Cat Ba National Park
Cat Ba National Park is home to 20 types of mammals - including Francois monkeys, wild boar, deer, squirrels and hedgehogs - and 69 species of birds have sighted, including hawks, hornbills and cuckoos. Cat Ba lies on a major migration route for waterfowl (ducks, geese and shorebirds) who feed and roost in the mangrove forests and on the beaches. The 745 species of plans recorded on Cat Ba include 118 timber species and 160 plants with medicinal value. There are currently around 45 parks rangers stationed to protect the flora and fauna.
There is a hardcore 18 km (5 to 6 hours) hike through the park that many enjoy. You need a guide, bus transport to the trailhead and a boat to return - all of these can be easily arranged at the hotels in Cat Ba. The hike includes a visit to Viet Hai, a remote minority village. If you’re planning on doing this hike, equip yourself with a generous supply of water (2L in summer) plus some food, as there are no opportunities (yet) to buy supplies en route.
Camping is allowed in the park, but you’ll need to bring all your own gear.
Two caves in the national park are open to visitors. One has been preserved in its natural state, while the other has historical significance it served as a secret, bomb-proof hospital during the American War.
The park is home to a unique species of tree called Cay Kim Giao (for aspiring horticulturist the Latin name is Podocarpus fleuryi Hickel). In ancient days kings and nobles would only eat with chopsticks made from this lumber; anything poisonous it touches really does turn the light colored wood to back!