Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam
A few hours south of Hanoi, not far from the storied Ho Chi Minh Highway, lies the vast expanse of Cuc Phuong National Park. One of the country’s most accessible parks, Cuc Phuong is thoughtfully developed, if a little outdated. A journey down its smooth, winding road lined with giant trees is a journey into the wilderness that defines much of Vietnam.
Visitors come here for the chance to spot wildlife, but you’ll likely need the help of a guide to find illusive civets, langurs, and black bears. The clouded leopard is an even rarer sight. For guaranteed wildlife interactions, stop by the Endangered Primate Rehabilitation Centre and the Turtle Conservation Centre near the entrance to the park.
The best way to explore the park itself is on a bike. Many visitors also explore the park on motorbikes. It’s hard to get lost on a bike ride — there’s only one straight and narrow road through the park. At the entrance, the park rangers will provide you with a detailed map and can direct you to bike rentals. If you wish to stay overnight in the park’s very simple rooms, you can arrange it here.
One of the first points of interest is the Cave of the Prehistoric Man where ancient human remains were found. For hiking, there is a lovely 3.7-mile (6-km) forest loop from the park center to the “thousand-year-old tree.” The tree is quite impressive, but it’s the forest itself and the sounds of the animals that is really special.