Ba Vi National Park, only 60km to the Western side of Hanoi, was originally a French Hill Station. Now it is a popular weekend getaway destination to escape the city hustle. The National Park is located on the Ba Vi mountain, which is an isolated soil limestone mountain and the Park’s main attraction. The three peaked mountain is to more that 1200m above sea level. Three of the tallest mountains that you can find in the region include the Ngoc Hoa, Tan Vien and Dinh Vua. Together they make up a three humped crest which more often than not, can’t be seen because of clouds. Due to the hill atmosphere, the temperature at here would change at a rapid pace. Therefore, you will need to be ready for it to avoid negative consequences.
Ba Vi Mountain has been attracting tourists and nature enthusiasts for years; travelling by car takes about 2 hours or you can always opt to travel by bus. However, to fully explore the park and it’s surrounding areas a motorbike would be your best bet! If you don’t own a bike you can always rent one for a day or two. Unlike most other parks in Vietnam, Ba Vi allows you to take your bike inside the park. Before leaving for the park make sure you’ve packed a light weight back pack filled with necessary items such as: swimwear, sun cream, sunglasses, anti bug spray (try to get one that works on leeches as well, since you will come across plenty of them), a towel and a reusable water bottle. You could also pack some sandwiches and lemonade for the long journey.
Once you’ve arrived at the park and paid your entrance fee, grab a map from the counter or if you are unable to find one then just take a picture of the main map. It is vital you do this, as the park is huge and if you don’t know where you’re going it’s easy to get lost. Plus, the staff at the Park speak very little English. From the main entrance there’s two ways you could go, you can choose to ascend the mountain or to the left you will find the entrance to Thien Son where there is a water park and the Thien Son Waterfall – more on this to follow.
If you have decided to ascend the mountain range there are a variety of activities for you to choose from. Hence, it is worth to travel here just to achieve that feeling of peacefulness and of course hiking up a mountain is an accomplishment in itself. When you climb high up, the more you will fall in love with your surroundings as it really is breathtakingly beautiful! The natural forest at Ba Vi is mainly located at elevation above 600m, most of it is forest. Information about trees that you can see in here are marked for your convenience as well. (it’s a good idea to download a translation app onto your phone before leaving for the park).
On your way to the top you will end up making numerous stops at streams or to go through the hidden mountains. There is a possibility for you to see an orchid garden, which is located at an altitude of over 800m above sea level. You will also be able to discover an old church, which is used by French Colonials.
Once you come to the top, you will be able to find two different hikes at mountain top temples, one of which has 1300 or more steps! Den Thuong (Mountain God Temple) has about 650 steps to top and the stairs get trickier progressively leading to an exhaustive climb. The second hike leads to a temple called Bac Ho and despite there being more stairs, they are evenly spaced and flatter with plenty of benches and tables to rest at, along the way thereby making it the less tiring one to reach. The highlight of reaching the top of the temples is the spectacular view of the valleys and rivers below. The panoramic view of the Red River Valley and beyond truly makes the climb worth your time and effort.
Other than the temples, Ba Vi National Park has got a large number of animals that are endangered. They include a large number of birds as well. The mammals and squirrels hold a prominent lace out of them. In addition, you can discover a large number of medicinal plants, which can only be found in this region. The Park offers lodging at Tan Dan Spa Resort which looks like an ancient French palace and you can experience hot springs, mud baths and much more! You could also choose to camp at the top and spend the night stargazing (perfect for couples on their honeymoon).
The famous Thien Son Waterfall is not within the park but can be accessed from the primary entrance, there is however a separate fee to enter the waterfall and park area. You can easily spend an entire day here so the fee seems worth it, and there are plenty of shady spots for a good picnic lunch. There are two waterfalls that from a clear blue pool of refreshing water where you can spend some quality time relaxing and swimming before you head off to the waterslides and pools.
At the base of the summit you will find about six restaurants and a tennis court as well. It’s easy to spend an entire weekend at Ba Vi without getting bored. If you are interested in avoiding crowds, the off season of the park, which is from to March and the atmosphere is desirably tranquil which is perfect to spend time in peaceful reflection.