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Cuc Phuong National Park Ninh Binh: The OLDEST nature reserve of Vietnam

12/01/2024 117.615

Cuc Phuong National Park in Ninh Binh, with its lush greenery, diverse flora and fauna, and spectacular scenery, is an excellent choice for a weekend getaway from Hanoi.

Cuc Phuong National Park

If you are looking for a quick getaway from Hanoi's hustle and bustle to experience real wilderness, Cuc Phuong National Park Ninh Binh is an excellent choice. Cuc Phuong National Park is a large natural park with a diverse ecosystem and a conservation site for endangered species. It is also home to the Muong ethnic minority, who have a distinct culture.

1. Where is Cuc Phuong National Park Vietnam?

  • Address: Nho Quan District, Ninh Binh Province
  • Cuc Phuong National Park entrance fee: 
    • Adults: 60,000 VND
    • Students: 20,000 VND
    • Children: 10,000 VND

Cuc Phuong National Park spans an area of 22,408 hectares. It is spread out over three provinces: Ninh Binh, Hoa Binh, and Thanh Hoa. It is approximately 120 kilometers away from Hanoi and 55 kilometers away from Ninh Binh City. About 70 percent of the total area belongs to Ninh Binh Province.

Cuc Phuong National Park was established in 1962 and is Vietnam’s first and largest national park. It is the habitat of a wide variety of flora and fauna, including a dense forest full of millennia-old trees, botanical gardens, and a plethora of birds, mammals, reptiles, and colorful butterflies. Two animal sanctuaries are also located here. 

To be specific, Cuc Phuong National Park is home to 336 bird species, 135 animal species, 122 reptile species, and over 2,234 plant species.

Cuc Phuong National Park

2. What can be found in Cuc Phuong National Park?

2.1. Cuc Phuong Museum

Cuc Phuong Museum is one of the must-see places in Cuc Phuong National Park tours. It comprises over 13,000 exhibits of flora and mushrooms; 450 exhibits of mammals, birds, reptiles, and frogs; 4,000 exhibits of insects; and 300 exhibits of minerals, fossils, and ancient artifacts. 

2.2. May Bac Peak (Silver Cloudy Peak)

At an altitude of 648 meters, May Bac Peak is the highest peak in Cuc Phuong National Park. It offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the park's forest and lowlands, as well as the historic capital Hoa Lu and Bai Dinh Pagoda. The trail to May Bac Peak is one of the most exciting hiking trails for intrepid travelers.

Cuc Phuong National Park

2.3. Prehistoric caves

A trip to Cuc Phuong National Park Ninh Binh will never be complete without a visit to the majestic caves amidst the forest. Cuc Phuong's rocky outcrops are the locations of priceless paleontological and anthropological remnants, such as a petrified sea reptile that dates to between 200 and 230 million years ago. The numerous mountain caves also contain the remains of prehistoric people who lived in the forest around 7,500 years ago.

  • Prehistoric Man Cave: A habitation of primitive humans who lived in Ninh Binh between 7,000 and 12,500 years ago. Here, you will also find two newly found ancient tombs, Neolithic bones, and evidence of stone tools.
  • Con Moong Cave: In the language of the Muong ethnic people, “Con Moong” means animals. There is a large, animal-shaped stone at the entrance of the cave. This cave was once inhabited by ancient people and is a significant archaeological site.
  • Trang Khuyet Cave (Crescent Cave): This cave is nestled deep in the forest. The entrance to this cave is shaped like a waning moon when viewed from afar.
Cuc Phuong National Park

2.4. Hundred-year-old trees

Another highlight of Cuc Phuong National Park is its large number of ancient trees.

  • Dang ancient tree: With a height of 45 meters, a diameter of 5 meters, and a 20-meter-long root system on the ground, this tree has lived for a very long time and draws people with its imposing appearance.
  • Thousand-year-old tree: This is the oldest tree in Cuc Phuong National Park. It has a height of 45 meters, a diameter of 5 meters, and its trunk is large enough to be circled by the arms of at least 20 adults.
  • Sau ancient tree: With an appealing shape resembling a solid wall, the Sau tree is a great spot for you to rest under its enormous leaf canopy, given its 45-meter height and 10-meter-tall root system.
Cuc Phuong National Park

2.5. Conservation centers

2.5.1. Cuc Phuong Botanical Garden

This is Vietnam's first botanical garden. It opened in 1985 as part of a system of national parks and protected areas. As one of the three botanical gardens in Vietnam that are on the list of International Botanical Gardens, this place aims to maintain genetic resources, rare plants, and establish a semi-wild, protected area for wildlife release programs.

2.5.2. Endangered Primate Rescue Center

The Endangered Primate Rescue Center was founded in 1993 as a result of the cooperation between the Frankfurt Zoological Society and Cuc Phuong National Park. This place is home to more than 180 primates from 15 different species. Some of these primates are very rare, like the Cat Ba Langur, Delacour's Langur, and Grey-Shank Douc Langur. The center helps the animals get ready to live in the wild again by giving them semi-wild environments.

Cuc Phuong National Park

2.5.3. Turtle Conservation Center

This center was founded by the Fauna and Flora International in 1998, and administration was handed over to Cuc Phuong National Park in 2001. The Turtle Conservation Center is the cornerstone for the preservation and conservation efforts of tortoises and freshwater turtles in Vietnam. In addition, it helps raise awareness about the serious threats to turtles.

>>> Vietnam where to go: Charming destinations await your exploration!

3. Guide to your first ever Cuc Phuong National Park tour

3.1. The ideal time to visit Cuc Phuong National Park

Cuc Phuong National Park features a tropical monsoon climate. The average temperature here is about 24.7 degrees Celsius.

This Ninh Binh national park is at its best during the dry season, which lasts from December to May. In this period, the weather is cool and bright, perfect for outdoor pursuits. In contrast, during the rainy season, the roads become slick, and insects and leeches are more prevalent, so it is best to stay put then. 

Below is a summary of Cuc Phuong weather and travel conditions in its most beautiful season.

  • From November to January: Dry and cold. Winter clothing is necessary. 
  • From January to April: Dry and sunny. This is the ideal season for bird-watching.
  • From Mid-April to early May: The butterfly season in Cuc Phuong National Park. However, there is a likelihood of rain, and the roads will be slippery, making it dangerous to trek.
Cuc Phuong National Park

>>> Read more: Vietnam weather - the best time to travel to Vietnam!

3.2. The best way to get to Cuc Phuong National Park

Cuc Phuong National Park is an ideal destination for a quick getaway from Hanoi. Travelers can reach there by bus, motorcycle, or car.

3.2.1. By bus

Taking a bus from Hanoi to Cuc Phuong National Park is the best option for those on a tight budget. Bus fares vary depending on the type of bus you board, but it normally ranges between 100,000 - 150,000 VND. 

Many bus companies offer pick-up services, while some only pick up guests at Giap Bat Bus Station. You may need to take a taxi or a mototaxi to get to Cuc Phuong National Park from Ninh Binh, as some buses only drop you off at the city center.

3.2.2. By private car

Renting cars is more expensive but more comfortable, especially for foreigners who are not familiar with Vietnamese roads. It is unquestionably a superior option when you travel in a large group, as you will not need to worry about being squeezed on a crowded bus.

Cuc Phuong National Park

3.2.3. By motorbike

Traveling by motorbike to this Ninh Binh national park is the preferred choice of adventurous travelers. You can easily search for the route on Google Maps to get to the entrance of the park. It will take about 3 - 3.5 hours to go from Hanoi to Cuc Phuong National Park by motorbike.

3.3. Top not-to-be-missed experiences in Cuc Phuong National Park

3.3.1. Cycle around the forest

Cycling is among the most exciting things to do in a Cuc Phuong National Park tour. You can explore the surroundings at your own leisure and have a chance to encounter hard-to-spot Cuc Phuong National Park animals.

3.3.2. Go kayaking

Kayaking on Mac Lake and Yen Quang Lake is a popular activity for visitors to Cuc Phuong National Park. You can float on the lake and take in the stunning natural environment at only 50,000 VND/hour. If you are traveling in a large group, you can organize a kayaking race, which is sure to liven things up.

Cuc Phuong National Park

3.3.3. Butterfly watching

The swarms of butterflies that gather in the park around late spring and early summer are one of the most famous attractions of this place. As the habitat of more than 400 species of butterflies, Cuc Phuong National Park is a perfect location for butterfly watching.

3.3.4. Go Cuc Phuong National Park trekking

A Cuc Phuong National Park hike is the highlight of this destination. Travelers may spend days hiking in the park's dense forest, taking advantage of the many fantastic trekking options available there. You can find ancient trees, caves, and hamlets of the Muong ethnic people along popular hiking trails. 

You can ask for a Cuc Phuong National Park map from the park rangers to locate the trailheads. Still, a guided tour is the best way to make the most of any hike. There are also longer hikes, such as those to Ngoc Son Nature Reserve and Pu Luong Nature Reserve, as well as overnight treks and camping expeditions.

Cuc Phuong National Park

3.3.5. See wild animals at night

Taking a wildlife night tour is one of the most intriguing things to do in Cuc Phuong National Park. Depending on the weather, the park rangers will arrange fascinating animal watching activities at night. Many wild animals, such as black squirrels, flying squirrels, roe deer, and tiny carnivores, can be observed. Tourists can make reservations for this thrilling adventure at the central ticket booth.

3.3.6. Camp in the forest

The national park is an ideal location for camping. During the day, you can camp on the flat ground beneath the trees. If you wish to camp overnight, set up your tent on the designated cement areas. Daytime camping is free, but there is a nominal cost for overnight stays.

Cuc Phuong National Park

3.4. Extra tips for your trip to Cuc Phuong National Park

3.4.1. What to pack

  • Long-sleeved clothing, a thin sweater, and a raincoat
  • Insect repellent
  • Thick, high socks (to avoid leeches)
  • Sneakers or hiking shoes
  • Hats, sunglasses, sunscreen
  • Flashlight
  • Water and food
  • A good camera
  • Camping tools

3.4.2. What to eat in Cuc Phuong National Park

During your Cuc Phuong National Park tour from Ninh Binh, aside from taking in the beauty of nature, do not forget to try the local specialties. Below are some must-tries that you should not miss out on:

  • Goat meat 
  • “Com chay” (scorched rice)
  • Grilled chicken
  • Mountain snail
  • Muong rice wine
Cuc Phuong National Park

3.4.3. Where to stay in Cuc Phuong National Park?

Regarding Cuc Phuong National Park accommodation, there are three main locations for lodging: the Park Gate area, the Ho Mac area, and the Central area (Bong Hamlet). 

  • Park Gate area

There are many different kinds of rooms in this area, such as stilt houses, apartments, and guesthouses. Rentals begin at 200,000 VND. This area is also the starting point for all tourist activities, including guided tours, wildlife observation at night, kayaking, and folk shows. In addition, forest-trekking equipment and bicycles can be rented here.

  • Ho Mac (Mac Lake) area

Around 1.5 kilometers away from the Park Gate area, the Mac Lake area is a tranquil spot with a refreshing and soothing atmosphere. There are private rooms and shared stilts available. This location is conducive to group activities, campfires, and cultural performances.

Cuc Phuong National Park
  • Bong Hamlet (the center of the forest)

It is about 20 kilometers away from the Park Gate area. Due to the lack of electricity at this location, the accommodations here only run a generator for approximately four hours every night. They won't turn on the generator if there aren't enough people staying.

4. Must-visit attractions near Cuc Phuong National Park

In addition to Cuc Phuong National Park, Ninh Binh boasts a wealth of attractions for tourists to explore. To make the most of your trip to Ninh Binh, don’t miss out on the following destinations:

  • Tam Coc: Often referred to as "Halong Bay on land", Tam Coc enchants nature lovers with breathtaking karst, picturesque rice paddies, and ancient temples. Taking a boat tour along the winding waterways of Ngo Dong River is a must-try here. Keep in mind that the best time to visit Tam Coc is during the harvest season, which is from mid-April to early June.
  • Bai Dinh Pagoda: Considered one of the largest temple complexes in Vietnam and in Southeast Asia, Bai Dinh Pagoda covers an area of 700 ha and consists of an ancient temple and a new pagoda. Here, you will be amazed by a variety of Arhat statues with different expressive nuances, bronze sculptures, grottos, caves, etc.
  • Trang An: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is known for its stunning karst landscape and intricate cave systems. Travelers can enjoy boat trips through the serene river and mysterious caves. Along the way, you will encounter ancient temples and pagodas nestled amidst the karst formations.
  • Mua Cave: For those seeking a bit of a challenge, Mua Cave is a must-visit. Climbing up 500 steps to the top, you will have a vivid and panoramic view of Tam Coc. At the highest location, you can see a tower with traditional Vietnamese architecture. It is a great place to take magnificent photos with clear blue sky, majestic mountains, and vast fields behind.
Cuc Phuong National Park

Cuc Phuong National Park and other tourist attractions, like Trang An Complex, Bai Dinh Pagoda, Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, Mua Caves, Tam Coc - Bich Dong, Thung Nham Bird Park, etc., have made Ninh Binh an appealing location for Vietnam travel. The S-shaped land is also home to several fantastic destinations, such as Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Hoi An, and Ha Long, to name a few. With its stunning natural settings and vibrant culture, Vietnam is undoubtedly an ideal place for your vacation.

If you are about to visit Vietnam, finding a reliable place to stay is very important. The hotel and resort system of Vinpearl, with its properties situated in many famous destinations (Vinpearl Phu QuocVinpearl Nha TrangVinpearl Resort & Golf Nam Hoi An, Vinpearl Resort & Spa Ha Long), is a great place to spend your nights. Its luxury accommodations feature first-rate amenities and excellent services, all promising to bring guests the ultimate pleasure during their stay.

Cuc Phuong National Park

 

Cuc Phuong National Park

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Thanks to its exceptional diversity of flora and fauna, breathtaking natural scenery, and rich culture, Cuc Phuong National Park in Ninh Binh has been a popular tourist attraction for visitors all over the world. A trip to Cuc Phuong will allow you to leave all your worries behind and immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature. Do not hesitate to add it to your Vietnam itinerary, as what it offers will not let you down.

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