When you think of Vietnam, it is unlikely the first thing that comes to your mind is the wildlife. Depending on where in the world you are from, you may think of words like “war,” “pho,” or “Ha Long Bay.” Yet, there is so much more to Vietnam than the standard tropes. Instituted in 2011, the new tourism slogan, “Vietnam – Timeless Charm,” adequately describes this country of stunning natural beauty, warm and welcoming people, and abundant wildlife.
Fortunately for this burgeoning Southeast Asian powerhouse, everyday citizens are becoming increasingly more aware of the importance of safeguarding their country’s natural beauty. According to the wildlife advocacy group Education for Nature – Vietnam (ENV), over 500 wild animals were rescued in 2018. Even more, ENV received 819 reports from locals via their hotline, which represents a 17.5% increase over 2017 reports.
The fact is this: While not all of Vietnam’s wildlife exploitation problems have been solved, the country is making great strides. Even better for those visiting the country; the understated aspect of Vietnam wildlife leaves plenty to be discovered far away from the more well-known tourist locations. With an abundance of national parks and wildlife hotspots, eco-conscious travellers looking to wet their wildlife whistle have so much to choose from.
Cuc Phuong National Park
One of the most popular wildlife viewing national parks in Vietnam is undoubtedly the Cuc Phuong National Park. A trip to the northern city of Hanoi would not be complete without making your way 120 kilometres to Cuc Phuong, which holds the title as Vietnam’s oldest national park. Whether you spend time among the majestic limestone mountains towering over a landscape of dense forests and verdant rice terraces or take a rest in one of the stilt-perched homes of the Muong hill tribe, you will not want for things to see within this superbly rich ecosystem.
Expect to encounter over 2,000 species of plant, more than 300 species of bird, and 133 species of mammal. You may even be lucky enough to see a Delacour langur, which is one of the rarest species of primate left on the planet. Cuc Phuong National Park’s Endangered Primate Rescue Center is a must visit, where the langur, black-crested gibbon, and Tonkin snub-nosed monkey find respite from the dangers of the world. To learn more about how you can spend time experiencing the epic nature of northern Vietnamese beauty, simply click here.
Bai Tu Long Bay
Anyone investigating tourist attractions in Vietnam is likely to instantly land on Ha Long Bay. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, Ha Long Bay accommodates more than 6 million tourists per year. Consider this: That is more people than visit Las Vegas in a year! So, step away from the tourist hordes and instead spend some time in Bai Tu Long Bay, which is directly to the northeast of Ha Long Bay.
Bai Tu Long Bay and Bai Tu National Park consists of land and interleaving rock islands housing 178 aquatic plant species, 119 species of fish species, 106 coral species and on and on and on. From Burmese hawks to Japanese eagles and various species of flycatcher, Bai Tu Long Bay and National Park are an eco-tourist’s dream! After you are done taking in the magnificent wildlife, take a moment to relax on the natural, 2-kilometre-long white sand beach in Minh Chau. Rated as one of the most beautiful beaches in the Gulf of Tonkin, you would be remiss if you didn’t take a moment to, well, spend a moment there. Bai Tu Long Bay and the beauty surrounding it awaits you right here.
Vietnamese Karst Formations
When it comes to touring Vietnam, you couldn’t do much better than by boating, cycling, and hiking. Why? Because some of the best sights to see exist on the paths less trodden. The karst landscape of Vietnam rivals just about any other karst landscape in the world, and there are many. Should it be a surprise that there is more than one UNESCO World Heritage site in Vietnam? As you cycle your way down from Hanoi, you will eventually arrive in one of them, Ninh Binh.
The karst mountains around Ninh Binh are simply too impressive not to be seen. Yet, the karst formations themselves are not the main draw. Literally meaning, “The Dancing Caves,” the Mua Caves eco-tourism complex is any eco-traveller’s dream. Whether you take a moment to watch mountain goats fighting, marvel in the stunning vistas that await you, or wait for nightfall when the bats make their presence known, the area around Ninh Binh and the Mua Caves highlights the majesty and natural beauty of Vietnam like no other. Towards the end of your magical Vietnamese adventure, you will visit the historic Cu Chi Tunnels and encounter the thriving metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City.
If there is ever a time to visit Vietnam and uncover the amazing wildlife, stunning scenery, and timeless charm of this blossoming Southeast Asian country, it is now. With a thriving economy, friendly locals, and some of the most delicious food, you are practically guaranteed to leave with love in your heart. Experience the pearl of Asia. Experience Vietnam.