Just a short drive from Hanoi, visitors will find the Ba Vi National Park. Often overlooked by foreign tourists, and nicknamed “Hanoi’s Lung”, the park tends to be more popular with locals. With three mountain peaks and verdant forests, Ba Vi is worth adding to your Vietnam itinerary.
Setup more like an adventure park, Ba Vi is 38 miles (61.4 kilometers) outside of Hanoi, taking less than 2 hours to reach when driving. Notable in size, the national park protects 26,720 acres of Vietnam’s tropical and subtropical rainforests.
Unlike Vietnam’s more remote national parks, Ba Vi has everything that tourists need to enjoy a vacation away from the bustling capital city. Instead of traveling to a nearby village or town, tourists can head directly to Ba Vi and stay overnight inside of the park. There are multiple resorts and campsites available in Ba Vi for park guests.
Established as a national park in 1991, Ba Vi was originally a hill station made by French colonizers. Captivated by the beautiful land, the French turned Ba Vi and its surrounding area into a resort destination. Ruins of old French villas are often found throughout the national park.
For locals, Ba Vi is an important place not only because of its history but also its spiritual significance. Local myths believe that Tien Van Peak, one of the park’s three mountains, is the home of Son Tinh – the Mountain God. A shrine built in the 11th century still stands at the top of the peak today.
Aside from the shrines, there are a few large temples in Ba Vi National Park. These temples are just another reminder of Vietnam’s spirituality and culture. Preserved within the park, some temples are open to visitors.
What to Do
From natural to manmade, Ba Vi National Park is teeming with attractions. Tourists can relax at the park’s resorts or challenge themselves to a grueling hike. With activities suitable for all ages, Ba Vi makes it fun to explore Vietnam’s incredible terrain.
Finding accommodations is easy in Ba Vi. There are nearly 100 resorts and retreats in the national park and its surrounding area. While resorts are epic in proportion and styled to look like a Vietnamese palace, other places resemble a small village and are designed to function as a traditional homestay.
No matter which resort you choose, comfort is guaranteed. Some of the resorts have their own attractions, which include spas and outdoor pools. Mud baths and hot springs are popular highlights, so travelers can spend some relaxing time in nature.
Visit the Temples
Thuong and Uncle Ho are Ba Vi’s two most visited temples. Both the temples are inside the park and open for visitors. However, the Uncle Ho Temple is easier to access than the Thuong Temple.
Situated on top of Ba Vi Mountain, the Uncle Ho Temple provides amazing views of the landscape below. There are a few steps to reach the very top of Uncle Ho, but otherwise, the area has paved paths and quiet gardens.
Significant to Vietnam, the temple honors Uncle Ho who was better known as President Ho Chi Minh. Ruling from 1890-1969, President Ho Chi Minh is known for liberating Vietnam from the French and American colonies. After liberation, the president pushed for a united Vietnam.
Different from Uncle Ho, Thuong Temple honors a god instead of a man. Worshipping the Mountain God, Son Tinh, the temple is at the top of Tan Vien Mountain. Reaching the temple is quite difficult as guests must climb more than 500 steps to reach the top.
A daunting task, many conquer the steps so that they can see the view. Often blanketed in clouds, the top of Thuong Temple feels otherworldly; a suitable feeling for such a spiritual place.
Ba Vi National Park’s outstanding feature is the three aligned peaks. Dinh Vua, Tan Vien, and Ngoc Hoa form a natural crest, which is often obscured by the clouds.
All three standing over 3,280 feet (1,000 meters), Dinh Vua is the tallest peak, followed by Tan Vien and Ngoc Hoa. With the Thuong Temple at the top, Tan Vien Peak is most frequently summited by trekkers. In addition to Tan Vien, King’s Peak is another hotspot for hikers in Ba Vi and it has its own temple.
Trekking Through Ba Vi
Mountains aren’t the park’s only feature, as there are dozens of other paths that are suitable for trekking and less strenuous. Making their way between the mountains and traversing through gentle slopes, there are plenty of trails for less experienced hikers or families with young children.
From French ruins to rare wildlife, trekking through Ba Vi National Park is the best way to see the land. On clearly marked paths, visitors can trek solo. Meanwhile, for those who want to climb a mountain or see remote areas of Ba Vi, it is encouraged that you hire a local guide.
Keep in mind that many tours will often provide their own guides. For hikers who have not booked a tour, local guides can often be found to help people navigate through the forests and carry additional gear. Visitors looking can check with their hotel for reputable references.
Thien Son Waterfall and Park
Almost like a park within a park, the Thien Son Waterfall area has been turned into a hit tourist attraction. Featuring the waterfall, lakes, and a waterpark, the Thien Son-Suoi Nga tourist area is a favorite destination amongst Ba Vi’s visitors.
Guests can swim, fish, camp, and relax in the park while they enjoy their time in Ba Vi. A world-class resort provides accommodation or guests can choose to sleep out underneath the stars.
Additionally, although not officially inside of the park, the entrance to the Tien Son-Suoi Nga tourist area is only minutes from the park’s main entrance.
As if there weren’t enough to see and do, additional highlights in the park include the cactus garden, Ngoc Hoa Cave, and an overgrown French church. Abandoned and no longer cared for by park employees, visitors can stroll through the wild-growing garden.
Beneath a cliff and tucked into the foot of Ngoc Hoa Mountain is the Ngoc Hoa Cave. Naturally formed and carved from stone, the cave has become a sacred place where locals worship the Ngoc Hoa princess. Visitors can take a short hike to see the cave and Ngoc Hoa’s impressive cliffs.
Finally, one of the park’s more mysterious features is the old French church. Abandoned, hollowed out, and covered with vines, nature has reclaimed the church. While intimidating on the outside, the church is a beautiful place and a popular destination for hikers.
Plants and Wildlife
Beyond the fantastic sights in Ba Vi National Park, there are a couple of thousand species of plants and animals living within the forest ecosystems. An estimated 1,209 different plants grow within the park, more than a third of which are medicinal herbs used in traditional Vietnamese medicine.
In addition to the abundant plant life, there are also over 300 animal species in Ba Vi National Park, including 23 that are listed as rare or endangered. Furthermore, a few of the creatures that are listed in Vietnam’s Red Book include loris, Asian black bears, pangolins, leopards, and white pheasants.
While various types of butterflies, birds, and fish are easily seen, other animal species tend to live further away from the park’s tourist sites, requiring guests to book a tour. Tours of the park can be arranged, and with a local guide to navigate, visitors can increase their chances of seeing one of the park’s rare inhabitants.
How to Get There
With such close proximity to Hanoi, the majority of the national park’s visitors travel from the capital city. The drive will take only 1.5 hours by car, or up to 2 hours by bus, making it accessible to all visitors, regardless if they’re taking a day trip or staying the night in the park.
Visitors who decide to rent a car in Hanoi can easily follow maps and take one of the main highways out of the city to reach the park. Others may wish to hire a private driver or can opt into taking a bus. Buses leave Hanoi from local stations every hour and are very budget-friendly.
When to Visit
Due to its high mountain range, Ba Vi is slightly cooler than Hanoi throughout the year. However, the summer months can still be quite hot, and with the addition of rain, the humidity rises drastically. While most want to avoid heat and humidity, summer is the most popular time to visit.
With the lakes and waterfalls in the area, many visitors cool off by taking a dip in the refreshing water. Summertime also brings the rain, and the wet season lasts from April to October. The increase of rainfall brings more cloud cover and mist, which obscures the view.
To avoid the crowds and wet weather, the dry season is the best time to visit Ba Vi. The dry season starts in November and lasts until March. During the dry season, the clouds are less likely to cover the views and there is an abundance of wildflowers growing.
Temperatures in November, December, February, and March can be quite cool but not freezing. January is the coldest month for Ba Vi and visitors will need to pack winter jackets.
A Breath of Fresh Air
For decades, Ba Vi National Park has been a popular destination for those looking to experience life outside of the city. Diverse ecosystems and breathtaking views have fueled the park’s popularity into the 21st century and made it one of Hanoi’s most popular attractions. Open year-round, Ba Vi is one national park that you don’t want to miss!
Address: Ba Vì, Hanoi, Vietnam
Phone: +84 24 3388 1205
Season: Year-Round | 6 AM – 7 PM