Cat Tien National Park covering an area of 82597,4 hectares, is one of 8 biosphere reserves in Vietnam recognized by UNESCO. This park is now conserving several scarce and precious animal and plant species. Thanks to its diversity in nature and high biological value, currently the demand for ecotourism in this destination is increasingly developed with a range of attractive places for tourists to come in every holiday.
I - Where is Cat Tien National Park?
It is situated in the area of 3 provinces including Lam Dong, Dong Nai, Binh Phuoc, about 150 km from Ho Chi Minh City to the north. You can go there by bus or by motorbike.
Kim Hoan bus
- Departure point: Mien Dong bus station - No.292 Dinh Bo Linh Street, Ward 26, Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City
- Drop-off point: the gate of the national park
- Departure time: 6:50am, 7am, 9am, 0pm, 1:45pm, 2:45pm, 4pm
- Ticket price: 80,000 VND / person ($3.4)
- Contact: (061) 379 1133 - 360 5233
Travel by motorbike to Nam Cat Tien National Park
Distance: 150 km; Travel time: 3.5 hours; Rental fee: 100,000 - 600,000 VND / day ($4.3 - 26). Some motorbike rental shops in Ho Chi Minh City:
- Thanh Dat motorbike rental
+ Address: No.115/21 Le Van Sy Street, Ward 13, Phu Nhuan District
+ Website: https://chothuexemayhcm.com
- Bike Saigon
+ Address: No.32 Road 02, Cityland Park Hills area, Phan Van Tri Street, Go Vap District
+ Website: https://www.bikesaigon.com
II - What to do & see in Cat Tien National Park Vietnam?
Scattered around the vast area of the park, there are dozens of places waiting to be explored. You can do everything from trekking through forests, discovering the unique ecosystem, riding a bike on the most beautiful track in Vietnam, campfire overnight,... Two days and one night seems to be the most suitable time to comprehend this place. Some outstanding destinations:
1 - Cat Tien Natural Museum
With the collection of more than 120 wood samples, 100 fish specimens, 500 types of insect, nearly 20 kinds of bat and 10 prototypes of mammal such as rhinocero, bull, black-shanked douc,... this is promisingly a helpful source of knowledge about all kinds of species for nature lovers.
- Ticket price: 10,000 VND/adult ($0.4) & 5,000 VND/child ($0.2)
2 - Center for Wildlife Rescue, Conservation and Development of Cat Tien National Park
This “home” was established in 2005 as a shelter for wild animals which used to be hunted, captured, and trafficked. Accordingly, after receiving these vulnerable creatures, experts and veterinarians at the center will take care, examine and treat and train their instincts and then release them to their natural habitat. Coming here, you have a chance to take care of, observe the behavior of these rescue wildlife at the center.
- Price ticket: 30,000 VND ($1.3)/adult & 15,000 VND (0.6)/child
3 - Ben Cu Waterfall
Formerly, this area was the rendezvous for Vietnamese soldiers to transport food, medicine and necessities. It is also where the first ranger station of Nam Cat Tien forbidden forest was constructed in 1978. This is an ideal place for camping in Cat Tien National Park because you can rest under old trees, gossiping while watching animals climbing on the branches.
To visit Ben Cu, you have to rent a car and follow one of the two following routes:
- Tung ancient tree - Ben Cu waterfall - Bac Dong tree: 480,000 VND/7-seater car ($20.7); 630,000 VND/14-seater car ($27.2); 780,000 VND/20-seater car ($33.6)
- Tung ancient tree - Ben Cu waterfall - Bac Dong tree - Loc giao banyan - Hundred-stemmed acacia lake: 1,600,000 VND/7-seater car ($69); 2,350,000 VND/14-seater car ($101.3); 2,850,000 VND/20-seater car ($122.8)
4 - Botanical garden
The botanical garden is where all the vegetation species existing in Cat Tien are collected. With an area of 29.6 hectares, including 322 species of 75 families typical of plants in the Southeast region of Vietnam. Coming here, you should spend some time trekking across the forest to admire different kinds of strange mushrooms, charming forest flowers, hundreds of herbs, and a myriad of old, giant trees.
- Ticket price: free
5 - Crocodile Lake in Cat Tien National Park
Boat on Bau Sau - Source: Internet
To fully explore Crocodile Lake (Bàu Sấu in Vietnamese), you need to hire a car to travel about 10km from the management office and then walk 5km more. Here, you see with your own eyes how alligators hunt their prey and observe their life habits. If you are curious, you can stay here overnight to enjoy the specialties of Nam Cat Tien forest while watching their activities in darkness.
Fare without overnight
- Ticket price: 250,000 VND)/person ($10.8)
- Car rental: 600,000 VND/7-seater car ($26); 1,200,000 VND/20-seater car ($51.7) - Tour guide: 450,000 VND/group ($19.4)
- Bike rental:150,000 VND ($6.5)/bike + Tour guide: 600,000 VND ($26)
Fare with overnight
- Ticket price: 250,000 VND/person ($10.8)
- Car rental: 600,000 VND ($26)/7-seater car; 1,200,000 VND/20-seater car ($52) - Tour guide: 550,000 VND/group ($24)
- Bike rental: 150,000 VND/bike ($6.5)
- Room rate: 750,000 - 1,600,000 VND/night ($32.3 - 69)
- Eating: 100,000 VND/dinner ($4.3) & 30,000 VND/breakfast ($1.3)
6 - Chaulmoogra forest
Chaulmoogra is the plant typical for Cat Tien National Park’s ecosystem. This is a kind of beautiful tree which can grow up to 20m, living along canals, irrigation ditches, streams,... In the rainy season, its fruits fall down on the ground and streams in the forest, becoming food for animals and fish. Besides, seeds of this tree can be used as a drug to treat skin diseases.
- Ticket price: free
7 - Sky Waterfall (Thac Troi)
Thac Troi - Source: VnExpress
The fall is located about 6 km away from the center of the park. Coming near, you can hear the sound of water flowing down from up above, hitting the rock at the bottom, creating the rushing stiff noise like the calling from nature. If you arrive here at the beginning of the rainy season, you will witness more stunning scenery because there is abundant water and plants better thrive. If you come from March to May, you will be overwhelmed by the sky overshadowed by the purple of lagerstroemia flowers.
- To visit Thac Troi, you can follow the route passing by Tung ancient tree - Bac Dong tree - Sky waterfall - Da Co Queen’s crape-myrtle
- Car rental fee: 1,050,000 VND/7-seater car ($45.3); 1,400,000 VND/14-seater car ($60.3); 1,800,000 VND/20-seater car ($77.6).
8 - Da Co forest of Queen’s crape-myrtle - an ideal place for a Cat Tien National Park trekking tour
From October to May next year is the best time for you to admire the charming beauty of the Queen’s crape-myrtle in Nam Cat Tien. Just 15 minutes travel, you will get lost in this dreamy purple forest which may cost you a lot of time on checking in. Besides, during the trip to get to this place, you will be presented with several precious trees such as Dalbergia bariensis, Afzelia xylocarpa, Sindora siamensis,...
- This destination is on the same route as Sky Waterfall.
- Car rental fee: 1,050,000 - 1,800,000 VND/car ($45.3 - 77.6)
9 - Watching nightlife of wild animals at Nightlife Animal Safari
Catching sight of animals in Cat Tien National Park is a casual thing. However, if you would like to see mammals such as Samba deer, wild pigs, porcupines, civet cats, nightjars,... the night is the best time. At night, the jungle literally comes alive in the dark and the probability of seeing animals is much higher since it is their most active period.
When choosing this activity, you will have a chance to sit in a convertible car with the tour guide, heading toward vast reeds in the middle of the woods. In the dry season, about 6:30 pm is the hunting time of forest animals when you can see them with your own eyes via the dim light of the headlight of the car. Such a vibrant world with herds of deers tentatively chewing grass, wild boars running around for feeding, weasels jumping and brachiating… appears before you.
- Ticket price: 150,000 - 330,000 VND/person ($6.5 - 14.2)
III - Essential information about Cat Tien National Park travel
1 - Service price
- Adult: 60,000 VND/person ($2.6)
- Children: 10,000 VND/person ($0.4)
- Student 20,000 VND/person ($0.9)
On-demand vehicle rental fee
- Single bike: 30,000 VND/hour ($1.3); 100,000 VND/4 hours ($4.3); 150,000 VND/8 hours ($6.5)
- Tandem bike: 50,000 VND/hour ($2.2); 150,000 VND/4 hours ($6.5); 250,000 VND/8 hours ($10.8)
- Car (per hour): 500,000 VND/7-seater car ($21.6); 750,000 VND/14-seater car ($32.3); 1,000,000 VND20-seater car
- Car (per session): 1,250,000 VND/7-seater car ($53.9); 2,000,000 VND/14-seater car ($86.2); 2,500,000 VND/20-seater car ($107.8)
- Car (per day): 2,000,000 VND/7-seater car ($86.2); 3,000,000 VND/14-seater car ($129.3); 4,000,000 VND/20-seater car ($172.4)
- Canoe (per hour): 800,000 VND/1-5 people ($34.5); 1,200,000 VND/6-10 people ($51.7); 1,400,000 VND/11-14 people ($60.3)
2 - Cat Tien National Park accommodation
Camping in the forest - Source: Umove
- Camping fee: 100,000 VND ($4.3)/person (visitor’s camp)
- Campfire: 600,000 VND ($25.9)/fire (exclusive VAT)
- Location fee (team game): 1,000,000 VND ($43.1)/session
You are allowed to camp at a specific place in the center of the Garden, not the Crocodile Lake or anywhere else.
Room rate at Crocodile Lake: 750,000 - 1,600,000 VND/night ($32.3 - 69)
Room rate at the center of the Garden: 350,000 - 600,000 VND/night ($15.1 - 26)
3 - Weather & the best time to visit
Located in the contiguous zone between the southern Central Highlands and the Southeast, the climate in Cat Tien is greatly affected by these regions. There are 2 seasons: rainy season and dry season. The rainy season lasts from May to October, accounting for 85 - 90% of precipitation of the year. The dry season is from November to April. The difference in the average rain also leads to the distinction in temperature between these seasons. The highest temperature is in March, April, and May (37 - 38.2℃) and the lowest one is in December at about 19.
According to Cat Tien National Park weather, the best time to come here is from December to May because there isn’t so much heavy rain, the air is cool so it is favorable for you to move and admire the beauty of nature.
4 - What and where to eat?
Dishes you must try:
These kinds of fish are very abundant in the forest of Cat Tien so if you would like to try, restaurants here are always ready to serve you with different ways of cooking such as grilled fish, fish soup, simmered fish,...
Also named water duckweed, it is a very common plant in the South but in Nam Cat Tien, it is processed into a delicious dish that you must taste once. This soup is sweet and refreshing. The cook uses both the trunk and the flower to make it.
River fish, jungle vegetable hotpot
This park has a plentiful fishery and jungle vegetables, so, it has a famous hotpot which is made by fish, other natural aquacultures with different types of wild herbs. The dish is so mouth-watering especially when served in the cool atmosphere of the forests.
Some restaurants inside Cat Tien National Park Vietnam:
- Tre Vang restaurant: 0251 3669 621
- Cay Dau restaurant: price: 30,000 - 140,000 VND ($1.3 - 6)/dish & contact: 0251 2669 174
5 - Suggested itinerary
- 7:30 am: Start going to National Park from Ho Chi Minh City Centre, expected to move in 4 hours
- 11:30 am: Check-in procedures.
- 0pm: Have lunch at restaurants inside the national park
- 1:30pm: Depart to the Crocodile Lake area and walk 5km long to visit and feel how beautiful nature is
- 3pm: Rent a bicycle at Crocodile Lake, then go around Bau Sau Street and explore the Botanical garden
- 4pm: Visit Da Co forest of Queen’s crape-myrtle, the Tung tree. Ben Cu Waterfall and the boat through the waterfall - sky waterfall (should walk to be able to visit easily and observe the natural scenery better)
- 5:30pm: Back to the center and return to the bathroom
- 6pm: Have dinner at the tourist center of the national park
- 7pm: Prepare camp and set up tents, organize outdoor entertainment activities. Go to see the wild animals at night and go back to the camp to sleep in Cat Tien National Park
- 7am: Drop by Natural Museum and Center for Wildlife Rescue, Conservation and Development
- 8:30am: Arrange and check out
Some tour providers:
- Duration: 2 days 1 night
- Price: from $90/person
- Contact: 0984 873 128
- Website: https://waytovietnam.com/
- Duration: 2 days
- Price: from 6,742,500 VND/person ($290.6)
- Contact: 030 22027135
- Website: https://www.getyourguide.co.uk/
In conclusion, Cat Tien National Park Vietnam is an amazing national park in Vietnam for those who have fed up with the gas, dust, and cement skyscrapers of urban life and are finding a place to change their breath. The above information is a summary of what is most outstanding about this place. If you want to verify it, why not come and see it on your own.