This paper presents a preliminary assessment of the hydrogeological characteristics of a karst mountainous catchment, the Suoi Muoi River catchment, in the northwest of Vietnam. The catchment is located at 600 -700 in a.s.l. and covers an area of 284 kin. Exposed limestone occupies 32% of the total catchment area. Various types of assessments have been carried out, including geological and hydrogeological. field surveys, cave surveys, dye-tracer tests, meteorological and surface water monitoring. Geological studies and cave surveys have identified the most important active cave/conduit systems within the catchment. Although these data are essential, they are insufficient to make a comprehensive appraisal of the hydrologic nature of the catchment under interest. An attempt was made to calculate a global water balance of the catchment, based on short-term (15 months) meteorological and streamflow records. The results show that, despite the existence of a number of substantial cavern conduit systems, the groundwater system of the catchment is governed by the fracture/fissure matrix. The cavern conduit systems only collect groundwater from the adjacent fracture matrix and/or connect topographically isolated surface watercourses. The groundwater storage of the cavern conduit systems appears to be regionally insignificant in comparison with the governed fracture matrix groundwater system.