Designated as Vietnam’s eighth national park in 1992 and covering an area of about one hundred square kilometres, Ba Be is a region of astounding beauty, from the lush vegetation mirrored in the lake’s still waters to towering limestone pinnacles that reach over 1500m. The main attractions for visitors are boat trips to visit caves, waterfalls and minority villages, with the added bonus of seeing at least a few of the 220 animal, 417 plant and 49 fish species recorded here. Bears, tigers and one of Vietnam’s rarest and most endangered primates, the Tonkin snub-nosed langur (Rhinopithecus avunculus), live in a few isolated communities on the fringes of the park, but nearer the lake there’s a good chance of spotting the more common macaque monkeys, herons and garrulous, colourful flocks of parrots. Few people are around to disturb the wildlife and outside the months of July and August, when Hanoians take their holidays, you’ll usually find only a handful of tourists. What puts some people off Ba Be is difficulty of access by public transport, but if you join a tour or hire your own transport in Hanoi it becomes easier to justify, especially when combined with a visit to a minority market. Even then, though, a two-night stay is sufficient for most people.

Ba Be Lake

Vietnam’s largest natural lake, Ho Ba Be forms the core of the delightful Ba Be National Park, a feast of limestone and tropical forest. Enclosed by steep, densely wooded slopes breaking out here and there into white limestone cliffs, the lake is 7km long, up to 30m deep and a kilometre wide in parts. A few islands decorate the surface.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Vietnam features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The truth about elephant tourism in Asia

The truth about elephant tourism in Asia

Elephants are born free, but are everywhere in chains – and it’s tourism which is increasingly to blame. Riding an elephant used to be on every visitor’s …

25 Nov 2016 • Gavin Thomas insert_drive_file Article
9 tips for backpacking Vietnam

9 tips for backpacking Vietnam

With striking landscapes, large stretches of lovely coastline, intriguing cities and excellent food, it’s no wonder the number of tourists in Vietnam has more…

18 Jul 2016 • Helen Abramson insert_drive_file Article
Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City: where should you visit first?

Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City: where should you visit first?

Situated at the northern and southern extremes of this long, thin country, Vietnam’s two main cities lie over a thousand kilometres apart. Southern Ho Chi …

13 Jan 2016 • Helen Abramson insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month