Located about 100 km South of Hanoi, Cuc Phuong is the first and one of the most impressive national parks in Vietnam. The primary rainforest is coated with layers of fauna and flora, caves and hot springs. Trees that have lived for the millennium are not rare, and it is striking how they survived the numerous battles that Vietnam has gone through.
At the rear entrance gate to the park, there is a center for preserving endangered species sponsored by a German development agency. Within the forest itself, bird-watching is a popular activity and as you walk or bike the trail, it is possible to catch sight of many reptiles or animals.
What to bring
Hiking shoes for slippery trails are highly recommended. Apply plenty of bug-repellent before you enter the park. It is also advisable to take a bottle of water with you as the walk can be strenuous. There are stone-based tables dotted along the way, which make a picnic meal ideal for the trip.
Best time to visit: the dry season from December to April is the best time for visit, since the trails are less slippery. Some caves may not allow entrance during wet season for safety reasons.
At the entrance gate, there is an information center where you can obtain a map of the trails. There are also restaurants, souvenir shops, and a mini hotel at affordable rates ($10 per room). You might also consider renting a bike from the information center instead of taking the car option.
As you approach the park, there is another accommodation facility with more authentic natural feel. Staying the stilt house is a memorable experience but not recommendable for those who do not tolerate mosquitoes and biting insects.
Example of trails and routes
Fauna and flora garden: especially good for sunrise or sunset. The trail is about 3 km and lasts up to 2 hours. Observation tower: a short walk up the mountain with beautiful landscape that takes about 1 hour.
Camping overnight: require the assistance of a guide from the park and local people, including watching wild animals at night. Camping equipment need to be rented from Hanoi.