100 kilometers to the south of Hanoi, Cuc Phuong National Park is conveniently located on the route to several tourist attractions, including Bich Dong Pagoda, Hoa Lu, and Sam Son Beach. It was officially opened in 1960 as the first national park in Ninh Binh Province in particular and Vietnam in general. With the total area of 22,000 hectares, Cuc Phuong National Park is surrounded by a range of myriad limestone cliffs. There are multitudes of plants and mammals living in the park, with an estimated 2,000 different species of flora and 450 species of fauna accounting for 38% of the entire national fauna.
Cuc Phuong National Part - A Heavenly Garden
The flora here is very much diverse with 1,944 species. The most two distinct features of all are an ancient green oak and dracontomelum tree both lasted about 1000 years with the height of 50 – 70 meters. There are over 50 types of orchids only, some of which blossom and generate fragrance all year round.
97 mammals, 137 birds, 76 reptiles, 46 amphibians, 11 fish and thousands of insects species are witnessed at Cuc Phuong National Park, many of which are listed in Vietnamese Red Book. These include various rare animals such as bears, horses, wild boar, tigers, leopards, ferrets, squirrels, and monkeys. Also, the half natural livestock farms of spotted deer, deer, golden monkeys, langur, flying squirrels are for observation of both scientists and ordinary people. Notably, Cuc Phuong is home to hundreds of exotically beautiful butterflies and birds.
A series of divergent caves
The original forest combining with its steep terrain has created fascinating landscapes which are hidden treasures of culture and history including Crescent Cave, Lord Cave, Thuy Tien Cave, Cistercian Cave, Con Moong Cave, and Coral Cave. All of these belong to prehistory, but each has its charms: the Crescent Cave’s entrance is shaped like a new moon, while the Thuy Tien Cave resembles King Qi Shui’s Palace with underwater fairies. Also, lies in the garden a 38 ºC hot springs.
16 kilometers away from the center of Cuc Phuong National Park is Muong Village or Khanh Village (An Nghia Commune, La Son District, Hoa Binh Province). The road to Muong Village is craggy with many steps, which takes you about 6 – 8 hours even with a guide to walk you through. But if you are in love with the culture of Muong minority with traditional stilt houses and imposing rice terraces, this is the journey for you.
… and Other gifts from Mother Earth
The highest of all mountain peak in Cuc Phuong is “May Bac” (Silver Cloud) of about 650 meters high. From here travelers can immerse in the extraordinary panorama of all the forests and plains of four districts out of three provinces including Ninh Binh, Hoa Binh, and Thanh Hoa.
Yen Quang Lake is yet another appeal of Cuc Phuong National Park, painted with the gorgeous view of jagged cliffs and greenery trees. In the heart of Yen Quang Lake emerges a small island where an ancient pagoda is settled. The lake’s surface also gathers numerous kinds of water birds. Therefore this is also a bird-watching site for the tourists.
When to get there
Under the impact of tropical monsoon climate, Cuc Phuong experiences an average temperature of 24.7 ºC. The best season to visit Cuc Phuong National Park is between December and April when excessive forest rains have passed. There are some tours to choose from including hiking, trekking, and other adventurous tours but after all, Cuc Phuong National Park offers a whole package for the nature-lovers of all kinds.
One of the best way to discover Cuc Phuong National Park is book a tour: http://hanoidaytours.net/extended-tours/discovering-cuc-phuong-national-park-23.html