7 Amazing National Parks in Vietnam for Motorbikes

The Main Gate to Cuc Phuong National Park

Table of Contents

7 Amazing National Parks in Vietnam for Motorbikes

Vietnam’s national parks are some of the best in the world. From exotic wildlife to remote hiking trails, pristine beaches to deep green nature reserves, the opportunities for adventure and exploration in a Vietnam national park are unmatched by national parks in other countries.

In this post, we’ll look at seven of the very best Vietnam national parks for motorbikes in particular. We’ve even arranged the parks in our list from north to south so you can plan a route between them more easily if you’re going for a cross-country Vietnam adventure.

Location (map)

Cat Ba National Park

Starting from the tip of North Vietnam, the first stop on our list is Cat Ba National Park, which is located on an island. In this case, we definitely didn’t save the best for last, either: it may be Vietnam’s most spectacular national park because of the sheer amount of biodiversity.

The total area of the island is only about 150km2, but the ecosystems packed into that area include misty karst mountains, mangrove forests, coral reefs, picturesque beaches, caves, grottos, green valleys, and more. Every one of Cat Ba’s compelling landscapes contains plenty of exotic wildlife and well-kept hiking trails. It’s like Disneyland for nature lovers.

What to Do in Cat Ba National Park

Most of the trails through the park are single-track dirt roads that only those on foot or on two wheels will be able to access. Some are not even accessible to bikes, but they’re few and far between.

A few of the most popular sites in the park include:

  • Trying to spot one of the 65 Cat Ba golden-headed langurs, the world’s most endangered primate.
  • Kayaking to view the Bay ecosystem.
  • Exploring Trung Trang cave.
  • Visiting Cat Co beach.

For a more detailed listing, check out our full post on 6 things to do on Cat Ba island.

I’d recommend 2-3 days to visit Cat Ba National Park. Luckily, the island has lots of hotels and a few camping sites.

How to Get to Cat Ba National Park

Cat Ba is also very close to Ha Long Bay, which makes it a convenient stop for those already checking out the immensely popular landmark. In fact, you really only need to take the 50-minute ferry from Tuan Chau terminal in Ha Long towards Cat Ba and then you’re pretty much there. Motorbikes are allowed on the ferry for just 25k VND (about $1).

taking a stroll along Moody Beach on a clear day
Cat Ba has some wonderful rocky scenery and hidden bays

Cuc Phuong National Park

Cuc Phuong, Vietnam’s oldest national park, is only 100km from Hanoi, which is absolutely amazing considering how pristine and remote it feels most of the time. If you’re visiting the city (and you definitely should if you’re in Northern Vietnam), you can get to Cuc Phuong in just about two hours.

The park is a bastion of greenery, with most of its area being covered by thick rainforest that is millions of years old. About 75% of the forested area is occupied by limestone mountains that make exploration of the area a more challenging and beautiful experience. There are plenty of other natural features, like waterfalls and wildlife sanctuaries, to discover and explore.

What to Do in Cuc Phuong National Park

Some of the paths through Cuc Phuong are flat and can be accessed by any type of vehicle without much trouble. Since most of the park is covered by rainforest-choked limestone mountains, though, the vast majority presents much more difficult terrain that should only be explored by advanced motorbike riders or hikers.

Some of Cuc Phuong’s most popular attractions are:

  • Viewing local plant life. Cuc Phuong is a botanical gardens, with roughly 2,000 species of plant life – 37 of which are endangered.
  • Endangered primate rescue center.
  • The two animal sanctuaries.
  • Cave of prehistoric man.
  • The thousand year-old tree.

I’d recommend spending a full day in Cuc Phuong National Park, meaning at least 8 hours. You could also spend the night in one of the area’s many hotels.

How to Get to Cuc Phuong National Park

As mentioned, Cuc Phuong is an amazingly fast 2-3 hour ride south from Hanoi along highway and other paved roads. Most people will combine a trip to Cuc Phuong with a visit to Ninh Binh. Here we show you the best three ways to get to Ninh Binh.

Thousands of butterflies in Cuc Phuong National Park
Thousands of butterflies in Cuc Phuong National Park

Pu Luong Nature Reserve

More so than any other National Park on this list, Pu Luong is special for its cultural heritage and its minority tribes. Stumbling upon an isolated village inaccessible to cars and learning about a local tribe through first hand exposure is a common experience for those who choose to dive headfirst into exploring the Pu Luong Valley. The Muong and Thai tribes have an especially large presence in Pu Luong.

The natural beauty of the valley is also distinct, boasting a slightly more “rolling hills of gold” aesthetic than the green and rocky national parks of North Vietnam but a slightly more lush appearance that the rocky Central Highlands to the south.

What to Do in Pu Luong Nature Reserve

As I alluded to above, my recommendation here is to explore the local hill tribes! You’ll probably stumble across some immersive cultural experiences you’ll never forget. Exploring the area near towns will also bring you to the terraced rice paddies and bamboo water wheels that the area is famous for. Note that most of the trails are only accessible by motorbike.

Don’t worry that, by exploring near villages, you are missing the chance to get out into nature; the people of Pu Luong are excellent at living in harmony with the nature surrounding them without disturbing it.

How to Get to Pu Luong

You can get to Pu Luong from Hanoi in 4-5 hours using paved roads that are accessible to motorbikes or cars. The road leads through Cuc Phuong, so you can come straight from there if you’re following the itinerary presented in this guide. When you arrive there are many accommodation options and here are 5 of our favourite places to stay in Pu Luong

local children playing in Ba Nua
local children playing in Ba Nua

Bach Ma National Park

Bach Ma National Park is one of the natural beauty highlights of Central Vietnam for a variety of reasons.

First of all, it’s situated right at the boundary between Northern and Southern Vietnam, which makes for a unique divergence of ecosystems. You’ll see a mix of flora and fauna from all over the country.

Second, it’s located on top of a mountain range, with one of the peaks in the park rising to 1,450m. This high elevation makes for more temperate weather and even more incredible views than other national parks in Vietnam.

Third, it has a lot of history, as it is near what was basically the DMZ during the Vietnam war.

Fourth, it’s very diverse, with hundreds of species of tropical birds and other wildlife, a huge cave system, and countless majestic waterfalls and streams dotting the national park.

What to Do in Bach Ma National Park

Some of the most popular activities in Bach Ma include:

  • Trek to Rhododendron Waterfall.
  • Visit Lam Bach Ma Zen Monastery.
  • Go birdwatching – the park is home to 330 species of colorful tropical birds.
  • Try out nature photography – this park is one of the more scenic national parks in Vietnam.

How to Get to Bach Ma National Park

Another nice thing about Bach Ma National Park is that it’s right in between Danang and Hue imperial city, the two big cities in Central Vietnam. You can motorbike there easily from either of those two cities as long as you’re ready to take on some ascents, which makes it one of the more accessible national parks in Vietnam. It’s also near Hoi An, which should definitely be a stop on any cross-country Vietnam itinerary.

Bach Ma National Park

Cat Tien National Park

Cat Tien is perhaps the best place to view the biodiversity of Southern Vietnam, because it’s huge and very well-preserved compared to much of the nature in the South. The subtropical national park is so lush, in fact, that it is a UNESCO-designated biosphere reserve. The opportunities to view plants and wildlife unique to Southern Vietnam are endless.

In addition to its natural charm, the park has more ancient historical significance than most other national parks in Vietnam. Many archeological sites, historical relics, and ancient artifacts have been dug up or otherwise discovered in Cat Tien over the years, and history buffs will get a kick out of it.

What to Do in Cat Tien National Park

Compared to the more mountainous central and Northern regions of Vietnam, Cat Tien is quite flat. The vast majority of the trails snaking through the park are still unpaved and not wide enough to support car travel, but it’s a good area for a more relaxing day of motorbike exploration than, say, Cuc Phuong National Park.

Popular activities in Cat Tien include:

  • Bird watching – the park is home to over 350 species of tropical bird species.
  • Visiting Dao Tien endangered primate rescue center.
  • Taking one of the boating tours through the natural canals weaving through the park.
  • Going on a night safari in the park to get a different perspective of its wildlife.
  • Going to the Cat Tien Bear Rescue Center, where you can see Asian black bears and sun bears.

How to Get to Cat Tien National Park

Cat Tien lies between Dalat and Ho Chi Minh City, and you can reach it from either of those cities via highway. If you’re going by motorbike and following Google Maps, be sure to toggle on the “avoid highways and tolls” option, as much of the roads do not allow any vehicles except cars. You’ll also get to enjoy a more scenic route!

Cat tien national park

Can Gio Biosphere

Can Gio isn’t quite as picturesque as the other National Parks on this list, but it’s on here because the drive up there and the time you can spend puttering around the mostly-flat and absolutely huge expanse of green is probably the most freeing motorbike excursion I can remember making in Vietnam.

Of course, the biodiversity of the area is nothing to sneeze at, either. The mangrove forest is absolutely amazing, and the protected areas of the dense forest are home to lots of native species like monkeys, crocodiles, and extraordinary insects.

What to Do in Can Gio Biosphere

Can Gio is pretty much flat and is probably the best park on this list to visit for beginning motorbike riders. There’s also a good amount to do there, including:

  • Visit Can Gio’s Monkey Island to see monkeys and crocodiles.
  • Climb the observation tower in the middle of the park for panoramic vistas of the forest.
  • Take a boat tour to Can Gio floating market.
  • Visit the beach at the tip of Can Gio for some of the best seafood of your life.

How to Get to Can Gio Biosphere

You’ll have to drive to the southern tip of Ho Chi Minh City and take a ferry – the ticket is only 2k VND (less than 10 cents), even with a motorbike. You’ll arrive in a village, and I can’t stress enough how much I enjoy the flat, paved ride from there to the Biosphere 15 km away.

Phu Quoc National Park

The south and west of the Southern Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc are fairly well-established resort areas or urban centers, but the gigantic national parks on the northeast quarter of the huge island is not visited as much. It’s surprising, because the area is one of the most beautiful examples of seaside nature in Vietnam.

Most of the park is covered by one of the country’s last remaining true tropical rainforests, but there are also plenty of beautiful beaches that set Phu Quoc apart from other entries on this list. For those who want to enjoy some sea breeze while engaging in a distinctly Southeast Asian motorbike adventure, this may be your favorite National Park in Vietnam.

What to Do in Phu Quoc National Park

The terrain in Phu Quoc is a bit more hilly than in most of the south, but it’s not too intense. Most of the park is accessible by motorbike.

Popular things to do in the national park include:

  • Riding through fishing villages.
  • Visiting Suoi Tranh waterfall.
  • Lounging on pristine beaches.
  • Trying to spot endemic wildlife, like macaques and squirrels.
  • Support the sea turtle conservation center.
  • Catch a spectacular coastal sunrise.

How to Get to Phu Quoc National Park

Since Phu Quoc is an island a ways away from the mainland, you’ll probably want to fly there and rent a motorbike on Phu Quoc. Once you do, getting to the national park is easy, although the roads will go from paved to unpaved as you approach the park.

The dense forest of Phu Quoc National Park

Honorable Mentions

Vietnam has so many incredible national parks that it was hard to narrow it down to just seven. A few other national parks in Vietnam I almost included in my top seven include:

  • Yok Don National Park – Yok Don is the largest national park in Vietnam. Visitors can trek absolutely vast expanses of jungle and spot some amazing animals like tigers, elephants, and gibbons.
  • Con Dao National Park – Con Dao is one of the most secluded-feeling places in Vietnam. The island has a history as a prison camp, and visitors can almost feel the reflections of the area’s somber past even as they view some of the best beaches in Vietnam and their aquatic wildlife.
  • Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park – Phong Nha Ke Bang national park is home to the world’s largest caves, the largest of which is Son Doong cave. The only reason it’s not one of the seven is because prehistoric caves aren’t the best terrain for motorbikes.
  • Ba Be National Park – Ba Be National park is home to the largest freshwater lake in Vietnam, and it also offers visitors ample opportunity to meet minority tribespeople.
  • Pu Mat National Park – The varied and vast forest of Pu Mat is home to lots of ecosystems and endangered wildlife, including the whimsical-looking grey-shanked duoc langur.

When to Visit National Parks in Vietnam

Lots of people prefer to avoid the extreme heat or the monsoon season when they’re visiting Vietnam. So when should you visit?

Vietnam Weather Chart

This chart gives you an idea of when it’s hot, cold, or just right in the North, South, and Central of the country. You can plan your trip based on what locations you want to visit and what kind of weather you want to experience. 

Weather in Vietnam table

A word on the Rainy Season

road construction combined with rain equals hard driving
road construction combined with rain equals hard driving

The rainy season in Southeast Asia gets a bad rap. It usually rains reliably for a few hours a day, during which time you can duck into a cafe. When the rain stops, the air is cleaner and fresher. The rain also makes the whole country greener, which is especially nice when you’re visiting national parks. Not only that, but wildlife is more active during the rainy season.

So while rain makes terrain a bit muddier and so makes motorbike treks more difficult, it also adds to the beauty of Vietnam. For that reason, I would not discourage people from visiting during the rainy season. In fact, the rainy season is my personal favorite time to explore Vietnam national parks.

Here’s hoping this brief guide will help you to enjoy the natural beauty of Vietnam to its fullest. Safe travels!

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