Nam Cat Tien is known as a small village of Tan Phu District, Dong Nai province, where Cat Tien National Park – one of the world’s biosphere reserves is located. In recent years the forest has become one of the exciting destinations for those who love wildlife and wish to enjoy something rural and natural. Nam Cat Tien Travel Guide is supposed to make your journey easier and more unforgettable.
There are two cheap bus lines providing transport services for the route from Saigon to Nam Cat Tien, consisting of Kim Hoan (Tel: (+84) 613 791 133), and Be Company (Tel: (+84) 613 795 421). Those two buses depart from Mien Dong Station in Ho Chi Minh City and arrive in the entrance of Cat Tien National Park. It just costs VND80,000/ticket.
However, if you want to take a more comfortable seat with more legroom, Phuong Trang or Thanh Buoi is considered as a perfect choice. Catch the bus from Phuong Trang at 272 De Tham Street, District 1 (Tel: (+84) 08 920 6571) or from Thanh Buoi at 266 – 268 Le Hong Phong Street, Ward 4, District 5 (Tel: (+84) 8 38306306). It is about twice as much as the bus fare of Kim Hoan or Be Company. One minus point is that Phuong Trang and Thanh Buoi will drop you off at Tan Phu Town, where you must take an approximately 45 minute taxi drive to reach the entrance of Cat Tien National Park.
If you wish to have a flexible travel plan, motorbike will be better. However, make sure your driving skill must be good enough since traffic in Vietnam is quite challenging to newbies. Hire one in Ho Chi Minh City or head towards Dong Nai Province. Follow the following route:
The Saigon backpacker area (Bui Vien Street) -> District 2 -> Hanoi Highway -> Pass Suoi Tien Theme Park -> Cross Dong Nai Bridge -> Go straight and see the roundabout in the center of Bien Hoa City (Dong Nai Province) -> Keep going straight until Dau Day Junction -> Turn left to National Route 20 -> Ta Lai Junction in Tan Phu Town -> Turn left to Ta Lai Road. Pay attention to direction sighs at two sides of the road. It is not hard to hit the destination, but in case you are lost, you should ask the locals for right directions. The distance from Saigon to Cat Tien National Park is about 150 – 160 kilometers.
The entrance fee is VND40,000/visitor, but it is higher in holidays.
It is supposed that from December to May is the best time to visit the park since there is less rain, more convenient for traveling around and taking sightseeing tours during that period. Not only that, the wildlife’s life will be discovered more easily when you set foot in the forest in those months.
Bau Sau (Crocodile Lake)
Crocodile Lake is one of the best spots you must discover in Nam Cat Tien National Park. Why? It is attractive not only because its wildlife landscapes are like found in an ethereal wonderland, but also it will let you directly peer down at the life of over 200 crocodiles in a small lake. After crossing the river by boat (included in the ticket price), you will arrive at the reception desk to buy the ticket to Bau Sau. Then, a jeep picks you up and takes you to the beginning of a trail. From here, you must go on a 5km trek to the crocodile lake. One plus point is the abundance of specialty dishes made by the forest rangers. It is great to try one.
Dao Tien (Endangered Primate Rescue Center)
Dao Tien means an island of fairies in Vietnamese, but the truth is that it is a specialized zone in the forest, where different species of primate have been rescued and protected. After being taken to the zone by boat, you will be guided by a professional tour guide as well as a volunteer in the project of protecting the wildlife whereby you know more how wild animals are threatened and ways they are helped to regain instincts for survival.
Discovering the life of wild animals at night
Compared to the forest many years ago, it nowadays is not rich in fauna anymore because of the humans’ awareness of protecting the wildlife. However, it will be a fairly good experience to see the life of some wild animals at night. You are picked up at the reception desk and driven to the area of wild animals. It costs about VND150,000/ticket.
Cycling around Nam Cat Tien Village
In the early morning (5:30AM – 7:00AM) or the late afternoon (about 5:00PM) is supposed to be the best time to travel around Nam Cat Tien Village by bicycle. It is a chance for you to witness rural charms of rice paddy fields, lush gardens, and the life of locals.
If you take the trip in the morning, you will perceive a peaceful life spreading each corner of the village paths. Do not miss a visit to Nam Cat Tien Market, where you can find something special for your breakfast. Especially, food sold in the market is made from fresh ingredients the locals plant in their gardens, so it is luscious and amazing to enjoy. Let’s try corn milk, wet cake, sweet soup, dumplings, steamed pork rolls, and banh mi.
For an afternoon cycling trip, you should head toward Hamlet 2, Hamlet 3, where there are beautiful rice paddies and maybe you visit the pagoda with a giant Buddhist statue there.
In recent years, plenty of accommodations with related service around Cat Tien National Park have been built for tourism’s development. Hence, it is not so difficult to book a hotel or guesthouse reservation before starting the trip. If you travel in normal days, no need of booking in advance. Just come and ask for the accommodation.
– Green Hope Lodge: around USD7 – USD40/night. Tel: (+84) 97 218 46 83
– Cat Tien Forest Call Lodge: around USD4 – USD34/night. Tel: (+84) 251 3669 950
– Cat Tien Jungle Lodge: around USD 82 – USD225/night. Tel: (+84)2 51 3664 888
– River Lodge: around USD7 – USD36/night. Tel: (+84) 4 852 05 29
– Green Bamboo Lodge Resort: around USD 4 – USD55/night. Tel: (+84) 97 334 63 45