I have been fortunate enough to travel with my family to places, remote and metropolitan, in Thailand, Vietnam, and China for the past month. Despite the extent of our trip, one place grabbed all of my attention. Ever since my dad mentioned the Cuc Phuong National Park in the Ninh Binh province of Vietnam, I couldn't wait go there.
After staying a night in Ha Noi, Vietnam's second largest city about three hours north of Cuc Phuong, we took a bus down to Ninh Binh, the city closest to Cuc Phuong. From there we took a taxi to where we were staying two nights, at the Cuc Phuong Resort and Spa. The taxi drive was scenic but frustrating, as the taxi driver had to stop at least eight times to ask for directions because it seemed like he had no idea where he was going. After an hour of driving through rice paddies and blazing heat, we finally arrived at the resort, which seemed like an oasis. The resort was nice, but it was very new and you could tell, as the staff was still getting accustomed to serving its guests (the only restaurant to eat at was in the resort).
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But alas, the day had come. I was so excited to see all of the animals and bugs and plantlife in the park (I'm a big outdoorsy kind of guy) that I even woke up early, which is a rarity for me. We took a short taxi ride arranged by the hotel into the park where we stopped at the visitor center and and arranged a tour that was mandatory if you wanted to go to the Turtle Conservation Center and the Endangered Primate Rescue Center. The EPRC was by far my favorite place in the park, run by German biologists and home to many species of Langur and Gibbon rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. Here they protect and breed the primates to then be released into the wild in a protected area in the park. I love primates, and seeing rescued primates healthy and jumping around warmed my heart. We then went to the Turtle Conservation Center, also housing rescued animals, this time turtles.
After the tour, we went on an amazing two hour long hike through dense forest to the thousand-year-old tree in the park. The tree was huge, and very cool, but the hike was even more fascinating. Every second of the hike I saw something different, whether it be a be a huge butterfly, an intricate tree, or a hovering bug that looked like a mini-UFO. I had the time of my life with my new camera, running here and there trying to get pictures of butterflies, birds, and insects. For a while, I put the camera down, slowded my pace, and just took in the beautiful forest. I could have spent many hours in there by myself. Unfortunately that was all we had time to do, as we were all getting tired, especially my grandmother who was sweating profusely. As I read the park's brochure from cover to cover on the way back to the resort, I knew I wanted to go back to the park in the future. There are many different treks of varying duration you can take through the park, even camping for a few days. There are also cheap rooms with AC and warm water for around 15 dollars. I know I will go back to Cuc Phuong National Park the next time I am even remotely close to Vietnam.
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