Significant to the Gia Lai and Kon Tum Provinces, Kon Ka Kinh National Park not only protects the Ba and Dak Pne Rivers but also acts as the main water source for the local crops. Conservation in Kon Ka Kinh is crucial and locals have learned how to play their part in protecting the national park’s resources and biodiversity.
With a blend of culture, nature, and ecotourism on display, visitors to Kon Ka Kinh will be hypnotized by the park’s grand allure.
Kon Ka Kinh National Park is a priority protection zone in Vietnam’s Central Kon Tum Province. Spread across the Kon Tum Plateau, the park is a mix of protected zones and ethnic communes. Since Kon Ka Kinh crosses into the Gia Lai Province, the national park is easier to access than other parks like Chu Mom Ray, which is also in the Kon Tum Province.
Kon Tum City is the largest urban development that is in the park’s area, however, the closest town with airport service is Pleiku. Surrounding the national park are various communes that are open to visitors, however, guests need to be aware that there are limited options for accommodation. Pleiku is the closest town that has a wider range of accommodation and dining options.
For years, Kon Ka Kinh was recognized as an important natural resource for the surrounding area. Starting as a nature reserve then deemed a “special forest” in 1989, Vietnam’s then prime minister declared Kon Ka Kinh as a national park in 2002. Today, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) recognizes Kon Ka Kinh as a biodiverse priority zone and tourist site.
For generations, ethnic locals have lived and used the park as a natural resource. The Ayun Commune sits at the heart of the park while several additional communes lie in the surrounding area. Culture in these communes is an integral part of Vietnam’s identity and park visitors can learn first-hand from the locals by arranging a tour.
What to Do
Tourism has many branches in Kon Ka Kinh National Park with the most popular experiences based on hiking, observing, touring, and home staying in the communes. Popular attractions at Kon Ka Kinh include the House of Specimen Museum and the wild orchid collection. Open year-round, the park is suitable for guided and solo adventures.
Epic Hikes and Wildlife Tours
Hiking in Kon Ka Kinh is done on an eclectic array of gentle, moderate, and rigorous trails. With tall peaks waiting to be summited, hikers can choose to take a multi-day journey to the top or spend an afternoon weaving around the streams. Guided hikes are the safest way to explore Kon Ka Kinh and local tours often take visitors to the park’s best spots, including waterfalls.
Another tour option combines hiking with the local wildlife. While hikers might encounter a few animals along the way, guided wildlife tours are the best chance that park guests will get to see some of the rare fauna found in Kon Ka Kinh. Out in the wild areas of the park, tour guides can lead visitors to quieter areas where they might see wild boars, porcupines, or deer.
Day options are listed while a more unique option guides visitors through the forests at night.
Culture Up Close
The Ayun Commune is the only commune located within Kon Ka Kinh National Park. A huge attraction for tourists wishing to delve deeper into Vietnam’s ethnic culture, Ayun is a popular stop on many tour itineraries. Guests can learn about the “Space of Gong Culture”, share meals, dance around the bonfire and learn to cook with the locals.
Visitors who want to stay in a more natural setting are encouraged to visit the Ha Dung Village, which is surrounded by six streams and is a frequent place for wildlife spotting.
Education centers at Kon Ka Kinh include the House of Specimen and Wild Orchid Collection. Run by park rangers, the House of Specimen provides visitors with more information about the flora and fauna that are found within the park.
Visiting the House of Specimen also supports the park’s local conservation efforts and visitors can learn more about what they can do to protect Vietnam’s threatened landscapes.
Plants and Wildlife
Multiple surveys conducted in Kon Ka Kinh National Park have determined that the park’s impressive biodiverse ecosystems are due to the area’s unique topography, climate, and soil. Within Kon Ka Kinh there are 687 flora species including 11 that are endemic to Vietnam. About two dozen of plant species are also recorded as endangered in Vietnam’s Red Book.
An additional 428 animal species live in the national park with nearly half of that number being vertebrates. 205 invertebrates live in the park, which includes some of the area’s most stunning insects, while the rarest wildlife includes the Indochinese tiger and yellow-cheeked gibbon.
Finally, a significant portion of amphibian species in Kon Ka Kinh are endemic to Vietnam and are found only in the Annamite Mountains.
How to Get There
Visitors who are coming from different areas of Vietnam can travel by plane to Pleiku. Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, and Jetstar Pacific all offer domestic flights on a near-daily basis from big cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City to Pleiku. Flying cuts the travel time from 24+ hours of driving to just a few hours in the air.
From Pleiku, Kon Ka Kinh National Park is about 31 miles (50 kilometers) to the northeast. Hotels in Pleiku can help their guests arrange transportation to and from the national park. Buses, taxis, shuttles, and private drivers are all offered on a daily basis with routes running from Pleiku to the main entrance of Kon Ka Kinh.
While most tours are booked at the national park, those who make tour arrangements in Pleiku will often find that transportation is included in the company’s package.
When to Visit
Winter or the dry months are the most popular time to visit Kon Ka Kinh National Park. From December to March, the park’s water level decreases which makes it easier for visitors to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking. With end-of-year festivities syncing with the dry season, an influx of visitors frequents the park in December and January.
For the rest of the year, rainfall makes some activities more difficult in Kon Ka Kinh National Park. While the park is open year-round, visitors who want to enjoy the great outdoors should plan their trip accordingly. Wet weather makes the trails more difficult to navigate and for some visitors, trudging around in the rain would ruin the experience.
Heritage and Nature Collide
As one of four ASEAN Heritage Parks in all of Vietnam, Kon Ka Kinh National Park is an enchanting place where rivers flow freely, and mountains reach the sky.
With the highest point in the Annamite Mountain Range, visitors are up for a challenge if they want to explore the park on foot. Though with plenty of natural and cultural attractions, visitors only need to pick an itinerary and they can spend the day exploring the wonders of Kon Ka Kinh National Park.
Address: Ayun Commune, Mang Yang District, A Yun, Mang Yang, Gia Lai, Vietnam
Phone: +84 269 3795 107