Lost in Cuc Phuong forest in the season of white butterflies - as beautiful as a scene from a fairy tale
About 120km from Hanoi, Cuc Phuong National Park in Ninh Binh is a rich forest ecosystem with a multitude of animals and plants. If you visit Cuc Phuong in the butterfly season, you can admire a “once-in-a-lifetime” scene of millions of colourful butterflies as fanciful as one from a fairy tale.
The ideal time to visit Cuc Phuong forest
Cuc Phuong National Park is a nature reserve and special-use forest in three provinces of Ninh Binh, Hoa Binh and Thanh Hoa, with a total area of 22,408 ha. It was established on July 7, 1962.
The gate to Cuc Phuong National Park. Photo: ninhbinh.gov
If you want to admire Cuc Phuong forest in the butterfly season, you should come here around April and May. Ninh Binh weather at this time is sunny and dry with gentle wind, which is quite convenient for exploring and sightseeing.
Lost in Cuc Phuong forest. Photo: yeudulich.com
Places not to be missed when visiting Cuc Phuong forest in Ninh Binh
Cuc Phuong Forest
Along the road into the forest, right from the two sides of the trail, beside the tall green trees, you will be immediately surprised by the butterflies. Moving about 7m of the trail into the Cuc Phuong forest in Ninh Binh, you will be overwhelmed by the scenery of the primeval forest full of butterflies flying as one in a fairy tale.
Cuc Phuong forest in butterfly season. Photo: tintucninhbinh.com
This place has more than 400 species of butterflies with the number of individuals being up to millions. The butterflies in Cuc Phuong forest are mainly white types of attacus atlas and oregon swallowtail. You should visit the forest on mild sunny days after it rains. Warm sunny weather will stimulate butterflies to fly out under warm sunlight, which creates a romantic space. It is advised that you come here on weekdays as the forest is often crowded with tourists at weekends, making it difficult for butterflies to gather in groups.
Groups of butterflies perched on the white ground. Photo: wecheckin.vn
In addition to admiring the scenery of butterflies, you can also see fireflies when coming to Cuc Phuong forest in the evening. The warmer and drier the weather is, the more fireflies appear. Notably, the road from the Central area to the edge of Mac Lake has many fireflies on both sides. Just a few movements can make fireflies “light up” the entire space.
The scenery is as beautiful as one from a fairy tale. Photo: vntrip
Butterfly season in Cuc Phuong forest attracts many tourists. Photo: zing.vn
The thousand-year-old tree
Cuc Phuong National Park has a rich flora and fauna with tropical rainforest characteristics. There is a giant tree, which is a thousand-year-old Dipterocarpus Retusus tree. This is the oldest tree in this national forest and is also one of the rare old trees in Vietnam today.
The thousand-year-old tree in Cuc Phuong National Park. Photo: Travelgear
The tree has two main trunks with a height of nearly 50m and a diameter of 5m. It needs at least 20 adults with their arm length full to embrace completely the whole tree trunk. The tree is located in the middle of Cuc Phuong forest, and you have to go nearly 3km on the forest trail to reach it. Standing under the thousand-year-old tree, you will feel its massiveness and vitality over time. This is definitely one of the spots that should not be missed when you visit Cuc Phuong National Park.
Cuc Phuong's Endangered Primate Rescue Center
In addition to visiting the primeval forest and admiring the giant tree, do not forget to visit the Cuc Phuong's Endangered Primate Rescue Center. There are over 150 individuals of 15 species and subspecies that grow well, of which six primate species are cared for conservation purposes such as: Indochinese black langur, Ha Tinh langur, Lao langur, white-ass langur, Cat Ba langur, and gray-shanked langur.
Red-shanked langur. Photo: khampha
“Hunting” clouds on the peak of May Bac mountain
Cuc Phuong not only has a primeval forest, but it also has the May Bac (Silver Cloud) mountain, which is the highest point of Ninh Binh with a height of 640m above sea level and year-round white clouds. On the peak of May Bac, you can see the majestic space of the pristine forest. The elder of the Muong village (living near Cuc Phuong) once said: “Climbing to the peak of May Bac is like climbing to the gate of heaven”. From there, you can see the entire Hoa Lu stone capital. If you are here in the early morning, you can enjoy the interesting feeling of touching the clouds.
May Bac is cloudy all year round. Photo: metrip.vn
Other activities at Cuc Phuong forest
You can camp in Bong hamlet, which is about 20km from the forest gate. This is also the last destination in the Cuc Phuong forest route. It is important to note that you should choose the flat ground to set up your tent. There are also available cement holes so that your camping will be easier and more convenient. While camping during the day is free of charge, if you choose to camp overnight at Cuc Phuong forest in Ninh Binh, you will have to pay some money to stay there.
Cuc Phuong forest has a separate land for camping. Photo: foody.vn
Visiting the primeval forest
The primeval forest at Cuc Phuong will surprise you with its majesty, diversity and abundance. Cuc Phuong has 2,234 species of higher plants and mosses, including 433 species of medicinal plants, 229 species of edible plants, and many species recorded in the Red Book of Vietnam.
Cuc Phuong forest has a rich flora and fauna. Photo: yeudulich.com
In terms of animals, there are 66 species of fish, 122 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 135 species of mammals (including the white-ass langur - a very beautiful and rare primate chosen as the symbol of Cuc Phuong National Park). There are also 336 bird species, many of which are endemic to Vietnam and Indochina.
Cuc Phuong forest has 135 species of mammals. Photo: hoidulich.net
A few tips when visiting Cuc Phuong forest in butterfly season
- When you go sightseeing, remember to apply insect repellent, especially for families with children.
- Travel on dry and sunny days to avoid other insects.
- The temperature in Cuc Phuong forest in Ninh Binh is usually low at both night and early in the morning. If you stay overnight here, please remember to bring a warm jacket.
- If you do not want to buy food at the service counter, you can prepare your own food.
How to move to Cuc Phuong forest in Ninh Binh
Moving to Cuc Phuong forest in Ninh Binh is quite convenient as you can choose motorbikes or coaches. Among these, motorbikes become the “companions” of adventure enthusiasts along the roads to Cuc Phuong. There are many beautiful and attractive destinations that you can stop by when traveling by this kind of transport.
By motorbike: From Hanoi, follow the direction of Phap Van to National Highway 1A - Gian Khau junction (Gia Vien district) - National Highway 12. Drive about 30km and you will be at Cuc Phuong forest in Ninh Binh.
By coach: From Giap Bat station, you can choose a coach with the direction of Nho Quan - Me. In Me town, you can rent a motorbike taxi or take a bus. Move about 10km and you will see Cuc Phuong National Park.
Entrance fee: VND 60,000/adult.
Cuc Phuong National Forest not only attracts visitors thanks to the white butterfly season as beautiful as a fairy tale, but it is also a place for visitors to discover the unspoiled nature as well as the diversity of rare flora and fauna in Vietnam.
Ninh Binh Department of Tourism