Ba Be is Vietnam's largest natural lake and is now the centrepiece of an extensive National Park. The park and the surrounding area is limestone country, so lakes, waterfalls, caves and unusual rock formations abound. The whole area is richly forested and home to many ethnic minority communities.
The National Park is covered by tropical and semi-tropical evergreen Thailandian monsoon forest. The bio diversity is rich – 50 animal species, over 400 plants and many species of insects, reptiles and birds. The ten seriously endangered animals in the park include two primates, the Black Gibbon and the Tonkinese 'snub-nosed' monkey.
The latter is one of the world's rarest species and on the brink of extinction. Flora and Fauna International is working with the park authorities and other agencies to save this attractive creature. The lake itself is really three lakes linked by wide channels. Overall, it's about 7km long and a kilometre across at its widest point, and contains around fifty species of freshwater fish.
The surface is nearly always calm, making a boat trip a peaceful experience. In adddition, there are islands and caves to visit.
Within the park's boundary there are a several small villages inhabited by members of the Tay, Red Dao, Coin Dao and White H'mong ethnic minorities. However, the colourful costumes typical of most of these groups are seldom in evidence apart from performances and demonstrations for tourists.Some of the villages offer basic, but reasonably comfortable, homestays. An alternative is the park's guesthouse, which provides basic accommodation only. Elsewhere, there is limited local standard accommodation in Cho Ra town, about 18km away outside the park.