Despite the bad reviews we stayed here, because we wanted to do the Gibbon Trek. We found out that it is not necesarry to stay in the park to do this trek and that there are better options nearby.
The rooms in the park are poorly maintained and terrible value for money with a rate of 580.00 Dong per night for a standard a/c room. For this price, you'll get a mosquito net full of holes and sheets with old blood stains in it. Even the small bottles of water in your room are not included in the room rate, which is quite pathetic. This wouldn't be that bad if the setting was really nice, but it isn't! There are lots of ugly concrete buildings, a paved road and very little forest at the park headquarters where this accommodation is located. It does not feel like you're in an National Park.
Furthermore, there are two reasonably pricee restaurants, both with poor quality food. The bigger one is best avoided for breakfast. We got very old bread with mould on it...
On the positive side, we did not have such a bad experiences with the staff. The girl at the reception was actually quite helpfull.
Allthough this is the only affordable option inside he park (Forest Lodge is the other one, but expensive), there are two alternatives nearby:
- Green Bamboo / River Lodge (despite seperate listings here, it's just one place): very basic bamboo huts on the river, with lots of open spaces (you're practically in the open air) and basic but decent brick bungalows, all without a/c. Setting and staff very nice. Located 3 minutes walk from the ferry crossing
- Green Hope. Better option than Green Bamboo, with clean bungalows, some with a/c. Nice river setting and helpfull staff. 10-15 walk minutes from the ferry crossing
Despite the above, there are also some advantages of staying in the park:
- You will get a 10USD per person discount on the Gibbon Trek (normal price 60 USD) per person
- You only pay entrance fee once for entering the park (40.000 Dong per person) and you can relax in your room between activities without needing to cross the river (which is only a minute) and walk to your accommodation.
The Gibbon Trek is a very nice experience and the visit to the Rehabilitation Centre afterwards is really informative. You can book it through the National Park Office or the organization which runs the centre, Go-East. See their website for details. The trekking starts at 5.00 am from the reception area at the park headquarters. Arrange an early boat crossing if you stay on the other side of the river (where Cat Tien Village is located). Do not expect to see the gibbons from close by as there are up in high trees and at the rehab centre you need to keep distance from their cages to prevent these lovely creatures from getting used to humans.
How to get there?
From HCMC take one of the hourly buses to Dalat. Phuong Trang is a reputable company, which conveniently has hourly sleeping busses leaving from De Tham Road, in the backpacker area of Bui Vien. It saves you a long trip to the bus station and costs on only 220.000 Dong. After about 4 hours, get off the bus at the junction in Tan Phu town and/or tell the driver to stop at Vuon Quoc Gia Cat Tien. From here it's a 45 minute xe-om ride to Cat Tien (we payed 120.00-130.000 Dong). Coming from the north, get off just before the town of Mandagui. To reach the park from Cat Tien Village, you can take the boat at the ferry crossing, which is included in the ticket price.