Cuc Phuong national park travel guide – Explore the beautiful natural scenery
Located 120 kilometers from South-West of Hanoi and stretched on 22,200 ha of rainforest, Cuc Phuong National Park is the centerpiece of Vietnam’s conservation efforts and one of the most accessible parks in the country. Being Vietnam’s largest and first national park, Cuc Phuong's beauty and a few of its thousands of species of plants and animals can be seen with the help of a local park ranger. If you’re not interested in hiking up and down the karst mountains, then an easier alternative if to take a trip to the primate and turtle rehabilitation and breeding centers. Let Whatsup Vietnam provide you with the most useful guides for your trip.
1. How Cuc Phuong is special?
Magnificent limestone mountains rise up majestically from the green rice terraces and traditional stilts houses of the Muong hill tribe. Covered in dense forest, this landscape forms a habitat for some of Asia's rarest animal and plant species. It's no wonder that researchers, naturalists, enthusiasts and conservationists alike are drawn to this corner of the world.
Cuc Phuong is home to an amazing diversity of flora and fauna. Inhabitants of the park include 97 species of mammals, most notable endangered langurs; 300 species of birds; 36 reptilian species; 17 species of amphibians; 11 species of fish; 2,000 species of vascular plants, and thousands of species of insects. A number of species in the park are listed on Vietnam Red Book of endangered species.
Primates in the park include macaques, gibbon, François's leaf monkey and slow loris. Other mammals include bats, porcupine, flying squirrel, small striped squirrel, belly-banded squirrel, and the rare black giant squirrel. In the past the park was home to Asiatic black bears, wild dogs, elephants, rhinos, and tigers, but over hunting and lack of prey have most led to the loss of these species. Leopards, clouded leopards, and jungle cats may still be present in the park.
Flora in the park includes multi-layered canopy; trees up to 70m in height; flowers, including, orchids; ferns with amazingly tall leaves; and an abundance of lianes and cauliflory. The park also contains plants used for such practicalities as spices and medicines as well as edible fruits, nuts, and shoots.
2. Best time to visit Cuc Phuong?
The average temperature in Cuc Phuong is 21 Celsius (70 Fahrenheit), with a mean winter temperature of 9C (48F). High temperatures can reach above 30C (85 F) and lows are just above zero (32 F). At the low elevations in the valley the temperature is hot and humid, while at higher elevations the temperature drops and frostbite is a threat. On average it rains more than 200 days a year and the average annual rainfall is 2,100mm (7 feet). The rain season is from November to February. Thus, you should avoid traveling to Cuc Phuong at that time since the weather is usually cold and wet, which makes the roads too risky to enter the jungle.
April and May are the best months in the year: thousands of colorful and beautiful butterflies appear in the jungle around this time, make a wonderful scene for anyone who treks this place. It would be like getting lost in a whole new world.
3. How to get there?
Coming to Cuc Phuong you can go by motorbike, self-driving car or passenger car. If you go by private car you will feel more comfortable, the car runs deep into the forest.
- Traveling by motorbike or self-driving car: From Hanoi, travel along Highway 1A, to Gian Khau fork (Gia Vien district, 10km from Ninh Binh city) and then continue to turn onto Highway 12A passing through town. Nho Quan 2km then turn left to Cuc Phuong.
- By bus: You can go to Giap Bat bus station to take the Nho Quan bus - from here, get off and take the bus to Cuc Phuong forest.
- By train: If you go by train, you can get the ticket at the station and online at the official site, you can also pay online or at the station. The train is quite comfortable, it is an interesting experience and you can get a bit of sightseeing along the journey.
4. Tourist destinations inside Cuc Phuong national park
Endanger Primate Rescue Center
An important rehabilitation center for Vietnam's critically endangered and majestic primates. Langurs, loris, and gibbon species are housed at the center and include the critically endangered Delacour's Langur, golden-headed langur, Tonkin snub-nosed monkey and black crested gibbon.
The center was established in 1993 with the help of the Frankfurt Zoological Society and has grown to 100 animals in 30 cages, 4 houses, and two semi-wild enclosures. The primate species at the site were confiscated from wildlife smugglers and include representatives of 16 Indochinese primates. The center can be visited during the day and donations are encouraged. A small gift stand is in the center. The center is a 10-minute walk from the park headquarters. 30.000 VND, and price already includes admission to the Turtle Conservation Centre.
The Cuc Phuong Turtle Conservation Center
It was established in 1998 and is home to some of the most endangered turtles in Vietnam. Six-hundred turtles, accounting for 15 of Vietnam’s 23 native species are bred at the center and released back into the wild. At the center it is possible to see hatchlings and adult turtles. The turtles at the center are mostly specimens rescued from smugglers who supply the illegal trade in Vietnamese turtles to China, where they end up on restaurant menus. The center can be visited during the day and donations are encouraged. A small gift box is located in the center. The center is a 10-minute walk from the park headquarters.
Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Center
Located next to the turtle center and houses civets, Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Center includes the rare Owston’s civet, and other small carnivores (including weasels, otters and wild cats) and pangolins rescued from the wildlife trade. Due to quarantine restrictions and the need for secluded breeding facilities for endangered civets the center is not open to visitors unless special arrangements are made in advance.
Ancient cave is antediluvian life mark the dawn of human history, is a unique site in the cultural history of the development of mankind and is a precious heritage situated in the protected object Cuc Phuong National Park. The Ancient Cave is 300 meters long with two very large cave floor, away from the main entrance at about 50 meters, then turn right. This is a dry cave characterized by limestone. The atmosphere is very pleasant here. Maybe this is why prehistoric people, who lived thousands of years ago, chose this cave as a place to reside. Delving deep into the cave whose overall atmosphere is quite murky, although this is a place to visit but there is no electricity in the cave, so it might be frightening dark. Tourists are always recommended to carry flashlights to explore the cave. This cave has many cliffs compartments, stone columns and the small hole in the ceiling of the cave as shelter for some species like centipedes or spiders, but do not be afraid if you just stand on them without moving!
Thousand-year old tree
The thousand-year old tree has three main stems with the diameter of 5 meters and height of 50 meters. Located on the top of Silver Cloud mountain that is in the end of Cuc Phuong forest, it takes 2 hours of trekking in order to get the destination.
In recent years, the authority has built a barrier of concrete piles around the tree to prevent visitors from damaging to the trunk or climbing on the tree. This barrier also aims to ensure that visitors can be kept away from danger when unfortunate branches of dry coriander fall down the ground.
May Bac mountain (Silver cloudy mountain)
Standing on the May Bac peak at the height of 648 meters, you can see the whole of Cuc Phuong landscape, even see the Hoa Lu ancient citadel and Bai Dinh pagoda, the overall view of Trang An, too. Thanks to the climate always being cool at 23 degree Celsius with the annual average rainfall of 1800 millimeters, is so much helpful for your trekking route of 6 kilometers. With about 4 hours of trekking, and if you have no problem with cardiac, this trekking route would be very fabulous!
5. Things to do in Cuc Phuong National Park
Cuc Phuong National Park has built many walking routes in the forest, with different content and time, so you can choose the appropriate routes. There are some walking routes you can explore yourself. With the guide, together with the comprehensive introduction of the guide, surely your trip will become more interesting and meaningful. Camping and staying overnight in the jungle, taking a long walk to the Ngoc Son sanctuary, Pu Luong nature reserve are among appealing things to do.
Ornithologists flock to Cuc Phuong to catch a glance of silver-pheasants, red-collared woodpeckers, brown hornbills, and bar-bellied pitas and others from among the three hundred species that inhabit the park.
Wildlife night spotting
Depending on the weather conditions. The National Park can organize a program to see wildlife at night. You will have the opportunity to see a number of wildlife. Such as Black Squirrel, Flying squirrels, bumblebee, loris...
Kayaking is a more physically challenging activity, but it is also great for any tourists. You should not miss your chance to experience kayaking on Mac Lake and Yen Quang Lake among the very green, peaceful and ideal jungle space.
One of the mysterious discoveries of Cuc Phuong nature is riding bicycles in the forest. Biking in the forest will bring you not only the serene feeling, the true sense of nature but also gives you the opportunity to catch sight of the rare animals in Cuc Phuong.
6. Kindly note something
- The weather in the forest at night and early in the morning is usually cold, you should wear a thin sweater and a raincoat to avoid cold and dew.
- The ideal weather to come to Cuc Phuong is sunny days, when the rainy season passes, the forest will less squeeze and mosquitoes.
- There are always insects in the forest, so if you have young children with you, you should prepare ointment before.
- Food in the forest is not much and plentiful, you should prepare enough food for two days, especially for trips with children.
Written by: Hieu La