Who does not love traveling? In the end, it is the curiosity of us all that brings us to the unforgettable journeys that leave with great sensations and memories. However, we all, in some way, would like to discover those secrets and the unknown in our own way, with the journey that we create for ourselves. That is the reason why, traditional tour is something that is regarded as quite “old-fashioned” and a private tailor-made Vietnam tour is the one that we seek nowadays as a trend. When you travel to Vietnam, your choice of desired destinations varies greatly for the country filled with natural beauty that is in favor of many backpackers. If you have been sick of these crowded towns, a more tranquil destination like Ba Vi Nature Reserve will be one of the most ideal places.
1. Where is Ba Vi Nature Reserve?
Ba Vì Nature Reserve is a very famous spot located in Ba Vì Suburban District – a remote part of Hanoi. The Nature Reserve is situated on the same name mountain range and two other suburban districts known as Lương Sơn and Kỳ Sơn. The place has a total area of more than 100 km2, which is massive and suitable for the growth of diverse kinds of flora and fauna.
From the 20th Century, Ba Vì Nature Reserve has become the favorite spot of most backpackers who want to seek a trip to nature but also do not want to go too far from Hanoi. Ba Vi Nature Reserve best fits for short trips like one-day or two-day because the place also offers beautiful resorts though most of the destinations in the nature reserve can be discovered in just one day.
In case you have the intention of staying for about two days in Ba Vì Nature Reserve, you will have the chance to stay in one of the most luxurious accommodations in the area – the famous 4-star Le Mont Bavi Resort & Spa. The place is still under construction from 2016 but it is now basically finished and has been put to use. Generally, the place is built in French architectural style but fits amazingly with the topography and the atmosphere of the whole area, which seems wild and original.
Ba Vi Nature Reserve in Spring
On discovering Ba Vì, you will see that the place is not completely natural, which means it has been constructed and refurbished with roads, rock paths, and restaurants to meet the need of the tourists. However, despite your having quite the help from these constructions, conquering Ba Vì is thrilling and dangerous at the same time since it owns huge mountains with great height and the roads are also narrow, especially on rainy days.
Despite the place’s huge and diverse floor of fauna and flora, you will rarely see animals here, except for butterflies, and lots of mosquitoes! The dominant feature here seems to be flora and natural falls, which are fantastic though some falls may be drained of water during the dry season.
2. The best time to visit Ba Vi Nature Reserve
You can actually visit Ba Vì every season and every day that you feel like traveling. Since Ba Vì is in the North, there are four seasons, each bears different features and characteristics. However, it will not affect your trip much. Just a small reminder that you should avoid traveling Ba Vì Nature Reserve on rainy days or the day after the rainy day because the roads are really slippery and since you will have to climb a lot and there is no barrier at the cliff, it is not a good idea to risk your life.
Ba Vi in late October and early November
If you come to Ba Vì to relax, probably the end of April and October will be the best. Since seasons come quite late in Vietnam, the end of April will be the end of Spring and Summer has not come yet so the weather is quite cool and comfortable. The end of October sees the transition from Fall to Winter so there will be less rain and the weather is either hot or cold, giving you the ideal condition for resting and relaxing.
Helianthus in Ba Vi
In case you are a nature lover, November will be the best time for you to visit Ba Vì because it would be the season of Helianthus here, a very beautiful wild yellow flowers bloom on the roadside of most mountains in Northern Vietnam. Also, you will have the chance of contemplating the gorgeous beauty of the endless “flower tunnel” and “flower road” on most of your journey from the entrance to the center of the reserve.
3. How to get to Ba Vi Nature Reserve
There are two ways to get to Ba Vì Nature Reserve but the first one seems better. Ba Vì is truly a place born for group tours because on discovering the place, you can both camp, have outdoor barbeque party, and check in at amazing destinations with great pictures taken by the “professional photographers” who are… your friends.
And this is why traveling by private vehicles such as cars or motorbikes will be the best idea because the distance is not too great, just about 50 kilometers; Therefore, a usual motorcycle trip takes nearly two hours to get to the place. The road is also very safe so there is nothing to worry about. Just remember to bring your international license and safety equipment such as helmets. If you travel by motorbike, you should pay attention to not go on Thăng Long Highway but the route parallel with it because, from 2014, it has banned motorbikes, you will get in trouble if you travel this way. In addition, on traveling to Ba Vì Nature Reserve, the route from Thăng Long Highway will be the shortest.
A beautiful “tunnel” in Ba Vi
In case you travel by coach, there are two stations that you can choose from. However, you should note that these are quite far if you live near the center of Hanoi so you should get prepared to start your journey early. The first station is Yên Nghĩa located in Hà Đông district, Hanoi. From here you can take the coach 214 and for Mỹ Đình Station in Xuân Thủy, Cầu Giấy District, 74 is the coach. Nevertheless, the coach will not take you straight to Ba Vì. As a result, you will have to catch a “xe ôm” – motorcycle taxi or a cab to get to the place. We find this way quite troublesome and money-consuming but if you do not have motorbikes, this seems to be a better way.
4. Vietnam travel advice for a one-day trip to Ba Vi
Firstly, if you’re planning to travel Ba Vì by motorcycle, use the usual ones or mountain motorbikes instead of scooters because the roads are quite steep, especially if you want to go by motorbike to the mount where Thượng Temple is located.
Secondly, you should fuel your motorbike before starting the trip because there is rarely any gas station near the city. There are, of course, some in the middle of the road but they are all remote from the city so make sure to fuel your vehicle fully or just enough to get out of the city.
Thirdly, despite this being just a short trip, remember to bring enough equipment, especially long-sleeve shirt for hot days and first-aid kit used for injuries.
Fourthly, as mentioned above, there are lots of mosquitoes as well as tiny bugs and insects in Ba Vì so make sure that you wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants so as not to get stung by these creatures. Shoes and sneakers are also very important so do not wear high heels if you do not want to destroy your beautiful feet! Also, on the way to Thượng Temple, the air will be colder so this is the time when you need your long-sleeve shirt!
The way to Thuong Temple
Last but not least, if you tend to throw a barbeque party, remember to bring food and suitable equipment. There they have a place for you to camp as well as grill the meat without being charged. If you feel like bringing equipment is not convenient, you can, of course, rent from them. They also offer tents with prices ranging from 150.000vnd – 200.000vnd for one, which fits up to 4 people. Also, you will use your feet quite a lot here so if you cannot walk on foot anymore, you can also use the transit service here, which only costs 70.000vnd per person, or go on a private tailor-made tour.
5. One-day trip to Ba Vi Nature Reserve
On starting your journey, 7.00am will be the most ideal, get yourself prepared and start the trip early. If you travel by private vehicles, for example, motorbikes, the shortest road, as we mention, is the Thăng Long Highway Route. First, you travel to Láng Hòa Lạc, at the end of the road, turn right to Sơn Tây. Upon reaching the crossroad, turn left to Xuân Khanh, then keep traveling until you see the guide sign. Of course, we recommend that you use the map, google map would be the most suitable. However, if you travel by motorbike, remember to avoid highways.
If you go with the speed of 30km/h, you should be at the place by now. When you nearly get to the place, you will see a sign with a red arrow and the line “Vườn quốc gia Ba Vì”, just follow it and you will be at the entrance in no time.
The place entrance
When you get to the entrance, you will have to buy an entrance ticket. The price for one is 80.000vnd per person. We do not know exactly if they offer another price for foreigners but the general price is as above. If you have a student card, they will also offer a great discount of 50 percent, which means the ticket now is only 40.000vnd! When you have done with buying the ticket, they will give you 3 tickets! The first one is the ticket that you use right at the entrance and there is no need for that later. The two others are parking tickets, which you will use later, one for the milestone 400 meters and one for the 1100 meters. There will be parking lots there so for each place, all you have to do is giving the guard the right ticket. And there is also another thing, at the entrance, you will see a very big map of the whole Ba Vì Nature Reserve. So make sure that you will capture it so as not to miss the most interesting spots.
Since you have done with the tickets, it is time to explore the place! First, you just need to ride the motorbike from the entrance. If you have the map there, you will see that the entrance is at the number 2, so the first destination you will like to visit is the Cactus garden on the right side of the road. You should go really slowly so that you will not miss it because there are many people who have been here several times and they do not even know that this exists! The place is super cool for great pictures, or for a little breeze of the desert, the Cactus Garden is just perfect. The place is built to simulate a globe greenhouse in dessert condition which is the most ideal for the growth of cacti. Here you can also find a green corner where they display small cute cacti planted in small pots, unfortunately, you cannot bring them home.
Ngoc Hoa Cave
Out from the garden and getting back to the road, you will see Ngọc Hoa Cave in no time. On exploring Ngọc Hoa, you will encounter amazing small streams of which water is freshly cool and absolutely natural! It is actually the bottom part of the main fall, which you will see upon going deeper into the cave. However, we also recommend that you should not waste your time at Ngọc Hoa because there will be many other destinations waiting for you to explore.
Barbeque in the forest
After visiting Ngọc Hoa, it should be at noon. This time is just perfect for a barbeque! If you keep going further, passing the milestone 400 meters, you will see right ahead the resort area where there is a forest with huge lawn at the opposite. That should be the ideal place for throwing your party. In case you just bring a little food, you can always drop by the restaurant in the resort area to have a meal. The most popular dish in Ba Vì is hill chicken, so do not hesitate to try it out!
The Old Church
If you have done eating and playing, let us continue our journey. It should be 1.00pm or 2.00pm right now and there are still many places to discover! Keep going ahead and you will see on the map the number 5, which are French Summer Camp and the Old Church. These two are amongst the most-visited destinations in Ba Vì Nature Reserve, not only for their mysterious beauty but also the long history that builts their imprints. The two places, in spite of being in reserve, they are still kept with the original architecture of the French.
The Church in Fall
If you have done with all those selfies and pictures, let us get to the last part of our journey. After leaving the church, you will see the ways to Ngọc Hoa Peak, which can be reached at the height of 1.131 meters. So if you feel that you do not have time to conquer the peak, let us save it for later, keep going and you will see milestone 1100 meters. Here you will encounter the path to Tản Viên Peak, which is at the height of more than 1.200 meters. However, we recommend that you take your time conquering the peak because, at the mount, you will see Thượng Temple, one of the main spots of Ba Vì Nature Reserve.
Entrance to Tan Vien God Church in Thuong Temple
Political Prison under the French
The last destination on the journey, in case you still want to keep exploring, is the Political Prison under the French. You will find this as soon as entering the milestone 1100 meters. This is the prison under the French domination in Vietnam used to capture political prisoners, who were mostly political activists in Vietnam. On exploring the place, you will learn many other things so do not worry.
In case you want to stay here until late night, there is campfire service ranges from 1.000.000vnd – 1.500.000vnd. If you want to end your journey soon, after visiting all those destinations and the journey has drained all your energy, it should be by 5.00pm to 6.00pm. If you travel by motorbike here, everything will be much easier. However, if you travel by coach, you will have to get a taxi to take you to Xuân Khanh. There you catch the bus to Hanoi and end your journey.