Bach Ma National Park is a protected area in central Vietnam, about an hour drive from Hue.
The park covers 220 square kilometers and was created in 1991 to protect the center of the last corridor of forest stretching from the East Sea to the border with Laos. It reaches a peak of 1450m at Bach Ma Mountain, only 18km from the coast. In 1932, the summit was selected by the French to become a hill station for the colonial administration of Hue. As a result, a village including 139 villas and hotels was built, making it became the “Dalat of central Vietnam”. Nowadays, there are only some stone walls of these villas still remain intact while most of them were affected by the fights of the Viet Minh who tried to spoil the holiday of the French colonialists.
Bach Ma National Park is home to more than 1400 plant species, 233 species of birds and 55 species of mammals including the rare ones like the antelope-like saola, Truong Son muntjac and the giant muntjac. As most of the park’s resident mammals are nocturnal, sightings demand a great deal of effort and patience. Bird-watching is fantastic, but you need to be up at dawn for the best chance of glimpsing. Tourists can book bird-watching tours with English or French speaking guides. Unexploded ordnance is still in the area, so stick to the trails. Cars and motorbikes are not permitted inside the national park.
The road to the summit has recently been upgraded. At the visitor center by the park entrance you’ll find a small exhibition on the park’s flora and fauna, and hiking trail booklets. Of the several hiking trails, the Rhododendron Trail (from Km 10 on the road) leads to the upper reaches of a spectacular waterfall. The Five Lakes Trail passes pools for swimming before you reach a smaller waterfall. The short Summit Hike takes you to a viewpoint with magnificent views over the forest, Cau Hai lagoon and the coast.
Bach Ma is the wettest place in Vietnam, with the heaviest of the rain falling in October and November (and bringing out the leeches). The best time to visit Bach Ma is from February to September, particularly between March and June.