CUC PHUONG NATIONAL PARK TRAVEL GUIDE FROM A LOCAL


24 Dec 2021

Cuc Phuong National Park was officially recognized by the Vietnam Records Organization as “the first nature reserve in Vietnam'' in 2005 and “the largest tortoises and freshwater turtles conservation and rescue center” in the year 2010. Cuc Phuong is also recognized as another National Record as “The Center for Rescue and Breeding in Captivity with the Largest Number of Endangered Primates” in 2012, currently a famous and attractive ecotourism destination in Ninh Binh province.

Table Contents
cuc phuong national park
Source: Flickr

Located deep in the heart of Tam Diep mountain range, Cuc Phuong National Park has a total area of 22,408 hectares, with half of it in Nho Quan District, Ninh Binh Province, while the rest in two provinces of Hoa Binh and Thanh Hoa.

I - How to get to Cuc Phuong National Park from Hanoi?

Located 120km Southwest of Hanoi, this national park can be reached from the center of the capital by popular means such as motorbikes or buses:

1 - Traveling by motorcycle

The journey from Hanoi to Cuc Phuong is about 3.5 hours with a distance of about 130km. You can rent motorbikes at some of the following rental units with prices from 100,000 - 400,000 VND / day ($4.4 - 17.67) depending on the type of vehicle:

13535 Motorbike

- Address:

+ Headquarter: No.55 Ham Long Street, Hang Bai Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

+ Branch 1: No.75 Quan Thanh Street - Ward, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi

- Hotline: 0886 613 535 - 0888 286 139

 

cuc phuong national park map

Vietnam Cuc Phuong National Park on map - Source: Flickr

Phung Motorbike

- Address: No.13 Ngo Huyen Street, Hang Trong Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

- Hotline: 0965 936 677 - 0904 253 491

Gia Hung Motorbike Rental

- Address: No.41 Ngo Huyen Street, Hang Trong Ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi

- Hotline: 0936 345 123

Lien Viet Motorbike Rental

- Address: 35 Lang Street, Dong Da District, Hanoi

- Hotline: 0373 816 798 - 0935 139 743

2 - Bus from Hanoi to Cuc Phuong National Park

You can take a bus directly to the gate of the national park from Giap Bat bus station, Hanoi (No. 897 Giai Phong street, Giap Bat ward, Hoang Mai district). The fare is usually 70,000 - 80,000 VND / ticket ($3.1 - 3.53) and the travel time lasts about 3 hours. Another ideal choice is to book a limousine that picks up at the Hanoi Old Quarter and stops at Cuc Phuong National Park gate. The fare, of course, is higher than by bus. 

Dong A limousine

- Hotline: 0933 449 956

- Website: https://dongalimousine.com

The Long travel

- Hotline: 0916 868 355
- Website: https://thelongtravel.com

Duc Hanh bus

- Departure time: 10am 

- Hotline: 0912 607 066

Phu Duyen bus

- Departure time: 3pm

- Hotline 0988 118 215

II - When is the best time to visit Cuc Phuong National Park? 

cuc phuong national park vietnam

 Source: giaoducthoidai

Possessing a climate characterized by the monsoon with an average temperature of 24.7°C, this national park is almost always cool all year round with different beauties depending on the time of year.

1 - From February to April

This is the time when the summer comes, the trees turn green with light sunshine, suitable for exploring and watching birds such as pheasants, marble babblers, white-bellied falcons with wide green beaks, and so on.

2 - Cuc Phuong weather from late April to May

As the brilliant butterfly season with the number of individuals up to millions racing to show off and cover the sky, this is also said to be the best time to visit the national park. It seems that the national park in this season has become a beautiful butterfly forest like a fairyland, with a pleasantly cool atmosphere, welcoming a large number of tourists to come to enjoy.

3 - From July to August

It is the dry season at Cuc Phuong National Park Ninh Binh, so the weather is sunny and beautiful, offering the opportunity to see with your own eyes precious animals such as civets, flying squirrels, chipmunks, red-bellied squirrels, as well as green frogs, gray frogs. However, there are also occasional rains and storms, so if you intend to go there at this time, you should check the Ninh Binh weather forecast carefully before going.

4 - Visiting Cuc Phuong National Park from September to October

At the time of autumn, there will be fewer tourists, so you can comfortably visit the national park without worrying about crowding. In particular, you can go in groups of many people or/and organize camping because the park will be more spacious than in the summer.

5 - From November to January

This is the period when the climate at Cuc Phuong is relatively cold and not suitable for visiting and exploring the diverse ecosystem at the garden. Especially during this period, you should limit your travel because of the complex forest terrain, prone to unnecessary risks.

III - What are there at Cuc Phuong National Park? 

You can be purchased at the entrance gate at the following prices:

- Adults: 60,000 VND / ticket ($2.65)

- Children: 10,000 VND / ticket ($0.44)

1 - Visitor Center

Sponsored by AusAid and FFI, the Visitor Center in the national park was built with the aim of providing full information, documents, and images related to the park, as well as natural resources and the environment in the forest. This is also the first visitor education center established in Indochina, contributing to raising awareness for tourists and the local community about the Cuc Phuong National Park and nature conservation. This is also the place to do the necessary procedures before entering the forest.

2 - Endangered Primate Rescue Center

Built-in early 1994, Endangered Primate Rescue Center (EPRC) is the place to rescue individuals of rare primates in captivity, then return them to the wild environment. The center is also a place to conduct research on primates such as their foraging habits, living habits, environment, and living space.

 

cuc phuong national park ninh binh

Endangered Primate Rescue Center in Cuc Phuong National Park - Source: dulichvietnam

Currently, the Primate Rescue Center at Cuc Phuong Garden is the place to rescue and nurture about 160 individuals of 15 growing species and subspecies, including 6 rare species. Some of them can be mentioned such as white butt langur, Ha Tinh langur, jet black langur, Lao langur, Cat Ba langur, gray-shanked douc langur.

3 - Botanical Garden in Cuc Phuong National Park

As an area built to collect and cultivate rare species of plants, Cuc Phuong Botanical Garden is honored to be one of the first three botanical gardens of Vietnam to be listed in the List of International Botanical Gardens (1997). With a total area of 167ha, the Botanical Garden is currently home to 811 rare tree species to serve the preservation and conservation of genetic resources, including 210 species of Cuc Phuong trees and 85 from other regions in Vietnam. The remaining in Cuc Phuong, up to the present time, are 5 species of imported trees, 25 species of aphid, 20 species of fruit trees, 15 species of bamboo, 17 species of minnows, 15 species of the areca palm, 296 species of medicinal plants, and 140 species of orchids.

4 - Cave of Prehistoric Man

cuc phuong national park in vietnam

Cave of Prehistoric Man - Source: gody.vn

As a relic of the residence and burial of prehistoric people, the Cave of Prehistoric Man is recognized as a valuable heritage in the history of human development. Cave of Prehistoric Man in Cuc Phuong National Park has three compartments with a large, dry, cool, and breathable area because there is a hole on the top of the mountain that lets the wind in. In the cave, there are many stalactites that emit sounds like the sound of gongs and gongs of the Muong people when knocked. Experiencing the excavation process, the Vietnam Institute of Archeology has discovered that the cave has a very rich and diverse cultural layer with remnants of animals and tools.

Not only the Cave of Prehistoric Man but in Cuc Phuong National Park there are also a series of caves chosen by primitive people as a place to live. You can stop by to explore Con Moong Cave, Mang Chieng Cave, Crescent Moon Cave, Son Cung Cave, Thuy Tien Cave, etc.

5 - Ancient Dang tree

Possessing floating roots on the ground running about 200m long, this is a great tree with a beautiful shape with a height of 45m with a diameter of 5m. On the way to the tree location, you can easily encounter rare birds such as red-bellied squirrel, red-headed woodpecker, white pheasant, or Cuc Phuong National Park animals such as squirrel, black squirrel, red-bellied squirrel, langur white butt.

6 - Silver Cloud Peak

Standing on the top of Silver Cloud with a height of 648m, you can get a panoramic view of not only the national park, but also Hoa Lu ancient capital, Bai Dinh pagoda, and the entire Trang An area in the north of Ninh Binh. The route to the top of Cloudy Silver is long and has many rocky slopes with about 6km, it takes 4 hours to go back, so if visitors are in good health, try to participate. This is an ideal place for Cuc Phuong National Park hiking & trekking tours. The climate at the summit of Silver Cloud always fluctuates between 23°C and is cool all year round, suitable for climbing, sightseeing, and camping activities.

7 - The 1000 thousand-year-old tree (Terminalia myriocarpa)

As one of the big old trees in Vietnam, this ancient tree in Cuc Phuong has an impressive height of up to 50m and a diameter of 5m, with a circumference of more than 20 people hugging. Around the tree are giant vines with a root diameter of 0.5m, running for 1km across the forest. From the center of the national park, along the trail, you can reach the old tree with a time of going and returning about 3 hours.

8 - Muong village in Cuc Phuong National Park 

cuc phuong

Muong village - Source: baolaodong

This is a village located deep in Cuc Phuong forest, where the ethnic minority community has lived for more than a thousand years with many typical cultural features such as stilt houses, terraced fields, brocade looms, and so on. Community ecotourism activities organized here can be mentioned as trying the food, sightseeing and participating in local activities, hanging out with campfires, dancing, and even sleeping on stilts. Muong Village is one of the most amazing Cuc Phuong National Park accommodations.

9 - Ancient tree (Dracontomelon)

As one of the biggest trees in the Cuc Phuong forest, the Dracontomelon tree has a height of 45m, with a strong root system that is divided from the trunk at a height of about 10m, then grows to a length of 20m. To visit, you can go from the center of the National Park to the west through a 3km long concrete road, where you might encounter woody vines, epiphytes such as mistletoe, orchid, and precious birds such as red-headed woodpecker, striped-bellied tail…

10 - Discover the cuisine in Cuc Phuong National Park

trang an & cuc phuong national park

The local cuisine - Source: Lazi

Goat meat

Ninh Binh Province is famous for goat meat with firmness, low fat, and irresistible taste, different from grazing meat and in other regions. Therefore, when coming to Cuc Phuong, you should not miss the opportunity to enjoy dishes such as rare goat meat with lemon, goat hot pot, fried goat with lemongrass and chili, pan-fried goat, steamed goat, stewed goat with vegetables… In particular, eating goat meat with typical vegetables of the province, drinking with Kim Son wine or Nho Quan wine will give you a great experience.

Burnt rice

One of the dishes that you must enjoy when you visit Cuc Phuong National Park Vietnam is Ninh Binh burnt rice. Although the dish is rustic and simple, it clearly shows the ingenuity of the cook with its crispy and delicious taste.

Cuc Phuong mountain snail

Known as a unique type of snail because it only appears during a certain period of the year, Cuc Phuong mountain snails are in the breeding season around March and can be caught by locals in July and August. This type of snail in Cuc Phuong National Park is usually thick-bodied with a characteristic flavor because they often eat moss, leaves, and roots of forest trees. Mountain snails are often processed into dishes such as boiled mountain snails, steamed with lemongrass or tamarind sauce, grilled or fried with lemongrass and chili, bringing a delicious taste that once eaten, you will remember forever.

Cuc Phuong Curry Chicken

It would be a mistake to name specialties in Cuc Phuong National Park without saying Ri chicken, a famous domestic animal of Nho Quan District (Ninh Binh Province). As it is raised in mountainous areas with an ideal climate and natural conditions, the Ri chicken here has a delicious taste and is very popular with diners, often processed into dishes such as roasted, boiled, grilled, or shredded chicken meat.

IV - Discovery tours provided by Cuc Phuong National Park

Currently, the national park management organizes a variety of tours, serving the different needs of each person. Regardless of whether it is a day or multi-day tour, you will be served full meals at no extra cost.

- Website: http://cucphuongtourism.com.vn

- Phone number: (+84) 2293 848 006

- Email: dulichcucphuong@hn.vnn.vn/ - dulichcucphuong@gmail.com

1 - Cuc Phuong national park 1-day tour

If you don't have much time and want to see what's best here, you can consider the 1-day tour taking place daily. There are 5 options with some differences in the sightseeing area, but overall you visit the Visitor Center, Endangered Primate Rescue Center, and Cave of Prehistoric Man...

- Duration: 1 day

- Highlights: Visitor Center, Endangered Primate Rescue Center, Prehistoric Man Cave, Thousand-Year Tree.

- Itinerary:

+ In the morning, you will visit the Center area, then the Primate Rescue Center, where you can learn about primates in Vietnam. Then, you will have lunch at the restaurant at the Cuc Phuong National Park’s gate.

+ In the afternoon, you will travel to the National Park Center by car, then walk about 6km to visit the thousand-year-old Tree. On the way back, you will stop at the Ancients Cave, where stone tools and fossil bones of prehistoric people dating back up to 7,500 years are kept. 

2 - Nature and Archaeological value Learning tour

cuc phuong national park tour

A giant tree in the national park - Source: UBND xã Cúc Phương

- Duration: 2 days 1 night

- Highlights: Visitor Center, Endangered Primate Rescue Center, Botanical Garden, Prehistoric Man Cave, Dinosaur Skeleton Fossil,...

- Itinerary:

+ On the first day, in the morning, you come to check in, rest and have lunch at the restaurant at Cuc Phuong National Park Ninh Binh gate area. In the afternoon, you will start to visit attractions such as the Visitor Center, Endangered Primate Rescue Center, and walk in the Botanical Garden before returning for dinner and staying overnight.

+ The second day, after breakfast, you will start to visit the Ancient Man's Cave, followed by the ancient Dang Tree, and last but not least the fossil skeleton of a blade-toothed reptile about 200 - 230 million years old.

3 - Camping and Wildlife Experience Tour

- Duration: 2 days 1 night

- Highlights: Endangered Primate Rescue Center, trekking, camping and staying overnight in the forest, bird watching, and night wildlife viewing.

- Itinerary:

+ You arrive at Cuc Phuong National Park in Vietnam around 9am and visit the Endangered Primate Rescue Center, then move by car to the starting point at the border of the primeval forest. From here, you will walk about 4 to 5 hours to reach a large valley, where you will have lunch, dinner, and stay overnight in the forest by tent, and if you are lucky, you might encounter the black-and-white rump langur - a world-widely rare primate. Go camping in Cuc Phuong National Park, you can join the guide of the National Park and local people, using flashlights to learn and observe wild animals that are active at night such as flying squirrels, lorises, civets, bats, owls and small carnivores.

+ Next morning, you will have breakfast then hike to reach the Muong village and go out by car - end of the program.

4 - Ninh Binh & Cuc Phuong Countryside Tour

- Duration: 3 days 2 nights

- Highlights: boating at Van Long Nature Reserve, cycling through villages, rice fields and jungle, visiting Endangered Primate Rescue Center and Thousand-Year Tree, night wildlife, and bird watching.

- Itinerary:

+ Day 1: Departing from Hanoi, you go to Van Long conservation area (Gia Vien district, Ninh Binh province), where you will paddle 1.5 - 2 hours, sightseeing around and observe the black and white langur in the wild. After lunch, you cycle to Cuc Phuong National Park with a distance of about 40km passing through villages and rice fields, along Hoang Long dike and the countryside of Gia Vien and Nho Quan districts. On the route, you have the opportunity to learn about the daily life of the locals, visit the temple of Saint Nguyen and Van Trinh Cave. Arriving at the gate of the national park, you will check in, rest, have dinner at a restaurant.

+ Day 2: After breakfast, you will visit the primate conservation center and turtle conservation center. In the nest part of your Cuc Phuong National Park tour, there is a 7km bike ride into the forest to visit Prehistoric Man Cave, a 12km bike ride to the forest center to check-in and have lunch at the restaurant. In the afternoon, you visit the thousand-year-old Tree and when the night falls, it’s time to go with the guide to observe wild animals before spending the night at the hotel in the forest center.

+ Day 3: After breakfast, you walk to see the birds, finally cycle back to the Garden gate and have lunch. 

5 - Cuc Phuong National Park: natural & cultural experience tour

- Duration: 3 days 2 nights

- Highlights: Visitor Center, Endangered Primate Rescue Center, Prehistoric Man Cave, Ancient Dracontomelon Tree, sleeping in Muong village (Khanh village).

- Itinerary:

+ Day 1: You will visit the Visitor Center and the Primate Rescue Center, before having lunch at the restaurant at the garden gate. Afternoon is the time to visit the Ancients Cave and move by car to the Garden Center to check in and rest. On the first night, you will have dinner and stay at the Visitor Center at the center of Cuc Phuong National Park Vietnam.

+ Day 2: You will have a journey to walk through the forest to Muong village to enjoy the dishes in the typical culinary culture of the Muong people and learn about the local culture. In the evening, you will stay in a traditional stilt house and participate in a folk music program.

+ Day 3: After having breakfast, you can walk around the village, rafting on Buoi river before leaving.

6 - The full Cuc Phuong experience tour 

- Duration: 4 days 3 nights

- Highlights: In this Cuc Phuong National Park tour, you have to chance to learn about nature, cultural ​​and archaeological values. Some attractions to visit: Visitor Center, Endangered Primate Rescue Center, Botanical Garden, Prehistoric Cave, Dinosaur Skeleton Fossil, Ancient Dang Tree, Thousand-Year Tree, Silver Cloud Peak.

- Itinerary:

+ Day 1: You check-in, rest, and have lunch at the restaurant at the gate of the national park before going to visit the sites in the afternoon. After visiting the Visitor Center, Primate Rescue Center and Botanical Garden, you return to the Cuc Phuong National Park gate area and have dinner and rest.

+ Day 2: You will be taken by car to the starting point and then walk about 9km to visit the ancient Dang Tree and the fossil skeleton. After having lunch in the forest, you go back to the garden gate to have dinner and rest.

+ Day 3: After breakfast, you visit the Prehistoric Man Cave, then move by car to the Visitor Center to check-in, rest and have lunch at the restaurant here. In the afternoon of this Cuc Phuong National Park trekking tour, you will walk about 6km to visit the primeval forest, the thousand-year-old tree before going back to have dinner and rest in the center of the forest.

+ Day 4: Visitors will walk about 3km from the center to Silver Cloud Peak and conquer an altitude of 650m above sea level. From the top of this peak, visitors have the opportunity to admire the panoramic view of Cuc Phuong National Park and surrounding places, before getting out of the car and leaving, ending the tour.

With a diverse ecosystem and a variety of sightseeing and discovery activities, Cuc Phuong is an ideal destination for travelers who love adventure or nature and the environment. If you have the opportunity to come to Vietnam on nice weather days and want to make beautiful memories during your discovery journey, you absolutely should not miss Cuc Phuong National Park Ninh Binh.

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I'm Giang - a Vietnamese with a passion for photography and travel. Two years ago I left my job to start traveling to explore Vietnam. It's great that I can share my travel experiences with you. I hope it will help you have a memorable trip to Vietnam.

Giang Phạm — Giang Phạm

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