Belonging to Cat Ba island, Cat Ba National Park incorporates some of the small islands and marine water and covers 26,300 ha, in which 17,300 ha is on the main island and 9,000 ha is of the adjacent inshore waters. Cat Ba’s beautiful national park is home to 32 species of mammal, including most of the world’s 65 remaining golden-headed langurs, the world’s most endangered primate. The landscape of Cat Ba National Park is dominated by karst limestone areas on the main island where there are numerous waterfalls, caves and grottoes. The rugged topography is marked by steep outcrops and bare rock areas with many seasonal streams such as Thung Luong, Treo Com, Hoi Trung Trang and Viet Hai.
Due to the abundance of suitable moist niches within the limestone forest, Cat Ba National Park has a rich and plentiful snail fauna. It supports a diversity of natural habitats, including forested hills, small freshwater lakes, freshwater swamp forest, mangroves, sandy beaches and coral reefs. In detailed, among 839 vascular plant species have been recorded at the national park, there are 25 species listed in the Red Data Book of Vietnam.
Not only those typical characteristics, Cat Ba National park has been considered as a cradle of culture with many traces of ancient humans. Stone tools and bones found at the sites indicate that primitive man was living in the caves and grottoes on the island between 6,000 and 7,000 years ago. The example is Cai Beo Cave which is about 1.5 km south-east of Cat Ba Town, has been studied intensively.
A guide is not mandatory but is definitely recommended. Many visitors opt to visit the park on an organised tour from Cat Ba Town, but you can also arrange guides at the park headquarters.
Take proper hiking shoes, a raincoat and a generous supply of water for the Viet Hai hike. This is not an easy walk, and best avoided during the wet season or after rain.
Of the mammals present in the park, the more commonly seen include macaques, deer, civets and several species of squirrel, including the giant black squirrel. Seventy bird species have been spotted here, including hawks, hornbills and cuckoos.