Cuc Phuong National Park (Vietnamese: Vườn quốc gia Cúc Phương) is located in Ninh Binh Province, in Vietnam's Red River Delta. Cuc Phuong was Vietnam's first national park and is the country's largest nature reserve. The park is one of the most important sites for biodiversity in Vietnam. There are plenty of plants and mammals living in the park. There are an estimated 2,000 different species of flora and the 450 species fauna account for 38% of the national fauna. The vegetation cover is classified into three types. The flora is quite a treasure with a wide variety of 1,944 species, 908 genuses and 229 families. Especially it is enjoyable to touch the thousand-year-old “cho xanh” (parashrea stellata) and “sau” (Dracontomelum Duperranum or Dancorra Edulis) trees, 50-70m high. This natural reserve is covered with 2,000 species of plants. Especially orchid flowers are abundant with 50 species, some of which blossom and have aroma all year around. The fauna is diversified represented by 71 animal species, 319 bird species, 33 reptile species, and 16 amphibian species. Rare species include the bear, horse, wild boar, tiger, leopard, fox, squirrel, monkey, etc. A large area, for half-natural breeding, is reserved for raising wild animals such as the spotted deer, deer, golden monkey, langur (vooc quan dui), flying squirrel, draco (than lan bay) and for research. The Park is also home to hundreds of beautiful and strange birds and butterflies.
Day 1: Hanoi – Cuc Phuong National Park (-/L/D)
7:30 – 8:00 a.m: Pick you up from hotel in Hanoi and transfer to Cuc Phuong National Park (140km).
11.00 a.m: Arrive Park; visit Turtle Conservation Center, the Endangered Primate Rescue Center - one of the highlights of a visit to Cuc Phuong, where you can observe some of the rarest primate species in the world. The primate center houses specimens of langurs, loris, and gibbon species, include the critically endangered Delacour's Langur, Golden-headed Langur, Tonkin Snub-nosed Langur and Black Crested Gibbon. The primate center was established in 1993 with the help of the Frankfurt Zoological Society and has grown to 100 animals in 30 cages, 4 houses, and two semi-wild enclosures.
12.00: Have lunch in a local restaurant at park headquarter.
1.00 p.m: In the afternoon, visit the Cave of Prehistoric Man, where human skeletons and stone tools dated to some 7.500 years old have been found. After leaving the cave, the car will bring you to the park center where you will begin hiking a 7km loop trail to see the 1000 year old tree. On this trail you will have a chance to discover the secrets of nature.
3.00 p.m: Back to the gate of National Pack, check in hotel and have free time to wander around by yourself.
7.00 p.m: Have dinner at the restaurant and enjoy secret of natural at evening.
What to bring: Boots/walking shoes/sport shoes, headlights, clothes (warm clothes in winter), hat, camera, binoculars, insect repellent...etc.
Day 2: Cuc Phuong – Mai Chau - Pu Luong (B/L/D)
8.00 a.m: After breakfast, enjoy 3 hours by car through rice fields and villages forward to Mai Chau.
11.00 a.m: Arrive Mai Chau, come in and visit stilt houses of Thai people, stilt houses border both sides of the roads. The houses are quite large with palm leaf roofs and polished bamboo-slat floors. The kitchen is located in the center of the house; the cooking as well as the making of the colorful tho cam, the material used by Thai minority to make their clothes, takes place in the kitchen. The windows are large and decorated with patterns. Each house also usually has a pond to breed fish.
12.00: Have lunch in local restaurant, especially enjoy the minority specialty dishes including rice cooked in bamboo and grilled meat.
1:30 p.m: Take the bus for 25 minutes to Ma River, the third largest river in Vietnam. Boating is our next adventure along Ma River around 1 hour. The Ma River (Vietnamese: Sông Mã, Laos: Nam Ma) is a river in Asia, originating in northwestern Vietnam. It runs for 400 km through Vietnam, Laos, and then back through Vietnam, meeting the sea at the Gulf of Tonkin.
2.30 p.m: The trek today about 8 km and take us from 2.5 to 3 hours through Chieng village to Sai village, Duom village and Hang village, magnificent rice paddies with impressive traditional bamboo water wheel. The highlight on this walk is experiencing the beauty of Pu luong Nature Reserve, the everyday life and culture of the white Thai people, you can have chat and conversation with some local families to understand more there culture and custom of them. The Thai language belongs to the Tay-Thai Group. They have a valuable legacy of myths, legends, ancient tales, versed stories, and folk songs. In the past, the Thai respected the selling and buying of marriage and the son-in-law’s staying with the girl’s family. To marry a husband, the girl’s family needs to take two basic steps:
- Up marriage (dong khun): means the introduction and bringing of the son-in-law to live with the girl’s family, which is a step to test his personality and hard work. The Black Thai women generally adopt the custom of wearing their hair in as bun or chignon immediately after this first wedding ceremony. The son-in-law will stay at his wife’s home for 8 to 12 years.
- Down marriage (dong long): the bringing of the couple and their family.
5.30 p.m: Arrive Hang village, check in homestay.
7.30 p.m: Enjoy dinner and walking around village.
Day 3: Pu Luong – Mai Chau – Hanoi (B, L)
8.00 a.m: After breakfast, go to visit Stone Cave in the village.
9.00 a.m: Trek to Duom II village. The first part of the trail is hard with some steep climbs up and stream crossings. The second stage is glorious with beautiful views of the valley, rice terraces, rich rain forests, and meandering streams.
10. a.m: Take the bus back to Mai Chau, take time to visit Lac village, and PomCoong village, the Ban Lac People have Thai ancestors that settled in the North-Western area of Vietnam. The two tribes, White Thai and black Thai, settled in the same area and make up the largest ethnic population of the region.
3.00 p.m: Take the bus back to Hanoi.
6.00 p.m: Arrival hotel, tour finish.