To some, Tà Dùng National Park is considered the “Ha Long Bay of South Central Vietnam”. Spread over 40 islands, the national park protects the Tà Dùng Lake ecosystem. While not on the coast like Ha Long Bay, Tà Dùng is a beautiful island destination that is vital to Vietnam’s ecological preservation and research.
Located in the Dak Nong Province, Tà Dùng National Park can be more difficult to access because of its remote location. The town of Gia Nghia is about an hour away from the national park and one of the only significantly sized establishments in the area. Buôn Ma Thuôt City is another major transportation hub for the province, but it is about 100 miles away from Tà Dùng.
Established in 2018, historical accounts of Tà Dùng have yet to be widely published. Due to being the newest national park in Vietnam, locals whose families have been living in the area for generations and the park’s visitor center are the two most reliable sources for information.
What to Do
While Tà Dùng National Park is new, as an aquatic and terrestrial protected area, there is a lot for visitors to see and do. Boating on the lake, hiking to the waterfalls, and camping on the nearby peaks are Tà Dùng’s most beloved attractions. With nature as the focus, visitors will find that there isn’t much infrastructure to entertain them at the park.
Take a Boat Tour of Tà Dùng Lake
With islands and peninsulas dotting Tà Dùng Lake, boat tours are a unique way to explore the national park. On the boat, visitors will be in the perfect position to view the shoreline and park’s topography. During the ride, visitors can also observe the locals fishing and listen to the mythical tales inspired by the lake.
Hike Both Onshore and Inland
Most of the islands on the lake are uninhabited and small in size, which makes them unpopular destinations. Hikers will need to head slightly inland or stick to the shoreline if they want to explore the forests for rare flora and fauna. Popular hiking destinations in Tà Dùng include springs and waterfalls.
Dak N’teng and Dak P’lao are two small springs that flow through a series of rocks before cascading down the mountains. The Sun and Dak P’lao Waterfalls are surrounded by ancient trees and heavy boulders. For campers, the landscape around the Digne Klan Waterfall is great, being flat for tents and shaded by large trees.
Hikers are encouraged to hire a local guide for their journey to ensure that they are safe and make camp in the appropriate areas. Local guides know the way and can educate visitors about the park’s ecosystem and conservation efforts. Guides tend to be flexible about schedules and can be hired for single or multiple-day excursions.
Stay the Night
Lodges, resorts, and hotels do not exist at Tà Dùng, instead, park guests who stay the night will be required to pitch a tent and cook over a fire. While not suited for everyone, visitors who want to escape the city’s loud noises will enjoy the peace and quiet of this national park. An existing camping area situated atop a hill is open to visitors, offering extraordinary views of the lake and islands.
Visitors can arrange camping tours at the park’s service center. Local guides will bring guests to the camping sites and provide everything they need for their overnight adventure.
Plants and Wildlife
At Tà Dùng National Park, nature is free to grow and roam where it pleases. There are more than 1,000 species of plants and animals living in the park amongst the lake, forests, and mountains. Some of the species have so few numbers that they are included on Vietnam’s Red List. Rarely seen, but recorded wildlife in the park includes leopards, gibbons, pythons, and duocs.
Many travelers have yet to explore Tà Dùng National Park and those who already have suggested traveling from Buôn Ma Thuôt to the town Gia Nghia. Buôn Ma Thuôt is about 100 miles (160 kilometers) away from the national park and it is a major transit hub for the region, which makes it easier to travel from big cities like Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi.
Gia Nghia is the closest settlement outside of the park that has a bus service from Buôn Ma Thuôt. The town also has accommodation options for visitors who just want to spend the day at Tà Dùng. Driving from Gia Nghia to the main entrance takes about 1 hour by car.
A few tour companies may operate in Gia Nghia and provide transportation to their clients. Visitors unable to find a tour in Gia Nghia don’t have to worry as many local guides are stationed at Tà Dùng’s service center.
When to Visit
Surprisingly, the best time to visit Tà Dùng is just after the rainy season because the water in the lake is higher and the colors are more vibrant. This makes July to December the most popular time to visit the park. The rainy season runs from May to October, and while trails may get muddy, most of the time the rain falls at night or it tends to be in the form of a short shower.
Vietnam’s Newest Addition
As a recent addition to Vietnam’s list of national parks, Tà Dùng is an underdog. While its international recognition is still beginning to grow, more visitors are traveling to Tà Dùng each year. Hoping to reduce greenhouse gases, the government and park rangers are strict about protecting the forests and lakes.
These enforced policies have kept the park clean and beautiful so that guests can delight at Tà Dùng’s sweeping views.
Address: Đắk Som, Đăk Glong District, Dak Nong, Vietnam