Bach Ma National Park has gained its popularity with temperate climate, well preserved rainforest, rich fauna and flora and stunning landscape. This is a wonderful paradise for nature lovers for a truly eco-escape, hiking and camping, during the round trip in Vietnam. However, due to limited services from the park or improper planning, travelers may find it hard to achieve a fulfilling exploration. We prepare these Frequently-Asked-Questions for YOU, travel consultants, agents, and travelers, to know what to expect and our recommendations to enjoy the best out of this hidden gem.
What is special about Bach Ma National Park?
Bach Ma National Park is a beautiful, semi-tropical forest with high biodiversity in Hue, Central Vietnam. Thanks to breathtaking mountain scenery, waterfalls, and lush vegetation, it’s a must-see destination for nature lovers, birdwatching, and photography enthusiasts. Early 20th century, French colonists developed Bach Ma as a hill station, which now left a scenic paved road of 19km to the top, dotted with a dozen of French villas in good shape.
Rarely you can find such a natural gem with easy access, less than two hours from the main tourist hub as Bach Ma (between Hue and Hoi An). Especially during hot summertime, this green heaven is a great place to escape and cool off during the round trip. Stretched over an area of 37,487ha, Bach Ma NP is one of 200 most important eco-parks in the world. It still retains a quite good amount of immense primeval forest between 1000 to 1500m altitude, more flowering trails than any other NP in Vietnam, with diverse flora and fauna, amazing creatures, in which 93 species appear on the Vietnamese Red List and Global Red List: Red-shanked douc, pheasants, leopard.
When is the best time to visit?
While the park is accessible all year round, the best time to visit Bach Ma is from March to September, out of the rainy season. From the end of September to December, Bach Ma has a high rainfall which affects the view, though it is quieter with abundant wildlife. Hiking in the rainy season is more challenging with high water in the streams and more slippery.
How to add Bach Ma into Vietnam itinerary?
Bach Ma National Park suits anyone who looks for an eco-break during the trip to central Vietnam, between Hue and Da Nang/Hoi An. You can add one extra day or two for Bach Ma starting and ending in Hue or Hoi An, Da Nang. For day trip, we recommend only starting and ending in Hue, for less time driving and more time in the National Park.
This ecotourism experience may not be for any first timer to Vietnam who are on a 9-day round trip from North to South unless they are preferring more nature escape. It is not solely reserved for tourists with special interests (wildlife, bird watching, adventure hiking). The forested mountains have diverse beauties to charm all nature lovers.
How much time is required to explore Bach Ma National Park?
It is feasible to make a Bach Ma Nature Hike for a day trip departing and returning to Hue or departing from Hue (1.5 hours drive to the park entrance) and ending in Da Nang/Hoi An (3.5 hours from the park entrance) or v.v. However, most travelers would still feel a miss as there is much more to see in such a limited time with rush pace.
On a day trip, everyone will visit the same places and hike popular trails: one short hike to the summit with the Sea Observatory Tower “Hai Vong Dai” at 1450m above sea level, then meandering the Five Lake trails and Do Quyen Waterfall. Three stops, 5-7km hike with lunch break, maybe sometime to swim and leave the park before it gets foggy on the descent drive. More importantly, you are not at the best place at the best time and get off from the crowd.
We find it more rewarding if you take a two-day soft adventure, with one night camping near the peak.
Why is a two-day Bach Ma Nature Immersion much better?
It gives you more time to explore at your own pace, immersing yourself in nature with all your five senses. You can depart in the morning from your chosen hotel in Hue and finish the expedition around noon on the following day. There is enough time for a scenic drive to Hoi An via Hai Van “Ocean Cloud pass, with a stop at Lap An lagoon, Lang Co Beach or a boat drive on Cau Hai lagoon followed with a seafood homey lunch at a local fisherman’s home. Authentic and immersive! All hiking is from easy to moderate, at 5-7km enroute per day, with various vegetation, topography. You alternate the option, tour order to adapt to your physical and weather conditions.
Spending one out-of-the-ordinary night camping near the peak, you truly feel a disruption with the hustle, digitalized life to savor the breath of nature. In the morning, wake up in the forested atmosphere and admire the stunning sunrise with a panoramic view over the lagoon and the sea.
This option also helps you explore more beautiful trails, at a relaxing pace and enjoy a more peaceful time with nature. A wonderful eco-break between hectic travel, with many opportunities for “forest bathing”, swimming in natural streams, the fragrant source of legendary Perfume River.
Where do we stay, what food do we eat?
There are some guest houses and French villas, but the rooms are basic and not well maintained. Homestay at the foot is not ideal as you must travel up and down in two days (19km paved road, 45 minutes per way) and miss the sunrise or the best moment.
As part of the nature immersion concept, sleeping in a tent is highly recommended. There is a well-planned campsite with running water, electricity, and sanitary facilities. The tents are put on a flat, well-paved square with sufficient camping amenities for a good night’s sleeping. Slow Travel Hue brings along essential camping gear to make your evening comfortable and enjoyable. All your big luggage can be kept with your vehicle. The campsite has security supervision.
Regarding the food, guests can take some quick dishes to the park canteen on foot or to one of the villas near the top. There is limited choice, and the quality is just acceptable. We prefer preparing the food for the picnic and for cooking at the campsite, as we can cater to all special diet requests. Thanks to local expertise, we can forage some wild leaves and green tea mushrooms which are interesting to add in your noodles or roll with grilled pork, if you like.
Who is best suited for Bach Ma Nature Immersion?
Everyone with love and some experience with nature and basic agility can do. Families with kids from 6-year-old with some hiking skills are welcome. (Actually, we already hosted families with kids of 4-year-old. We provided a child back carrying up to 25kg, but they only use a short part, just for fun. The kids handled it well, even across the most challenging trails of Five Lakes).
Senior travelers, physically fit, will do well as we go slowly and there are many alternative trails for them to choose.
Which part is most challenging? How to describe and what to avoid?
The Five Lakes Trails may be the most challenging. It is about 5km from the starting point and ending at the top of Do Quyen waterfall. You start with a descending, beautiful path through the forest made from natural stone with bamboo on either side, safe and well-trodden. The regular trail will take you some way above the stream with some parts being narrow and you should watch your step but nothing you couldn’t do with at least some hiking experience. It is safe even for children if they have some form of sports experience. (Testimonial of a family with two kids 8/11, living in Austria). There are some little bridges approximately 4m long with handrails and a 20 cm wide walkway to cross. You need decent shoes (i.e., hiking shoes with grip or sport/sneaker at least, no flip-flop) and watch your step. The tricky parts are all secured with ropes and ladders for extra grip.
At the fourth lake, you can swim in a safe pool with emerald water, which is a bit cold. Continue to the Rhododendron “Do Quyen” Falls with two streams to cross on the way. It is easy going in dry seasons since there are bridges and supporting ropes. After the two stream crossings, it is a fairly easy walk, well signed out, to rhododendron falls. Spectacular view and wonderful location.
In all, the most important thing to remember is good shoes, watch your steps, go slowly, use secured rope for extra grip. We provide gloves, hiking poles on request. When taking ascend hike, just make small step, breath and go with your own pace.
DO NOT cross the stream in floods or high water. Our guide and park specialist will inform you before the hike. You can either choose to go back track from the Five Lakes to the starting point (1.6km) or skip this trail.
DO NOT go to the foot of Rhododendron “Do Quyen” Falls, 300m drop. You can enjoy beautiful vistas or swim from the top, but we advise against hiking down the trail which leads to the bottom of the waterfall. It is just for nice photos but not worth the effort. This trail is 689 steps down then up the same way, the steep is over sized, and the handrails are rusty, unmaintained.
What are the Plus Plus from Slow Travel Hue?
Loyal to our core values “Nature, Happiness, Sustainability”, we put and focus on bringing “fun, safe, learning” experiences for everyone. We only take private and small groups, with possible customization to ensure sufficient care and privacy.
Safe guiding and educational engagement: Beside a dedicated professional guide, there is a park specialist to accompany the group, to share in-depth knowledge of fauna and flora, nature preservation and help with safe, adaptive measures when necessary. This all represents a high part of our costing; however, we believe it is worthy to grant a genuine eco-tourism experience, guests’ satisfaction and positive impacts for the park and involved people.
Door-to-door transportation: We provide pick-up and drop-off from the hotel in Hue or extra transfer from Hoi An, Da Nang. The vehicle will go up to the top of the national park and be available during the trip. Guests do not need to take all the luggage with them during the hiking or camping trip. We don’t drop guests at the park entrance to walk up a 19km paved road, or book on a shared vehicle. Guests have a private vehicle at their service to be available at different pick-up point during the expedition.
We cater for all food and special diets of the travelers. With sufficient equipment and fresh ingredients, guests can enjoy quality and tasty food experiences for two days (Picnic lunch, dinner, breakfast, tea coffee fruit and cake). We highly welcome guests to take part in preparing the food and to make their outdoor activity more convivial and interactive.
It is ideal to spend a peaceful night at the campsite under the tent. We add much equipment to help guests find romance in nature. However, in case of rain, we know how to manage with back-up, safe shelter.
Many happy surprises, special treats, attention for families with kids will be unveiled along the way. We are very flexible to accommodate guest interest and hiking wishes because the main objective is connectedness with nature rather than sport activities.
We take more pro-environmental practices such as avoiding single-use plastic, bringing refilling bottles and reusable utensils, dishes and bowls, and cookware. Let’s relieve the burden on Mother Nature and the travel pain from eco-conscious travelers.
What should guests bring?
A good mood, activeness, and excitement to embrace the beauty of nature whether it shines or rains.
For safe hiking, guests should prepare decent shoes and clothing. Proper hiking shoes or sport shoes with grip to support the ankle. Flip-flops are a no-go. You need a long-sleeved shirt, long socks (bring extra pairs) and long pants, to cover well away from the leeches and scratches. Bring sunscreen/hat on hot days, a waterproof light backpack for your camera or mobile phone just in case you slip and get wet. A refillable bottle is highly recommended, and you can refill it at the beginning of each hike.
We prepare: First aid kits, insect repellent spray, rain gear, hiking poles, gloves, waterproof shoe boots, cover for adults, essential camping amenities with sleeping bags, mats, tents, folding chairs, tables, lighting…
A reminder of Nature Immersion benefits for everyone.
Finally, we would like to remind you that Worldwide, countries are gradually losing their ecosystems, as natural landscapes are being replaced by human-built features and infrastructures. This leads to a disengagement from nature as individuals spend a greater amount of time in built environments and engaging in technology-based activities.
Recent years have seen a rise in nature immersion programs that make use of Forest Therapy, Forest Bathing “Shinrin-Yoku”, which can improve physiological functioning through forest exposure, as observed from the decrements in heart rate, blood pressure and salivary cortisol in related experimental studies. Mentally, nature helps to decrease depression and pain and increase health-related quality of life.
Therefore, Slow Travel Hue will carefully prepare all the essential facilities and personnel to bringing out the benefits of exposure to nature, safe and learning experiences for all conscious travelers than running mass, fast and cost saving hiking trip. Please choose one of below favorite options or enquire us further for more customised Nature Immersion around Hue, Central Vietnam.