Cat Tien National Park
Cat Tien is the most important national park of south Vietnam and is Unesco heritage.
The national park is located somewhere in the middle between HCMC and Dalat and you can visit it as a day trip from either city. However, if you stay a couple of nights you can truly experience what this park has to offer.
To get there on your own, just hop on a bus in HCMC going to Dalat (or the other way around) and say you are going to Cat Tien, you will be dropped of near a junction where a couple of local motodrivers are awaiting you. Bargain really hard because these guys will ask the most funny prices.
They will not drop you of at your arranged accommodation, but instead bring you to a place where they get a commission, in our case it was a win win, we paid less than the accommodation in the park and the guesthouse turned out to be very good.
A lot of activities can be arranged by the park, we highly recommend The Wild Gibbon trek, it was a bit pricey, but worth every penny and the good thing is, you are saving some nature while enjoying it.
At 5 a.m. a guide from the park takes you to the place where the gibbons went to sleep. As the sun rises, the forest awakes and the gibbons will sing their territorial song. You then follow the family until they start feeding. The gibbons live quite high in the trees, it's not guaranteed you will see them, we were able to get a good look at them and another family, but still, hearing the morning song of the gibbons in the middle of the jungle is a fantastic experience.
If you are into birds, the bird watching tour doesn't take you far in the jungle, but you see many different species or you can rent a bike and explore on your own, the paths are clearly marked, just take enough water with you.
Cat Tien is a great stop if you have ample time while traveling through Vietnam. There is some rather large scale construction going on just outside the park frontier so who knows how long this quiet place will remain the same.