Ba Be National Park is located in Bac Kan Province, in the northeast of Vietnam. This place owns a picturesque Ba Be Lake which is 8km long, 800m wide, 29m deep, and at the elevation of 178m. While Ba Be Lake is a beautiful and touristy natural lake with special importance in Vietnam, the National Park conserves karst topography, diverse terraces, lakes, and forest.

Ba Be National Park is one of natural destinations that Vietnam travel agency includes in hot ecotour programs.

Scientific Information about Ba Be National Park

  • Ba Be is located in Nam Mau, Khang Ninh, Cao Thuong, Quang Khe, and Cao Tri communes, Ba Be District, Bac Kan Province. Ba Be Lake is set in the center of the Park. Elevations of this region range from 150m to 1.098m. Its geological structure is dominated by limestone, lots of peaks, valleys, rivers, and steep mountainsides. Also, the limestone landscape has many grottoes, of which Puong Cave is the largest with the length of 300m. Major water resources of Ba Be Lake are the Ta Nam, Nam Cuong, and Cho Len rivers that establish the hydrogeology in the south of the Park.
  • The map coordinate of Ba Be National Park is 22°21′ – 22°30’N, 105°34′ – 105°36’E
  • It has an area of 7.610 hectares.
  • Ba Be was a Historical and Cultural Site included in Decision No. 41-TTg dated 24 January 1977 of Prime Minister, with an area of 5.000 hectares.
  • Ba Be was also re-mentioned in Decree No. 194/CT dated 09 August 1986 of Chairman of Council of Ministers. The MARD and administrators were entrusted to examine and prepare the investment project for Ba Be (Anon. 1995).
  • In 1992, Forest Inventory and Planning Institute was assigned to prepare the establishment of Ba Be National Park. In pursuant to Decision No. 83/TTg dated 10 November 1992, the Government officially approved the Ba Be National Park project (Phase 1). The Park would have an area of 7.610 hectares, including 3.226-hectare Strict Protection Area, 3.623-hectare Forest Rehabilitation Area, 450-hectare Administrative Service Area, and 300-ha Lake Surface Area.
  • On 17 April 2002, based on Decision No. 51/2002/QD-TTg of Prime Minister, Ba Be National Park was put under the management of Bac Kan Provincial People’s Committee. The management board included 65 members of staff, 01 headquarter, and 04 safeguard stations.
  • Ba Be was addressed in the list of Special-use Forest prepared by FPD of MARD, within an area of 7.601 hectares (FPD 2003). This list was not approved by the government.
  • On 17-18 December 2003, the ASEAN Ministry of Environment recognized 4 National Parks of ASEAN in Vietnam, including Ba Be National Park in Bac Kan, as the Natural Wonders.
A Tay Ethnic People Village on Ba Be Lake border

A Tay Ethnic People Village on Ba Be Lake border

Biology, Conservation, and Local Population Topics in Ba Be National Park Bac Kan

There are two types of forest in Ba Be which are the forest on the karst mountain and low montane evergreen forest. In particular, the forest on the karst mountain is scattered on the steep mountainsides and covers a large area of the Park. The dominant types are Burretiodendron hsienmu and Streblus tonkinensis. Besides, the low montane evergreen forest is distributed on low slopes and has rich biodiversity. Regarding conservation matters in Ba Be, illegal logging and clearance for agriculture seriously decrease the number of natural forests. There remain a few undamaged areas of the natural forest in the Park.

The fauna system of the Park preserves some globally threatened species of Trachypithecus francoisi and Hemigalus owstoni; however, there were just a small number of these species in the area. Furthermore, Ba Be National Park Vietnam owns the diverse system of butterfly species. Between 1997 and 1998, surveys reported around 332 species of butterflies in the Park, of which 22 species were new discoveries (Monastyrskii et al. 1998).

In 2000, around 3000 people of the Tay, Dao, H’mong, and Kinh ethnic groups inhabited in the boundary areas of the National Park (Bac Kan FPD 2000). In recent years, groups of the H’mong and Dao have been resettled outside of the Park (F. Potess in litt. 2004). Though the major economic source of the locals is agriculture, the suitable land area is limited. Therefore, activities of illegal hunting and logging are still problematic. Also, communities living in the buffer zone of the Park put pressure on forest resources.

Travel by wooden boat on Ba Be leke

Travel by wooden boat on Ba Be leke

Culture and Tourism in Ba Be National Park and Ba Be Lake

Ba Be Lake itself has long been a famous tourist site. In 2003, there was a total of 8.733 tourists who visit and stay overnight in the National Park, of which 10% was the foreigners (F.Potess in litt. 2004). Together with river and lake systems in the region, Ba Be Lake is important to the locals’ transportation. The wooden boat is the main means of transport between the east and the west of the lake. Also, the lake provides aquatic resources and regulate water/flood from Nang River. The vegetation types of the Park helps protect the headwater of Ba Be Lake. The Lake is encircled by forest, creating the very spectacular scenery for sightseeing all seasons. The greenness of the place is reflected on the lake surface that can feast all eyes and please visitors.

Around 50km from Bac Kan City and 250km from Hanoi, Ba Be National Park and Ba Be Lake are the ideal ecotourism sites filled with biodiversity and extraordinary landscape. It’s uneasy to find another “natural lake on the karst mountain” with the enchanting scenery and magical highlights just like Ba Be. So, experience a boat trip in the dug-out canoe on this Lake, and you will see the magic. The “green pearl” amid the dense forest is growing to be a fantastic ecotourism venue, especially during the beginning of spring and summertime.

View from tourist boat pier in ba Be National Park

View from tourist boat pier in ba Be National Park

What’s more, you can stay overnight in the lakeside guesthouses or homestay in the ethnic houses of the Tay and the Nung groups. Top local highlights are Poung Cave, Nang River, Dau Dang Waterfall, and Lung Nam Mountain. Go for a row across Poung Cave which owns exotic stalagmites and stalactites, thousands of bats inside, etc., in the mysterious and lack-of-light conditions. Excitement is in the air in Ba Be!

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