Ba Vi National Park is located on Mount Ba Vi, a mountain isolate situated about 50 km west of Hanoi. The mountain rises steeply out of a plain that rarely exceeds 30 m in elevation. In general, slopes on the western side of Ba Vi mountain, at an average of 25°, are steeper than those on the east. Above 400 m, the slopes on the western side may reach a gradient of 35° and rocky cliffs are present.
Mount Ba Vi has three peaks: the highest is Dinh Vua at 1,296 m, followed by Tan Vien at 1,226 m and Ngoc Hoa at 1,120 m. Because of the mountainous topography, the climate at Ba Vi varies with altitude. Above 500 m, fog enshrouds the top of the mountain on most days.
Except for the Da River on the western side of the national park, Ba Vi has no large, permanent water bodies. Streams in the national park are small, steep sided and fast flowing. In the rainy season, the volume of water flowing through these small watercourses and over the surface of the ground is sometimes sufficient to cause landslides. In the dry season, however, many of the streams are dry.
At Ba Vi National Park, natural forest is mainly distributed at elevations above 600 m. The natural forest types at Ba Vi are lowland evergreen forest, lower montane evergreen forest and lower montane mixed coniferous and broadleaf forest. In 1998, the national park supported 4,701 ha of forest, comprising 1,710 ha of natural forest and 2,991 ha of plantation forest. The plantation forest is still, however, in the early stages of development, with only small trees present.
Ba Vi supports 812 species of vascular plant, of which several species were described for the first time from the site, for example Ixora balansae, Litsea baviensis and Lasianthus langkokensis. Also according to the investment plan, Ba Vi supports 44 mammal species, 114 bird species, 15 reptile species and nine amphibian species.
The forest at Ba Vi National Park is an important source of forest products for local communities. For example, medicinal plant collection is a major economic activity in the area. Between 1997 and 1998, an estimated 250 tonnes of medicinal plants were extracted from the national park. It has been estimated that 80% of the Dao ethnic group in Ba Vi commune extract medicinal plants, which is their second most important source of income.
During the French colonial period, Ba Vi was developed as a hill station, and around 200 villas were constructed on the mountain. In addition, a road was built up the mountain to an elevation of 1,100 m. With a relatively favourable climate, good infrastructure and close proximity to Hanoi, Ba Vi already attracts large numbers of visitors. Several tourism companies have developed resorts and visitor attractions in and around the national park. Ba Vi National Park is also an important site for education and scientific research. Further major tourism resorts are planned in and around the national park.