A remote, north-central haven for Vietnam’s rare bovine species, Vū Quang is one of the country’s least explored national parks. Nestled along the border with Laos, Vū Quang National Park is frequently bypassed by travelers. Unbeknownst to many, most glimpses of the park come from the window of an airplane or train while traveling to other destinations.
Superb for nature enthusiasts and travelers who want to escape from the crowds, visiting this remote corner may provide you with a chance of seeing the rare saola or giant muntjac species. With less tourism, visitors who brave the journey to Vū Quang will often be amongst only a handful of in the area, so you can enjoy this little slice of heaven all to yourself.
Vū Quang National Park is a wildlife-protected area in the Ha Tinh Province of Vietnam. Secluded and remote, the majority of the park consists of lowland forest ecosystems. Hà Tinh City is the closest large-sized urban area to the national park and traveling from the city will take about around one hour when driving.
There are also a few villages established just outside of the national park, with Ngā Phúc Dông being among the most popular villages to visit. The remote location of Vū Quang National Park has its own set of pros and cons, with the biggest issue being its lack of accessibility. Traveling solo is not recommended and most visitors will need to hire a guide to travel to and explore the park.
However, going well off of the beaten path means that visitors will receive a unique and personalized experience while visiting Vietnam’s forests. Vū Quang does not normally have large crowds of tourists, which makes it ideal for travelers who want to explore nature with peace and quiet. As a reward for a long journey, Vū Quang will grant you an exclusive view inside Vietnam’s coveted ecosystems.
Functioning as a nature reserve for nearly two decades prior to receiving an upgraded title, Vū Quang was declared as a national park in 2002. For Vietnam, this park is a historical relic as it once served as the site of the Phan Dinh Phung Revolutionary Base.
The base functioned during the late 19th century when the Can Vuong Uprising stood against Vietnam’s French colonists. Though few, there are some traces of the uprising still present at the park. Government officials are currently working on a plan to preserve and protect the park’s relics.
No longer a site for revolutionists, Vū Quang has been returned to its natural state, protecting precious plants and wildlife. Researchers and park officials are constantly looking for ways to improve the park, and with new species found every year, visitors will see first-hand the success of Vietnam’s conservation programs.
What to Do
Uncrowded, open to nature, and having less infrastructure, the main activity for visitors at Vū Quang is hiking. The average height of mountains in the park is 2,624 feet (800 meters) tall, and due to the lower altitude, most of the trails are easy to moderate in difficulty.
Limited facilities in the park are provided, however, guests can arrange to take a boat ride through some of the area’s lakes or rivers. Boat cruises can be arranged with the assistance of a tour guide or they may be included in a pre-booked touring itinerary of the park.
Hire a Guide
Being difficult to access and having remote trails means that exploring this park alone is not ideal. The easiest way to see Vu Quang, especially if you are on a tight time schedule, is to hire a guide. Local guides can assist you with transportation, bring you to specific highlights, arrange boat tours, lead your hike, and help you exit the park.
Due to the large distance between Vu Quang National Park and major cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, most travelers will arrange a tour in Hà Tinh. Visitors will likely find a few tour groups that have itineraries that include or focus exclusively on the park and can be arranged for single or multi-day trips.
Akin to many of Vietnam’s national parks, ethnic groups live in villages close to or within the park’s boundaries. These villages have become a useful asset for visitors as homestays can be arranged to provide an authentic cultural experience. Homestays are the best way to get immersed into a new culture and many locals are happy to extend a warm welcome to visitors.
Homestays may consist of a meal with your host or an overnight stay. Those who are interested in arranging one should contact a local tour company. Most homestays are affordable, which makes them a great choice for budget travelers.
Explore on Foot
Without the busy prefabricated attractions that other national parks have, visitors are left to explore Vu Quang’s raw beauty. Hiking is the most popular activity in the park and there are quite a few trails open for visitors. Vū Quang’s lower elevations make hiking easier as most trails are not too strenuous or difficult to navigate.
Local guides can assist visitors on their hike to ensure that people stay on the right path. The variation of trails ensures that hikers can spend a half-day, full-day, or multiple days hiking through Vū Quang. A few of the local tour itineraries may also include a half-day or day-long trek through the park.
Drift on the Water
Another popular activity amongst visitors is a boat ride on the park’s numerous lakes and small rivers. While large boats are not allowed in certain areas, those looking for a little adventure can rent a kayak. Otherwise, rides on the boats can be arranged with local guides or tour companies.
Plants and Wildlife
Vū Quang National Park’s most famous residents are the saola and giant muntjac, which are both bovine species. Occasionally referred to as the Asian unicorn, saola’s are near the top of the list of the world’s rarest mammals. Found only in the forests of the Annamite Mountain Range, visitors frequently head to Vū Quang National Park in hopes of seeing one in the wild.
Sometimes growing a pair of double horns on their head, the giant muntjac is another odd creature in the park. Similar to the saola, giant muntjacs are deer-like in appearance and only found in remote areas of Vietnam and Laos. The rarity of these two bovines makes them the stars at Vū Quang National Park.
Furthermore, there are various species of deer and antelope living in Vū Quang. Unlike the two famous bovines, these animals do not have a worldwide recognized name, mostly due to being recently discovered. A few of the locally named species, which are all deer-like in appearance, are the Quang Khem, Mangden, and Linh Du’o’ng. Visitors may also catch a glimpse of several fish species, slow loris, or the warty pig.
Covered by mostly forests, Vū Quang National Park is also a sanctuary for plants. Home to so many species that there is no documented list of everything within the park, it’s safe to assume that there could be hundreds of variations. New plants may still be undiscovered, or like some of the animal species, be waiting for a scientific description.
The roads leading to Vū Quang are not always in the best condition and during the rainy season, they may be flooded. While driving to Vū Quang is an option, the safest way to get to the park would be to arrange for a private transfer. Tour groups can provide transportation if you pay for one of their day or multi-day tours.
The time spent driving from Hà Tinh to Vū Quang National Park will depend on the road conditions. Usually, it will take about an hour to drive between the two destinations. Travelers who are visiting the area from other areas of the country like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City will have to take a plane, drive, or train ride to reach Hà Tinh City.
When to Visit
Vū Quang National Park experiences two weather seasons throughout the year: dry and wet. The dry season starts in late October and ends in March, while April to September is the wet season. During the dry season, the park is hot and humid with little rain, meanwhile, in winter, the wet season brings cooler temperatures and heavier rain.
The dry season is the park’s most popular time for visitors since the hiking trails will be dry and boat rides aren’t hindered by high winds or rain. Though hot and humid, there are plenty of streams, lakes, and rivers where visitors can cool off in Vū Quang. The park is also open in winter, but wet weather conditions can make hiking and boating more difficult.
Unknown to most travelers, Vū Quang National Park awards its visitors with immaculate forests, extraordinary wildlife, and flourishing plants. Home to some of Earth’s rarest animals, the open space, green valleys, and tranquil waterways only increase the park’s appeal. For those who truly love seeing nature at its finest, make sure to plan a trip to Vu Quang!
Address: Vũ Quang, Ha Tinh, Vietnam