Bach Ma National Park protects a unique natural forest stretching from the East Sea to the Vietnam-Laos border. Located at the end of the North Truong Son Mountain Range, Bach Ma’s highest mountain peak is 1,450 metres above sea level. Other mountains over 1,000 metres include Nom (1,259 metres) and Truoi (1,154 metres).
Long, narrow valleys with complex stream and river systems surround the mountains. The eastern part of the national park has a large system of salt-water lakes and lagoons offering spectacular scenic view. During the 1930s, the French used the site for a resort, which had 139 villas, a swimming pool, tennis courts, a market, post office, and a road system connecting the mountain range to National Highway No.1. Today, Bach Ma remains an ideal holiday resort, thanks to its natural beauty and cool climate with summer temperatures between 18-23°C. The park has Vietnam’s highest rainfall – nearly eight metres annually. Bach Ma National Park boasts a diverse ecosystem, including species endemic to both northern and southern Vietnam. It has 1,406 recorded plant species, of which 30 are listed in Vietnam’s Red Book. These include Fokienia hodginsii, Adenia banaensis, Aquilaria banaensae, Erythrophloeum fordii, Dipterocarpus hasselti, Dipterocalpus and even several species new to science, such as Elaeocarpus bachmaensis and Cissus bachmaensis.
The park also has a diverse range of fauna: 83 large mammal species from twenty-three families and nine orders. Among the species, 68 appear in Vietnam’s Red Book, including the Sao la (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), Vu Quang muntjac (Megamuntiacus vuquangensis), Truongson muntjac (Muntiacus truongsonensis), and the white-cheeked gibbon (Hylobates gabrillae).
Other animal species include birds (333 species), amphibians (21), reptiles (31), fish (39), butterflies (256), beetles (178), and termites (28). Data on small mammals is still incomplete.
Surveys conducted last year show that Bach Ma has an especially diverse composition of bat species compared to other Vietnamese reserves, with 59 species recorded (not including some other unidentified specimens). Eight of its species appear in Vietnam’s Red Book 2000, and five are listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) red list of threatened animals 2000.
Among these species, the long sella horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus paradox-olophus) has only about five populations, with at most only from 150 to 250 bats per population. Captured bats include a Thais evening bat (Thainycteris aureocollaris), recorded only for the second time in Vietnam. Scientists first recorded this species in 1999 in southern Vietnam.
Other species include the Old World fruit bat family (Pteropodidae) belonging to the suborder Megachiroptera. The Bach Ma fruit bats (with 10 species and seven genera belonging in its family) have the most diverse species composition compared with Vietnam’s other national parks or nature reserves.
With its advantages in biodiversity and natural beauty, Bach Ma is becoming an important eco-tourist destination in central Vietnam.