Bach Ma National Park near Hue, Vietnam is an exciting side trip off the beaten path. Travel in Vietnam is channeled through a few major cities. Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Danang, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, and Hanoi make up the normal circuit for travelers in this country. Then there are the usual side trips from each of these cities like the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Mekong Delta from HCMC, Sapa from Hanoi, and the Perfume River tour outside of Hue. Another side trip that is definitely worth a look is Bach Ma National Park just south of Hue.
Bach Ma is part of the Annamite Mountain range and is the wettest place in Vietnam. The park boosts an amazing array of flora and fauna. 358 bird species can be found within the park, which is one-third the species of birds found inside the country. There are also 31 species of reptile and 132 species of mammals. Tiger and leopard may exist in the park, but if they do no one ever sees them. The park ranger who has worked there for years has not seen one.
Bach Ma is 55km from Hue and there are several options to get to the park. Guided trips can be found in abundance on the internet and in Hue. I rented a moto-bike driver for the day from my hotel and the price was quite steep as the driver had to take me 55km and then hang out all day in the park while he waited for me to complete my hike (he began the hike with me, but begged off after the kilometer 3). The most economical way to visit the park is to rent your own car or moto-bike or take a bus from Hue.
Once inside the park it is a 16km walk to the Bach Ma summit from the gate of the park. A ride to the top costs $20.00. The walk is straight up on a paved pathway to the top of Bach Ma peak. I recommend walking as the trip up is so beautiful. The mountain is over 4,700 feet high, so the trek is not easy, but worth it. Walking through the rainforest is a memory I will not forget.
There are also several small trails that diverge off the main pathway. One of these leads to a waterfall and another leads to a small pond. Take a swim in the small pond if walking as it is crystal clear and very refreshing.
At the top of the peak is an observatory with incredible views of the surrounding mountains and countryside. There are places to stay inside the park and I recommend at least a one night stay as the park deserves at least two days to explore. Check with the ranger at the gate for overnight options.
The best park about Bach Ma is that you will have the National Park practically to yourself. I walked 32kms that day and only saw five people and a car. I saw more species of birds than I did people. Not many places in Asia where one can make that statement.
Written and contributed by travelingted