The Cave of the Prehistoric Man is just a roadside attraction, a short hike off the main drag up a hillside with a wide cave. The cave was discovered in 1966, and the remains of an early man along with his stone tools and relics are said to date back as far as 12,000 years ago. The walkway to the site is a good place to sit still and see what kinds of wild things you can spot.
The Cave of the Prehistoric Man
Cuc Phuong is a good day trip from Hanoi, and some tourist cafes offer programs for as little as $30 (if you have four people in your group); but a day trip means arriving in the middle of the day, when jungle animals are fast asleep and when the heat and humidity, especially in the spring hot season, can be too much. It is also possible to overnight in the park headquarters or at the visitor information center. They offer basic rooms in a block building at the entrance. Doubles go for $15 to $25.
One of the most pleasant aspects of visiting Cuc Phuong is the possibility of connecting with visiting naturalists and scientists (when I was there, I met a large contingent from the Philippines), and the overnight accommodations, though rustic, make for a fun evening — especially with a gaggle of scientists in the canteen. There’s a lake just inside the park, which is set up like a small summer camp for large groups, usually Vietnamese school kids, and the site echoes with good Vietnamese campfire songs.
The tourist coming here
Foreigners comprise only a small percentage of the 70,000 people or so who visit the park annually, and the large groups of Vietnamese tourists — and many school groups — are not yet well versed in eco-tourism practices. (I kept coming across a group of more than 50 school kids, all dressed in the same bright yellow T-shirts and wearing oversize straw hats, led by a guide with a bullhorn blaring instructions and information — so much for animal spotting.) Talk to guides about good night-spotting trips and rigorous overnights in the jungle.