Cat Tien National Park: Where to Stay

First published November 2016 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

INTRODUCTION | REVIEW | MAP | RELATED POSTS

From traditional longhouses to luxury safari tents; from bamboo huts to camping under the tropical canopy: accommodation in and around Cat Tien National Park is exciting, atmospheric, good value and, more often than not, environmentally and socially responsible. 150km from Saigon, Cat Tien National Park is bounded by the Dong Nai River to the east and the Ho Chi Minh Road to the west. Rich in wildlife and flora (including bears, elephants, primates, crocodiles, and old-growth trees), there’s a real energy in this area: you can sense the life that lies beneath the thick jungle canopy. Most of Cat Tien’s sleeping options are deeply in touch with the natural environment and local community, giving the accommodations more soul, character and depth than the average hotel in Vietnam. I visited all of the places to stay that are currently available in this lush, exotic, bio-diverse national park in the southern Central Highlands.

Accommodation in Cat Tien National Park, VietnamAtmospheric lodgings: accommodation in & around Cat Tien National Park is exciting & characterful

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REVIEW: WHERE TO STAY IN CAT TIEN NATIONAL PARK


On this page I’ve reviewed all eight accommodations in, or nearby, Cat Tien National Park. I’ve included practical information, such as room rates and contact details, as well as a description, photos, and my personal opinion of each property. All accommodation options below include breakfast, mosquito nets (essential in this area), have on-site restaurants, and can arrange activities in and around the national park. Most places can either arrange or advise on transport to/from their property. The following accommodations are all within walking distance of the national park or, in some cases, in it. You can book rooms directly from this page by clicking the BOOK HERE links: any bookings made from this page will help to support this website (see below for details).

*Please support Vietnam Coracle: I never write a review for money: all my content is free & all my reviews are independent. You can support the work I do by booking your hotels via the Agoda links & search boxes on my site, like the ones on this page. If you make a booking, I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Any money I make goes straight back into this site. Thank you.

Click a name from the list below to read my review:


MAP:

Accommodation in Cat Tien National Park


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TA LAI LONGHOUSE


Address: Ta Lai Commune, Tan Phu District, Dong Nai Province [MAP]

Price: 450,000vnd ($20) per person | Contact:[email protected]

BOOK HERE

15km west of the Cat Tien ferry crossing, Ta Lai Longhouse is a superb, WWF-initiated project aimed at supporting the local ethnic minority communities while also protecting the natural environment. The Longhouse is signposted off the main Nam Cat Tien road and down increasingly narrow paved lanes, over a suspension bridge across the Dong Nai River, and up a dirt path to a forested hillock surrounded by cashews trees. Up the stone steps, the Longhouse is a beautiful bamboo-and-thatch structure in a clearing at the top of the hill. Several other brick and bamboo huts dot the immediate vicinity, including the immaculate shower rooms, kitchen, communal dining area, and games room. Pathways lead down to a clear lake ringed by the forested hills of the national park. It’s a marvellous spot for swimming and kayaking during most of the year, but at the height of the dry season (February to April) it dries up completely. Just before I visited, a large wild elephant was spotted bathing in the lake here.

Ta Lai Longhouse, Cat Tien National Park, VietnamThe bamboo longhouse at Ta Lai: sleeping is on mattresses on the wooden floor

There are two longhouses: the main one can accommodate up to 30 people, while the small one sleeps 15. Mattresses are laid out on the bamboo floor with mosquito nets hung from the ceiling. Bamboo screens partition guests, providing some privacy. There were only a couple of other guests when I visited, which was lovely, so it’s difficult to imagine what it would be like with 30 or more people. The Longhouse often receives large groups, so it’s worth calling ahead to make sure it’s not too busy. The price is 450,000vnd per person, including breakfast. Camping (200-300,000vnd) is at the bottom of the hill under cashew trees. Lunch and dinner are available for 150,000vnd per head, and refreshments served throughout the day, including excellent, locally sourced coffee. 30% of the revenue goes directly to the two ethnic minorities in Ta Lai Village, the Mạ and the S’tieng, whose traditional homes the Longhouse design is based on. Staff are young, active, friendly, and between them speak about four different languages. Walking, biking, swimming and kayaking are all on offer: the surrounding landscape is perfect for outdoor activities. This is a fabulous place and I hope that it will encourage similar projects in the coming years. You can BOOK HERE

Ta Lai Longhouse, Cat Tien National Park, VietnamView from the bamboo terrace at the Ta Lai Longhouse: the lake below is great for swimming

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CAT TIEN JUNGLE LODGE


Address: 854 Nam Cat Tien Commune, Tan Phu District, Dong Nai Province [MAP]

Price: $70-$140 | Contact:[email protected]

BOOK HERE

On the lush banks at the confluence of the Dong Nai and Da Huoai rivers, Cat Tien Jungle Lodge is just a few metres from the National Park ferry crossing. Recently opened, Jungle Lodge offers some of the most comfortable rooms in the area. Owners, Gary and Phuong, are passionate about their project and about the sensitive development of the Cat Tien area in general. There are currently only 16 rooms on their large riverfront property, which means there’s lots of space (indoors and outdoors) in which to relax and plan your national park adventures. At first sight, it’s a odd collection of building styles and materials: a large, green-painted, brick villa, a two-storey wooden lobby and restaurant, and several tile-roof houses. But, once you’re on the premises, the space works really well. The communal areas are light, spacious and airy; the garden (dotted with fruit trees) is verdant and quiet; the riverfront walkway is lined with bamboo, and the bar by the swimming pool is a wonderful place to see the sunset.

Cat Tien Jungle Lodge, VietnamRooms at Cat Tien Jungle Lodge are cosy, thoughtfully furnished & very spacious

Most of the rooms are arranged in a row among the gardens, with patios fronting onto a water feature and the river beyond. The more expensive rooms are in atmospheric wood and brick bungalows close to the river. All rooms have lots of space and are attractively furnished with wooden desks, rugs, lamps, ceiling fans, and mosquito nets. Large bathrooms (with excellent showers) and modern conveniences, such as flat screen TVs and air-con, also feature in all rooms. The restaurant serves good food, including lots of vegetarian options, and the bar has a couple of cocktails on the menu (a rarity in these parts). In the early morning, the exotic call of the golden-cheeked gibbon can be clearly heard, coming across the river from the steamy canopy of the national park. Staff can arrange any number of park activities. Rates are between $70-$140 a night: you can search availability, check current rates and BOOK HERE.

Cat Tien Jungle Lodge, VietnamThe riverside bar & swimming pool is the perfect place to relax after a day exploring the national park

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FOREST CALL LODGE


Address: 4 Nam Cat Tien Commune, Tan Phu District, Dong Nai Province [MAP]

Price: $15-$30 | Contact:[email protected]

BOOK HERE

Down a concrete lane lined with hibiscus hedges, and then down a gravel pathway surrounded by cashew trees and banana plants, Forest Call Lodge lives up to its evocative name. The gardens shimmer with birdsong and are thick with the scent of fruit trees and flowers. The reception is a beautiful bamboo and thatch structure, which also doubles as a communal living and dining room for guests. Owner, Mr Thuat, has years of experience working in the national park, and has successfully stopped the construction of dams and roads that would have destroyed the park’s habitat. (For more about Mr Thuat’s work, read this article in the New York Times.) Forest Call offers quiet, restarined, clean and affordable accommodation in brick and tile bungalows. Arranged in a line among the lush foliage of the garden, the eight rooms (6 fan-cooled, 2 with air-con: $20-$30 respectively) are simple and plain with semi-outdoor bathrooms. There’s also a dormitory (with good, shared bathroom facilities), consisting of bamboo beds and rattan mats, for $4 per person. They are currently in the process of building rooms in bamboo tree houses.

Forest Call Lodge, Cat Tien National Park, VietnamRooms are clean and plain at Forest Call Lodge, set in lush gardens on the Da Huoai River

Forest Call’s main strengths are its lovely gardens and its good location, on the banks of the Da Huoai River. In the raining season, the grounds are so verdant that you can almost see the plants growing. Log seats, benches, and hammocks dot the garden; there are wood and rubber-tyre swings over the river; and a zip-line across to the small island opposite the property, where you can climb a lookout tower for excellent views. Unlike the Dong Nai River, which encompasses the national park and flows muddy and fast all year, the Da Huoai River runs slow and clear in the dry season, making it suitable for swimming and kayaking, both of which can be enjoyed at Forest Call. Breakfast is included and Thuat can arrange all park-related activities. Rates are between $15-$30 a night: you can search availability, check current rates and BOOK HERE

Forest Call Lodge, Cat Tien National Park, VietnamOwner, Mr Thuat, demonstrating his zip-line/cable car across the river to a small island

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GREEN HOPE LODGE


Address: 4 Nam Cat Tien Commune, Tan Phu District, Dong Nai Province [MAP]

Price: $15-$35 | Contact:[email protected]

BOOK HERE

Hidden down a dirt road lined with coffee bushes and corn plants, Green Hope Lodge has 11 rooms, most of which have river views. Several brick bungalows stand in the abundant gardens, which front right onto the Dong Na River. Thatched gazebos sit in the shade of fruit trees behind a screen of bamboo, where you can lay out in hammocks and watch the river flowing by. It’s a very atmospheric place to idle away an afternoon.

Green Hope Lodge, Cat Tien National Park, VietnamThe bamboo and thatch gazebos in the riverside gardens at Green Hope are a great place to relax

The brick and wood bungalows (either fan or air-con) are quite large and sturdy. They’re comfortable but minimally furnished, with the exception of giant bamboo chairs. The bare stone floors are a nice touch. Rooms are also available in a dark-wood stilt house with good river views from the second floor and lots of patio space. The small restaurant serves breakfast (included in the price), lunch and dinner, and staff can arrange all park excursions. Rates are between $15-$35 a night: you can search availability, check current rates and BOOK HERE

Green Hope Lodge, Cat Tien National Park, VietnamRooms are clean and minimally furnished at Green Hope Lodge

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GREEN BAMBOO LODGE


Address: 4 Nam Cat Tien Commune, Tan Phu District, Dong Nai Province [MAP]

Price: $10-$35 | Contact: (+84) 973 346 345

BOOK HERE

On the left, just before the ferry crossing to Cat Tien National Park, a short lane leads to Green Bamboo Lodge. However, this place also goes by the names, River Lodge, Bird Song Retreat, and Larva Rock. The different names reflect the various styles of accommodation available here. Sprawling along the banks of the Dong Nai River, 17 rooms occupy a pleasant, shady, and quiet patch of land. The bamboo huts are the most atmospheric: perched on stilts over the muddy river. The bamboo architecture inside is fascinating to look at, and the rooms are small and cosy. Bamboo floors act as a massage for your feet, and out on the balcony there are hammocks to swing in while gazing down the river, or watching primates swing from branches in the national park on the opposite bank. The gardens between the huts boast giant-leaved teak trees, and a canopy of delicate bamboo leaves provides lots of shade. It’s a very exotic-feeling place to stay, and prices in the low-season are exceptionally good value at $10-$15 a night. There’s also a good bamboo dormitory ($5-$7).

Green Bamboo Lodge, Cat Tien National Park, VietnamThe riverside bamboo huts are very atmospheric and good value at Green Bamboo Lodge

Other rooms include: new brick-and-wood huts, which are neatly and simply presented; and rather incongruous, A-frame, red-brick bungalows, which are brand new and slightly smarter. All come with balconies and great river views. The newest accommodation option takes the form of ‘lava houses': cylindrical dwellings (they look a bit like Dutch windmills) made of brick, but with a two-foot thick outer layer of volcanic rock, of the kind found all over the Cat Tien area. The layer of rock keeps the rooms cool in all weather and there’s a rooftop balcony on each ‘lava house’. The riverfront restaurant is stocked with home-grown vegetables, fruits and meat: they aim to become totally self-sufficient in the future. The owners are constantly expanding and have lots of ideas for new accommodations and activities in the area. Rates are between $10-$35 a night: you can search availability, check current rates and BOOK HERE

Green Bamboo Lodge, Cat Tien National Park, VietnamMost rooms have views of the Dong Nai River like this, with the national park on the opposite bank

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CAT TIEN FARMSTAY


Address: 2 Nam Cat Tien Commune, Tan Phu District, Dong Nai Province [MAP]

Price: $20-$70 | Contact:[email protected]

BOOK HERE

Owned by the same people as Cat Tien Jungle Lodge, the Farmstay is located in Nam Cat Tien village, about a kilometre up the road from the national park ferry crossing. The Farmstay comprises over a dozen rooms spread among a large and green garden on the banks of the Da Huoai River. Wooden tables and chairs are set up on the grass beneath canvas canopies and fruit trees, providing a romantic setting for evening meals in lamplight, with the sound of cicadas all around. The Farmstay doesn’t have as much riverfront access as other Cat Tien accommodations, but makes up for this with very homely, well-appointed rooms.

Cat Tien Farmstay, VietnamThe Farmstay has large, green gardens with picnic tables and chairs for al fresco dining

The two wood and brick bungalows closest to the river are spacious family rooms, which would also be perfect for a small group of travellers. The nicest garden-view rooms are housed in an attractive wooden structure with an open-sided ground floor living area. Rooms are positioned around a central stairwell: some have private bathrooms, others have shared. Furnished with floor-level mattresses, mosquito nets, bright sheets and pillows, and a lovely open-sided balcony looking over the garden, these rooms are great value for two people. Rates are between $15-$70 a night: you can search availability, check current rates and BOOK HERE

Cat Tien Farmstay, VietnamRooms are tastefully furnished and very comfortable at Cat Tien Farmstay

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CAT TIEN PARK HQ


Address: Cat Tien National Park, Tan Phu District, Dong Nai Province [MAP]

Price: $25-$50 | Contact:[email protected]

BOOK HERE

After purchasing the park entrance and ferry ticket (40,000vnd), a wooden boat takes you across the Dong Nai River to the National Park Headquarters. The Park HQ accommodation is now known as Green Cat Tien. After disembarking the ferry, the green field on the left is the park’s campgrounds. You can pitch your own tent (50,000vnd) or rent a 2-person tent from the park (200,000vnd). It’s a good camping spot on green grass in the shade of tall trees, but the communal bathrooms are only OK. The park accommodation reception is housed in a grubby building on the left after the campgrounds. There’s a bamboo and thatch restaurant behind reception which offers a surprisingly wide range of Vietnamese dishes, but service is grumpy and reluctant. A variety of lodgings are arranged off the park road in neatly kept gardens.

Cat Tien National Park Headquarters, VietnamThe campsite at the National Park Headquaters is large with reasonable facilities

All rooms are tidy, clean and comfortable, but without any frills to justify the relatively high prices, which range from 480,000vnd to 1,100,000vnd a night. The most expensive rooms are slightly better furnished and come with bathtubs, but are still massively overpriced. The middle-priced rooms are perfectly fine, but this is the standard you’d expect to find in local guesthouses all over Vietnam for half of the park’s asking price. The most atmospheric rooms (and the cheapest) are the wooden stilt houses under huge trees by the river (480,000vnd). Beneath a dense jungle canopy, these rooms have a lot of character, but the furniture and bathrooms are a bit rustic. All park rooms have good, firm foam mattresses. The main reason to stay here is to get an early start for the popular Gibbon Trek, which starts at 5am. However, despite its significant shortfalls, the Park HQ is still a very shady, green place to be, with the smell of damp earth and flowers in the air, and the sound of gibbon calls coming from the jungle. Rates are between $25-$50 a night: you can search availability, check current rates and BOOK HERE

Cat Tien National Park Headquarters, VietnamRooms are clean and good but overpriced at the National Park HQ

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FOREST FLOOR LODGE


Address: Cat Tien National Park, Tan Phu District, Dong Nai Province [MAP]

Price: $75-$125 | Contact:[email protected]

BOOK HERE

A couple of kilometres north of the Park HQ along a paved lane, Forest Floor Lodge offers the most luxurious and most expensive accommodation in Cat Tien. Owned by a British entomologist and his Vietnamese wife, the first thing you notice when arriving at Forest Floor is the thundering roar of the rapids on the Dong Nai River. The 16 rooms are connected via stone pathways through the trees and raised walkways above the forest floor. The three canvas-and-wood safari tents are the most popular rooms here. These luxury tents have patios right above the rapids, looking across to Dao Tien Island, where you can see and hear gibbons in the morning. The tents have beautiful interiors of woven bamboo, wooden furniture and colourful textiles.

Forest Floor Lodge, Cat Tien National Park, VietnamAll rooms at Forest Floor are beautifully furnished and very cosy

Garden view rooms are pretty bamboo-and-wood bungalows set back from the river. Although they lack a riverfront location, they are more spacious, airy, and cooler than the safari tents. Above the reception, the Hornbill Bar is a wonderful setting for breakfast – with jungle calls coming from across the river over the sound of the rapids – or a Gin and Tonic at dusk after a day of walking in the national park. Good meals are served here too. All the produce used in cooking, and all the building materials and furniture at Forest Floor, are locally sourced within a 10km radius of the lodge. All rooms have air-con and fans, but there is no electricity between 10pm and 6am, during which time there are battery-powered lights in all rooms. Make reservations in advance, because rooms are often fully booked during the peak winter months. Rates are between $75-$125 a night (low/high season): you can search availability, check current rates and BOOK HERE

Forest Floor Lodge, Cat Tien National Park, VietnamView of the rapids on the Dong Nai River from one of the safari tents at Forest Floor Lodge


*Please support Vietnam Coracle: I never write a review for money: all my content is free & all my reviews are independent. You can support the work I do by booking your hotels via the Agoda links & search boxes on my site, like the ones on this page. If you make a booking, I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Any money I make goes straight back into this site. Thank you.


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Disclosure: I never receive payment for anything I write: my content is always free and independent. I’ve written this review because I want to: I like this hotel and I want my readers to know about it. For more details, see my Disclosure & Disclaimer statements here


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7 Responses to Cat Tien National Park: Where to Stay

  1. Sven says:

    Hi Tom,
    can you please let me know, what is the best way (most quiet and scenic) to Cat Tien from Saigon?
    Is it good to go via Cat Lai ferry?
    Thank you so much!!

    Best regards Sven

  2. Stein Flaten says:

    This article I throughly enjoyed. One of the reasons why I come to Vietnam is that I like to photograph. And I really like to photograph birds. Therefore I liked very well what you write here. I have long thought to go to Cat Tien, but have not been there yet. I do not like to travel in groups tour. It does not work when I want to be quiet photograping birds !!!! I could wish to stay so I could go out into the woods at sunrise. I have the name of two ornithologists who know Cat Tien, maybe I should ask one of them? I live in Go Vap and I have a little honda scooter so one day I go. Thanks for this article. If you have time one day, I would like to invite you to Pham van Chieu, Go Vap. We have a nice garden ( except from the noise ) where we could have a cup of caphe da and a chat ………. ?
    Stein Flaten

  3. Alan Murray says:

    Some amazing looking accommodation and I could almost be persuaded to visit the area again but my abiding memory was of the leeches which even got inside the protective leggings provided by the tour company. They sensed you approaching and popped their heads out of the ground as you got near, hoping to hitch a ride on a piece of bare flesh!
    Otherwise a great experience except that the wildlife was obviously on holiday when we visited as we didn’t see much of interest even on a ride through the forest at night. Next time perhaps?

  4. Pingback: Coffee with a View: Photo & Bike Cafe » Vietnam Coracle

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