Cat Tien National Park, about 150 km northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, is the largest and most significant national park in South Vietnam. It covers a vast area of nearly 72,000 ha (720 km²) and belongs to three provinces: Dong Nai, Lam Dong and Binh Phuoc. Initially, Cat Tien had two zones, Nam Cat Tien and Tay Cat Tien. The other sector, Cat Loc Rhinoceros Reserve, was included in 1998.
The park mainly contains lowland forests and swamp, forming several different habitats: evergreen and semi-deciduous forests, freshwater wetlands, lakes, large areas of bamboo, grassland and flooded forest. It is of international significance for biodiversity values. Cat Tien is selected as one of 200 global ecological zones and listed as the 411th UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
The park makes up a bountiful site for scientists with plentiful flora and fauna. So far, 1,600 species of plant, 105 species of mammal, 360 species of bird, 120 species of reptile and amphibian, 130 species of freshwater fish, 440 species of butterflies and an abundance of other interesting insects have been recorded. It is one of the few sites in Vietnam supporting a considerable number of large mammals such as Asian Elephant, Sun Bear, Indochinese Tiger, Clouded Leopards and several species of endangered primates. In addition, the discoveries of unknown species are frequent.
Despite such high biodiversity, Cat Tien had been locally and globally unknown until 1992 when Lesser One-horned Rhinoceros was recorded by automatic cameras in Cat Loc. This is one of the only two populations of Javan Rhinos in the world. There are now just seven or eight individuals in the protected area of Cat Loc.
Highlights: Trekking, Bird Watching and Wildlife Safari
The best time to visit Cat Tien National Park is in dry season, from December to May, when the weather is favorable for trekking. During rainy season, a large part of the park is flooded but this is the time of its significance, what it is meant to be.