If you intend to visit Dong Nai during your Vietnam travel journey, you should not miss out on the opportunity to explore Cat Tien National Park. Having captured the affection of countless local and global tourists, it has emerged as one of Dong Nai's top natural draws. For those in search of experiences beyond mere sightseeing, this biodiverse park promises an unparalleled expedition.
1. An overview of Cat Tien National Park Vietnam
- Opening hours: 7:30 am - 6:30 pm
- Location: Nam Cat Tien Commune, Tan Phu District, Dong Nai Province, Vietnam
- Entrance fee: 20,000 - 40,000 VND
Being one of the largest national parks in South Vietnam, Cat Tien National Park is home to many rare plants and animals. The park's immense biodiversity and ecological significance make it a valuable destination not only for scientists but also for both local and international tourists. As a constituent of the wet tropical forest complex, it is one of Vietnam's few truly diverse natural forests. In 2001, UNESCO gave it a special title as the 411th biosphere Reserve Zone in the world.
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2. The biodiversity of Cat Tien National Park
2.1. Forest ecosystem in Cat Tien National Park
Cat Tien National Park, an immensely biodiverse forest in Vietnam, encompasses a diverse array of five primary forest types:
- Evergreen broad-leaved forest: Big evergreen trees, which prefer deep soil with not many rocks, are the main ones here, occupying more than 75% of all plants.
- Semi-deciduous evergreen forest: Deciduous trees account for more than 75% of the plants in these areas. The trees have strong roots at the bottom and like shallow soil with lots of rocks.
- Mixed wood-bamboo forest: Human activities have an impact on this area. The forest is usually green, but sometimes about half of the trees lose their leaves due to forest fires or harmful chemicals. The canopy is more open now, and bamboo plants have taken over some parts.
- Bamboo forest: When the forest was cleared to make rice fields and then left without attention, it created a good environment for bamboo to thrive here.
- Wetland and semi-wetland: These areas experience distinct seasonal changes. During the dry season, water levels recede, leaving behind ponds and swamps. These zones host a unique sub-type of wetland that emerges during periods of seasonal flooding.
2.2. Fauna in Cat Tien National Park
The animal life in the park is similar to the animals found in the East Truong Son plain and is closely connected to the Tay Nguyen region. One notable feature is the presence of six common hoofed species, including wild boars, Javan mouse deer, banteng, sambar deer, barking deer, and gaur. Cat Tien is quite special because it is one of the few forests in Vietnam where you can actually see Vietnam animals in their natural surroundings. This makes it a great place for observing and appreciating wildlife.
2.3. Flora in Cat Tien National Park
The park finds itself in a special spot, where the mountainous and plain climates meet. This unique blend creates a stunning natural scene that is hard to beat. The park currently houses an impressive 1,610 plant species. Among them, 31 are so important that they are listed in Vietnam's Red Book. In terms of the kinds of plants you will find, the top ones belong to the Dipterocarpaceae, Fabaceae, and Lythraceae families. These plants really shape the park's look and feel, and they play a big role in its diverse ecosystem.
2.4. Fungi in Cat Tien National Park
Cat Tien National Park is a real treat for fungus lovers, hosting a whopping 300 common Basidiomycetes species that have been officially recorded in Vietnam. The latest exploration in the park has unveiled over 90 brand-new fungal species that were previously unknown. This fact highlights the park's significance, not only for its plants and animals but also for its fascinating fungal world, giving researchers and nature enthusiasts alike a unique peek into the mysterious realm of fungi.
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3. Guide for your excursion to Cat Tien National Park
3.1. When is the best time to visit Cat Tien National Park?
You can visit Cat Tien National Park at any time because the weather is nice all year round, with an average temperature of 27 degrees Celsius. However, it is a bit tricky during the rainy season from June to November. The paths can be wet and slippery, so it is better to avoid those months if you do not want rain to spoil your trip.
The best time to visit the park is from December to late May, which is the dry season. During this time, there is less rain, and the paths are dry and easy to walk or bike on. This is when you can really enjoy exploring the park and its natural beauty.
3.2. How to get to Cat Tien National Park?
According to the South Vietnam map, the park is about 150 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City. Tourists who desire to explore this national park have several transportation options to choose from:
- Motorbikes: If you are considering a motorbike journey from Ho Chi Minh City to Cat Tien National Park, it is recommended that you take National Highway 1A. When you reach the Dau Giay junction, make a left turn onto Highway 20. Continue along Highway 20 for approximately 58 kilometers. Take a left turn at the Ta Lai junction. Proceed for about 24 kilometers, and you will find yourself at the entrance gate of Nam Cat Tien National Park.
- Cars: Travelers with personal cars or those opting for self-driving rentals can head towards the Long Thanh - Dau Giay Highway. After exiting the highway, continue on Highway 20. Follow the same left turn at the Ta Lai junction, as indicated in the motorbike route above.
- Buses: If you are looking for a more comfortable option to Cat Tien National Park from Ho Chi Minh City, you can catch buses from some reputable companies such as Mai Linh, Phuong Trang, or Kim Hoan at Mien Dong Station. Bus fares typically range from 80,000 to 120,000 VND per one-way ticket.
3.3. Things to do in Cat Tien National Park
- Go trekking: When you are in Cat Tien, you should consider trekking as it is something many tourists find exciting. During this activity, you will walk through the dense forest, discovering the amazing plants and animals that call it home. It is a chance to really connect with nature and see things up close, getting a true feel for the place.
- Explore Bau Sau: A visit to the park would not be complete without exploring Bau Sau. As its name suggests, this place is home to over 60 species of rare freshwater fish. To access the entrance of Bau Sau, a ticket priced at around 140,000 VND per person is required. Upon arrival, you have the option to rent a bicycle for 30,000 VND per person per hour or choose a jeep for a round trip for 500,000 VND. These choices ensure you can comfortably explore and appreciate the unique environment of Bau Sau.
- Visit the bear rescue camp: A favorite spot in the park, especially for kids, is the bear rescue camp. This camp is all about helping bears that have had a tough time. You will see many bears of different ages, all well looked after. The people who work here are really enthusiastic, energetic, and always caring.
- Camp overnight: If you want to really feel the vibe of the park, you can stay overnight by camping. There are nice green areas and strong tents, making this a memorable experience that adds a special touch to your trip. You can have a BBQ, throw a little outdoor party, and enjoy the unique atmosphere. You can rent tents from the park or bring your own stuff if you like.
- Enjoy local food: While you are soaking in the amazing natural beauty of the park, do not miss out on the chance to try some delicious local dishes. One must-try is the Luc Binh soup, a local favorite that really captures the flavors of the area. In addition, tourists can try the hot pot with river fish and wild vegetables, as well as dishes like perch and snakehead fish. These foods are made with the unique and down-to-earth tastes of the local people.
3.4. Tips for having the best Cat Tien National Park tour
- Wear comfy clothes: Go for light, stretchy, and absorbent outfits for a comfy trip. Skip the bulky stuff that can slow you down.
- Pick good shoes: Opt for snug sports shoes with good grip for safer walks. They will keep your feet happy even during long strolls.
- Bring sandals or slippers: Having these handy for camping or chilling at the park area can make your feet feel cozy.
- Stay hydrated and snacked: Pack water and dry snacks to stay energized as you explore.
- Carry essentials: Don't forget insect repellent, sunscreen, and any medications you need for a worry-free trip.
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Besides Cat Tien National Park, Dong Nai offers tourists numerous destinations for amazing eco travel journeys, including Giang Dien Waterfall, Buu Long Tourist Area, Da Han Waterfall, Tre Viet Tourist Village, Vuon Xoai Tourist Area, and Long Khanh Fruit Plantation.
After exploring Dong Nai, tourists should consider visiting some famous cities in Vietnam such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Da Nang, Ha Long. In these destinations, you should stay at the hotels and resorts of Vinpearl These accommodations offer you the opportunity to experience top-notch amenities and excellent services. To create more meaningful moments with your loved ones, you should not miss out on the chance to unwind at VinWonders. These amusement paradises have numerous adventurous games and impressive performances that will satisfy customers of all ages.
Cat Tien National Park emerges as a paradise for avid travelers aiming to explore captivating natural marvels. With its peaceful atmosphere and diverse ecosystem, the park offers a sanctuary for those seeking an enchanting adventure. Hopefully, this guide has aided you in planning an exceptional itinerary for your unforgettable forest retreat.