Travel Guide to Cuc Phuong National Park in Ninh Binh Vietnam
Cuc Phuong National Park (Vietnamese: Vườn Quốc Gia Cúc Phương) is located in Ninh Binh Province, about 120km South-West of Hanoi, Vietnam with an area of 22,200 ha rainforest This National Park is the centerpiece of Vietnam’s conservation efforts and one of the most accessible national parks in the country.
The Highlights of Cuc Phuong National Park:
1. Magnificent Limestone and Landscape
The landscape of Cuc Phuong National Park is located on 2 limestone mountain ranges and a wonderfully rich ecosystem. Apart from the lush valleys and verdant karst mountain, the limestone formations of the national park produced numerous caves, many of which are accessible for tourist to explore.
Visiting “Nguoi Xua” Cave (Cave of the Early Man), you will see the two new discovered tombs along of ancient people with Neolithic remains and evidence of stone implements. You will have similar findings at the following caves/Grotoes: Thanh Minh and Con Mong, Trang Khuyet (Crescent Moon), and Hang Dan (well known for Bat).
2. Cultural Value of Cuc Phuong National Park
In earlier times, Cuc Phuong National Park was home to the Muong minority people and today, you can still see their traditional stilted houses in the area. The rocky outcrops of the national park contain valuable archeological vestiges such as evidence of prehistoric people, who lived in the forest some 7500 years ago, a fossilized sea reptile dated at 200 – 230 million years ago.
As being the oldest national park of Vietnam, Cuc Phuong national park is attached to a long-lasting history. In 1960, the area was turned into a forest reserve, and then granted a “National Park” 2 years later in 1962 by President Ho Chi Minh for reminding his people of the environment’s core value in their life. Yet there had already been some relationship between Cuc Phuong and mankind before this event. The remains of prehistoric people dating 7,000-12,000 years ago have been found in some caves in the national park.
3. Diversified Flora-Fauna of Cuc Phuong National Park
Cuc Phuong National Park is also popular for being home to a huge diversity of fauna and flora. The botanical richness of the national park is impressive since it supports a wide variety of species and patches of primeval forest, including the ancient trees with thick clusters of roots, ligneous creepers and parasitic plants. Some of the plant species have been introduced from Burma, India, and Borneo.
Cuc Phuong has 97 species of mammals, 300 species of birds, 17 species of amphibians, 36 reptilian species, 11 species of fish and thousands of species of insects, most of them do not bite. A number of species in the national park are listed on Vietnam Red Book of endangered species.
Visiting Cuc Phuong National Park, do not miss your chance to visit the primates; including macaques, gibbon, Francois’ leaf monkey and slow loris. Besides, the national park is also the home for other mammals including bats, squirrel, leopard, porcupine, clouded leopard and jungle cat in Cuc Phuong. Migrant species include thrushes, tits, finches, flycatchers, pipits amongst others. Horn-bills can also be discovered in the forest.
4. Entertainment Activities in Cuc Phuong National Park
Look for some Activities in the national park? Do not forget to join in the community-based eco-tourism and home-stays. You should take a trekking tour to the Muong village where the hospitable local ethnic group offer you 1 or 2 nights’ home-stay in their traditional stilt houses. This will bring you an opportunity to explore their traditional culture and try out bamboo river rafting as well.
You can also have excellent hiking opportunities, and spend some days trekking though the jungle. The Popular trekking trails to 1000 year old tree, other ancient trees, Muong village and silver cloudy peak. Tourists may join night-spotting activity into the primary forest. These offer a chance to see the more exclusive mammal species of the park, including the black giant squirrel, samba deer, the Indian flying squirrel, and several small carnivores.
Do not forget to bring the binoculars with you, because Cuc Phuong National Park is home to a wealth of beautiful tropical birds, many of them are endemic in Vietnam and Indochina. Some of rare birds that you might encounter are red-collared woodpecker, the silver-pheasant, brown horn-bill, bar-bellied pita, and so forth.
For further interests, we recommend to take a tour to biodiversity hotspots. At the moment the national park has a total of 43 biodiversity hotspots. All of them are already recognized by the scientific department of the national park and they offer you and excellent chance to study and to see many different species of tropical plants.
One of the best way to experience Cuc Phuong is by cycling through the jungle. This you not only silence and a cool breeze, but it is also a great way to experience the more secretive animals and birds of Cuc Phuong.
How to Get/Travel to Cuc Phuong National Park in Ninh Binh Province?
The first and cheapest way is to take a local bus from Hanoi at Giap Bat Bus Terminal at around 200,000 VND to Nho Quan district, then catch a motorcycle taxi or metered taxi to the park headquarters for about 30,000 dong. The total travel time is about from 2.30 to 3.30 hours. Rent a private car with driver from travel agencies is also another option for you.
If you plan on making only a day trip for trekking and visiting the park, you should book through a travel agency. However, if you’re going to spend for one night or more, then the public local bus option is viable. There are quite a few tour agencies offering day trip from Hanoi to Cuc Phuong national park. You can compare some itineraries to pick one that best fitted your time and liking.
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