowledge about Cat Ba National Park – another huge attraction of this island. The Park is the very first marine protected area of Vietnam including 3 subdivisions: terrestrial forest ecosystem, marine ecosystem, and mangrove ecosystem. With such this biodiversity, Cat Ba National Park is undeniably a must-stop destination for North Vietnam group tours.

Mangrove forest in Cat Ba

Mangrove forest in Cat Ba

The National Park provides natural habitats for various species of flora and fauna, many of which are rare plants and animals needing to be rigorously protected. Tri Ly, Lat Hoa, Lim Set, Gie Hoa, and Kim Giao are the most precious wood trees in the jungle. Especially, Kim Giao wood is believed to be the materials to make chopsticks for the King, as it would bubble and turn into red when touching poisonous foods. Regarding animals, the Park provides habitats for several species of primate, consisting of most of 65 remaining golden-headed langur, which is the most endangered mammal in the world. Additionally, it is also home to different types of birds, reptiles, and amphibians that are listed in the World’s Red Book. The white-faced monkeys (locals call it “Vooc”) can only be found in this area. Cat Ba Park has recently been designated as a World Biosphere Reserve thanks to its significance in protecting the wildlife.

“Vooc” Cat Ba

“Vooc” Cat Ba

Vietnam tours to Cat Ba should never miss visiting the National Park. It would be a great experience to go trekking around the jungle to see the wilderness of its animals, plants, diverse natural habitats, and its panoramic view. Paying just 40,000 VND (nearly $2) for an entrance ticket to Kim Giao Forest, trekker will go up rugged routes to reach Ngu Lam Peak, which is the highest summit in the area. On your way, you will come across small streams, see various kinds of plants and animals, and smell the aroma from the flowers in the forest. There are also 2 viewpoints in the Park, from which you can take a panoramic view over the whole spectacular region.

The National Park from above

The National Park from above

The route to the top would be extremely tiring. It requires a strong physical condition, full preparation of necessary items (torch, raincoat, provisions, etc.), and especially, dogged determination. It is not the high altitude or the long route but the humidity that makes trekking and hiking in the Park a tough task. It may be very slippery, thus requiring you to be scrupulously careful when hiking. Also, remember to bring along lots of fresh water to stay hydrated.  Hard as it may be, the view you get from the peak make it all worthwhile. And don’t forget to bring along a high-end smartphone or camera to record all these majestic things. The National Park, hence, cannot be a better destination for North Vietnam group tours.

As it would be quite hard to travel around the Park, it would be better to hire a local guide. Google maps and GPS are not helpful in this scenario. Also, there are not many guide boards on the way that help either.

Naturally gifted with pristine beaches, turquoise sea dotted with marvelous limestone islets, and diverse bio-ecosystems, Cat Ba Island offers different experiences which are suitable for all ages. Undoubtedly, the island would be a perfect choice for a group tour in northern Vietnam.