Cat Tien National Park Highlights & Travel Guide

 

Introduction

Cat Tien National Park, located in southern Vietnam, is a colorful mix of lowland tropical forests and swamp eco-systems. This sanctuary is a biodiversity hotspot, preserving one of Vietnam's largest expanses of lowland tropical forests.
Cat Tien was established in 1992 as part of the broader Dong Nai Biosphere Reserve, which is known for its diverse flora and fauna.  It's a site where nature's history and present intersect, providing a unique glimpse into Vietnam's ecological and cultural heritage. Whether you're a birdwatcher, a wildlife enthusiast, or just looking for some peace and quiet in nature, Cat Tien National Park is a must-see site.
 
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Nam Cat Tien - Photo : Mr Linh's adventure

 

Cat Tien: Location and access

Nam Cat Tien is located about 150 km northeast of Ho Chi Minh City and 1 300 km southeast of Hanoi, Cat Tien National Park is a vast natural tapestry in the provinces of Dong Nai, Lam Dong and Binh Phuoc. Covering an area of over 720 km2, this verdant oasis is a true paradise for nature lovers. It abounds in exceptional biodiversity and offers a multitude of activities and discoveries for a memorable stay.

How to get to Cat Tien from Hanoi

You'll need to take a flight to Saigon and from there follow the instructions below to reach Cat Tien Park. Alternatively, you can land in Da Lat and take a bus to the park (allow around 3.5 hours to cover the 175 km distance).

How to get to Cat Tien from Ho Chi Minh City

Bus: Every day, direct buses travel the approximate 4-hour distance between Cat Tien and the Mien Dong bus terminal, counter #5. Although a sleeper bus ticket costs 230,000 VND, a bus ticket costs roughly 180,000 VND, but the travel is far more comfortable and peaceful. The disadvantage of taking a larger bus is that it drops you off at the major highway's 600A to Cat Tien crossroads (QL20). You will either need to ride a motorcycle or call a cab to go to your lodging from here. You can take a taxi for roughly 400,000 VND each way, or you can walk 16 km. If you are staying in Cat Tien, the transportation may be taken care of by your accommodation, so you won't have to worry about local taxi drivers taking advantage of you. Make sure you check this before you depart!
Cab: Faster but more expensive option (approx. 3-hour journey).
 
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Cat Tien National Park - Photo : Mr Linh's adventure


Getting around the park

Given the park's vast size and diverse terrain, there are various means of transport to explore every corner of this exceptional site:
You can walk from the forest headquarters to Bau Sau.
You can cycle (especially during the dry season) and then continue walking along the jungle trails. Bicycle rental costs: around VND 100,000 to 150,000 per bike.
You can even consider renting a car if you like, which costs around VND 500,000 per round trip (for 5 to 7 people).

The ideal season to enjoy Cat Tien

The best time to visit Cat Tien is during the dry season, from November to April. You'll enjoy clear skies, pleasant temperatures and less frequent rainfall. February and March coincide with the orchid blossoming season, a breathtaking sight.
You can also opt for the wet season, from May to November, which is warmer and wetter, but also offers magnificent green landscapes.
Do not miss our guide : When to travel to Vietnam?

How long to stay?

We recommend spending at least 2 or 3 days in the park to explore its main attractions.

Where to stay in Nam Cat Tien

Numerous lodging alternatives may be found strewn along the park's perimeter, which is the margin of the Dong Nai River. The boat that crosses the river to enter the park is only a short stroll from each of them.

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Trekking in Cat Tien National Park - Photo : Mr Linh's adventure


Cat Tien, the ultimate treasure hunt

What to see and do in Cat Tien National Park?

Extraordinary flora and fauna

Let yourself be enchanted by the diversity of animal and plant species, from the majestic Javan rhinoceros to agile primates and a myriad of melodious birds. Monkeys, gibbons, birds and, if you're lucky, the Javan rhinoceros, might just delight you with an appearance.

Hiking and trekking

Explore winding trails through the rainforest, cross peaceful rivers and climb hills to admire breathtaking, serene panoramas.

Birdwatching

Cat Tien is a paradise for birdwatchers, with over 350 species recorded. Grab your binoculars and set off to meet our colorful feathered friends (preferably between February and April).

Bird Lake

Speaking of birds, this is the perfect place to observe the orange-necked partridge, one of the rare species of birds that inhabit the park.

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The famous Cat Tien Crocodile - Photo : Mr Linh's adventure


Bau Sau - Crocodile Lake

Probably one of the most popular tourist sites in Cat Tien National Park. It is a vast wetland inhabited by numerous birds and other animals.
The Siamese crocodile is the most emblematic animal of this amazing site. To reach Bau Sau, you'll need to hire a jeep from the forest management council center. Drive about ten kilometers, then finish with a 5-kilometer hike through primary forest. It's a charming trail through magnificent tropical jungle. The fauna and vegetation are very diverse, and there are plenty of opportunities to encounter monkeys, langurs and birds. As you follow the winding path, you'll be amazed by the beauty of the primary forest, the imposing trunks of the trees and the stalks of Lagerstroemia.
Did you know? If you get to the lake before dawn, you'll have a different view of the park's flora and fauna. If you prefer a "normal" time, a boat trip on the lake will allow you to observe the park's feathered inhabitants. In the evening, however, you'll be able to watch the wild animals come up to the lake to drink, while listening to the enchanting sounds of the forest.
Last but not least, a boat trip on the lake offers a unique relaxing experience, surrounded by majestic and poetic nature, with crocodiles gliding silently around you.

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Gibbon in Cat Tien - Photo : Mr Linh's adventure

Primate Sanctuary - Dao Tien Island

The Primate Sanctuary is located on Dao Tien Island, about five minutes by boat from beautiful Dao Tien Island. It is an important refuge for endangered primates, such as the silver langur, the little loris and the yellow-cheeked gibbon. An excellent way to see and learn about these adorable primates is to visit the center. Note that a special itinerary has been mapped out for observing wild gibbons.
Did you know? In Dao Tien, there's also a semi-wild park where rescued animals are left alone before heading off to one of Vietnam's national parks.
Good to know : Entrance fee: 400,000 VND (approx. 17USD) 200,000 VND (i.e. $8) for children (3-15 years). Free for children under 3.

Bear rescue station

this is one of the places in Nam Cat Tien National Park that children love best. If you're planning a family trip to Vietnam, you can add this national park to your list of destinations. You can see bears in distress or injured taken care of and treated well so that they can grow and develop to the best of their ability by visiting the bear rescue station. The bears at the rescue station are extremely active thanks to the care they receive.

Giant Tung Tree

The Giant Tung Tree is located in Cat Tien National Park, home to over 1,600 plant species. Measuring 20 metres high and 10 metres wide, the Giant Tung Tree is one of many large trees that are hundreds of years old. The tree's roots snake along the ground like a great python. Many other large trees in the forest require three or four people to hug their trunks.

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Bau Sau - Photo : Mr Linh's adventure


Visit the Ben Cu waterfall

In the past, Vietnamese soldiers would gather here to transport supplies like food and medicine. Additionally, in 1978, the Nam Cat Tien Forbidden Forest's first ranger post was built there. You may relax under old trees and enjoy a conversation while observing animals that clamber up the branches, making this the perfect spot for camping in Cat Tien National Park.
You must rent a car and use one of the two routes listed below in order to see Ben Cu:
-Ben Cu waterfall, Bac Dong tree, and Tung old tree are all accessible by car for 480,000 VND ($20.7); 630,000 VND ($27.2); and 780,000 VND ($33.6).
-The Tung old tree, the Ben Cu waterfall, the Bac Dong tree, the Loc giao banyan, and the Hundred-stemmed Acacia Lake can all be reached with a car for 1,600,000 VND ($69); a car for 2,350,000 VND ($102); and a car for 2,850,000 VND (20 seats- $123).

Discover local culture in the Ta Lai ethnic village

The Ta Lai ethnic village – also known as Ta Lai Longhouse - is a community-based tourism model located in the national park. You can explore the history and traditional culture of the Ma, Stieng and Tay peoples by visiting the Ta Lai ethnic village. By staying in the "longhouse", a must-see feature of the village, you'll gain a better understanding of the lifestyle and cultural practices of the ethnic populations. You may want to engage in a variety of fascinating outdoor pursuits, like strolling to Green Hill, touring the coffee and cocoa gardens, river kayaking, or cycling through the hamlet to take in the serene gardens in the early light. In particular, this location hosts extracurricular kid-focused events including Easter Kid Camp, which is open to kids aged 6 to 12, and Talai Teenager Camp, which is open to students aged 12 to 15, along with community service projects.
Ta Lai offers a magnificent open-air playground, perfect for cycling through rubber plantations and meadows, and enjoying the majestic and exotic landscape. Ta Lai is also the perfect place for rock-climbers and mountain climbers.

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Dong Nai River - Photo : Mr Linh's adventure


Boat trip on the Dong Nai River

The Dong Nai River offers a tranquil setting for a boat trip. You'll have the chance to admire the splendid scenery and contemplate the aquatic animals.

Mountain-biking and kayaking

For thrill-seekers, mountain-biking and kayaking excursions allow you to experience adventure in the heart of the wilderness.

Cat Tien: practical information

Opening hours: daily from 7 a.m. to 6 :30 p.m.
- Adult: 60,000 VND/person ($2.6)
- Children: 10,000 VND/person ($0.4)
- Student 20,000 VND/person ($0.9)
 · Official Website
Good to know: It's advisable to choose comfortable clothing suitable for walking in the forest, as well as rain and sun protection. In addition, if possible, opt for guided excursions to gain valuable experience and deepen your understanding of the natural environment.

In conclusion

A visit to Cat Tien National Park is a must for nature and adventure enthusiasts. Offering a wide range of activities and discoveries, Cat Tien offers a memorable stay in the heart of a remarkable natural environment.
So... when are you packing your bags?
 
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