Forest Survival Skills When Lost in a Tropical Jungle

The fundamental skills can help you survive when lost in most forests, especially in the tropical jungles in Vietnam, such as in Nam Cat Tien – a nice forest located between Da Lat and Ho Chi Minh City, Phong Nha – Ke Bang – a beautiful park with many amazing caves, or Cuc Phuong Park – a beautiful jungle with lots of old big trees and colorful butterflies.

Tropical Jungle
The Tropical Jungle | ©Quangpraha/pixabay

Before traveling into the forest, you should prepare foods more than you need and more water as much as possible. However, the more food and water you carry, the heavier your luggage is. And you should bring a knife, lighter, watch, whistle, and flashlight.

“Special notes to remember STOP word:

  • S – Sit down
  • T – Think
  • O – Observe your surroundings
  • P – Prepare for survival by gathering materials

And, remember 3 s of the STOP rule: As soon as you realize you may be lost: stop, stay calm, and stay put. Panic is your greatest enemy.”

1. Telling someone where you will go

You tell someone who can trust before you go to any place. They can get quick information about you, in case you are lost.

When you go out of a hotel, homestay, or resort, you should keep its address and phone number.

Notably, many areas in a forest do not have mobile services, so you should find some areas, often space, not covered by trees, to see if your phone can work.

2. Calm down

Panic psychology or depression will come to anyone after being lost. Thus, keep calm – this is the first important factor to help you survive.

If you panic, you will be disoriented and will get further lost. After calming down, you can find a way to escape from the danger zone as quickly as possible.

3. Try to locate

Pay attention to the villages, houses, camps, or any signs of human activity. You will find ways to move there.

To find that, you have to climb to the highest point to observe, such as the top of the tree or the hill, and you try to find features of houses, fields, and smoke. If at night, you can find a fire or electric light.

You also should pay attention to loud noises like ships, cars, trains, and engines from somewhere.

If no sound can be heard, it is better to locate a river and stream from above. Then, going in the direction of the flow of water, the rate of exiting from the dangerous area will be possible.

4. Highlight the path

You should mark the route on the trees or cliffs following the sun, mountain, or wind direction to help you avoid returning to the original place lost.

Always be careful when visiting tropical forests, even big or small ones, such as Phu Quoc National Park!

Another tip to highlight the way is to take pictures on the paths with trees where you went, which is not the best method but can support you in finding small hints in case of losing.

5. Leave a message where you got lost

If you get lost away from a group of people, the first thing is to calm down and identify the surrounding terrain. Then, you research the source of water and food and stay there to wait for the rescue. Avoid moving much because it will reduce your energy, and be able to be attacked by wild animals.

If you want to look or move elsewhere, in the first place, where you get lost, you should leave a message or a sign so that if your friends come back to find you, they can determine your next direction or location.

Always pay attention to the distance between 2 people when traveling with a group to avoid getting lost in the forest.

6. Find water and food, and create signs for other people to find easily

Finding a source of water (a stream or river) is essential to rescue yourself when lost in the forest. Then, you search for food to eat. Without food for a few days, you can still live, but water is needed most of the time.

You should only eat forest trees or leaves, which you know are not poisonous; otherwise, it’s best to rescue you with only water. Remember to avoid colorful mushrooms in the forest because they are often toxic mushrooms.

You must find a way to make the sign, for example, burning a fire to create smoke (be careful with the light to avoid burning all the forest), making flag signs with colored clothes, or creating sounds.

While doing that, you should also listen to sounds in the woods. If you hear a gunshot or a call, you should navigate and move nearby.

7. Find a sleeping place

If it is dark and there is no sign of finding out, you must find a way to choose the shelter safely. You should burn a big fire, which will help you avoid the cold of the night, keep the heat, and scare animals. Then, find a way to get a hammock on a tree or sleep on the stones. You can also take leaves to shelter yourself.


These rules are primary and just for reference, but they can be necessary in some cases. If you can join a class to learn about these survive-in-forest skills, that is great.

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    About the author

    The editorial staff of Vietnamdrive is a team of travel experts managed by Mr. Thom who has worked in tourism for 14 years. Trusted by thousands of tourists from all over the world.