Phong Nha: Between caves and huge karst
January 21, 2016
Phong Nha National Park is located at Son Trach Village, 50 km north of Dong Hoi.
The first thing to know about Phong Nha National Park is that its collection of stunning caves, towering stalagmites and amazing karst mountains represent one the most beautiful landscape in Vietnam and in whole Asia. This is my opinion after having been there a couple of days.
I started my day renting a scooter, I found the roads a little bit not-organised for driving. My first stop was a cave called Paradise cave, about 25 km far from Son Trach Village. It was exiting to see a cave discovered just 10 years ago, on the 2005.I arrived to the cave very early to beat the crowd, the entrance fee costed me 10$ AUD.
I only started to realise the huge size of the cave after walking down the first flight of stairs. It was simply stunning and it got even more impressive when I reached the bottom of the cathedral and walked into the next ‘room’, and the next….. Colossal stalagmites and white crystal stalactites were the highlights in this cave and I felt so lucky to be alone into the cave.
Phong Nha National Park is full of caves, one of those is Hang Soon, the world’s largest cave discovered in 2009. The only way to visit it is by a 7-days exploration at the price of 3000 $US. I undoubtedly skipped this cave. I rode around the National Park discovering green hills, small rivers, looking at Vietnamese people working their own green land.There was something that impressed me in the scenery: dozens of huge karst limestone over 1,000 m high. It was incredible when a local person told me that unknown cave networks are being discovered each year. The park is the centre of the last big tropical forest in Vietnam, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It contains the oldest karst mountains in Asia, and hundreds of cave systems indeed.
Seeing such a massive cave system had always been on my bucket list and I felt very satisfied.
How to get there, best time and cost
Many options exist to travel to and from Phong Nha National park via bus. I arrived here after Tam Coc with a night bus, it took about 7 hrs for 12$ AUD. In Vietnam is cheap to go around, sometimes you can spend just few Dollars to rent a bike/scooter and discover a location in 1 day. This destination is a perfect example. I rented a Scooter, 10$ AUD full day, and even if the road signs were lacking I went around the park with a map and a sense of adventure. The best time to visit the area is from April to May, I went to Phong Nha National Park in February and the weather wasn’t very good. Keep reading my full experience in Southeast Asia
- Just to remind you, Phong Nha region is changing fast, with more and more accommodation options opening. Son Trach Village is the main centre but it’s a tiny place with poor transport connection and just one ATM, not always works.
- Jungle Bar is a great source of travel information.
- Well, my personal tip is to explore part of Phong Nha National park by yourself. Rent a scooter, be explorer with a sense of adventure, will be a funny and amazing experience.
- My last tip: Don’t get stuck with the thing that ruins your day, life is too short to be wasted in your crap. Smile and be positive because there are so many beautiful reasons to be happy, one of those is travelling.
Author of this post: Davide
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love your photos! Especially of the caves! There are some like that in the US and they’re some of the most beautiful things!!!
Thabks for your comment!! Safe travel
Those caves are amazing. I’ve been once in a cave very similar and is an experience like no other. Your post is very informative and useful.
thank you maria, if you need any other information just contact me 😀
Such an informative post. Beautiful pictures. Vietnam is on our bucket list. Probably we will visit this year.
Thanks, yeah Vietnam is stunning and great to add it on your bucket list!!
Phong Nha National Park looks beautiful. I especially love that it has caves! I love exploring caves all over the world. I will be sure to add this to our list when we make it to Vietnam.
Thank you for commenting it 😀
Wow!! I’m in awe! The caves are simply breathtaking. Congratulations on ticking one item off your bucket list 🙂 I might just add this to mine as well 🙂
I love the caves and I love the stunning landscape around it! Thanks for commenting 😀
3000 US $ seems to be quite expensive for an expedition. The price must be so high so that they can limit the number of visitors and protect the caves from damage. But Paradise caves look ideal too.
Exactly, this cave is discovered few years ago and for this reasons you can get in just in a tour for 7 days! Thanks for your comment here, keep following us around the world
I bought a motorbike and travelled around Vietnam (mainly the southern half) but due to time, I didn’t manage to visit the northern half… I was recommended to visit Phong Nha on the way to Hanoi but couldn’t find enough information (this was 5 years ago).
Really had wished I had come across something like this before! Looks like I need to head back to Vietnam to complete my motorbike journey and check out Phong Nha… Great photos though – and that lake has such rich colour!
Well, you had a wonderful experience and what you have done was something I would really like to do!! I don’t think to go back there because my bucket list is full of other destinations!! 😀 thanks for your comment, I appreciate
You guys sure got some great reflection photography at Phong Nha National Park. The caves are huge but I agree the $3000 is a little steep for 7 days, you could travel around the whole of South East Asia for that price. Great info on how to get there and how much, thanks for sharing.
Thank you so much for your comment and keep following us around the world!!
Having returned from Vietnam recently I was really interested in reading about your experience. I would love to visit this area next time as the cave adventure looks so unique and fun. The photos are awesome but your story is good too. Great tips for budgeting as well.
If you need anything else just contact me in private, I have more information about this beautiful area! Thank you so much for your comment!
Stunning pics! I’m heading to southeast Asia next month but I left Vietnam out because there’s really so much to see and I just didn’t have enough time. Hope to visit soon
Yeah there too much to see! Wonderful locations, historical cities, stunning landscapes around!! It deserves a big visit, maybe renting a scooter!! 😀 thanks for sharing it
Did you have to join a tour when you went in the cave? In Australia, they don’t let you wander in alone. Hiring a scooter and going exploring with a map sounds like a very adventurous thing to do! I would love to go to Vietnam some time soon!
Yeah I have been to Australia too but Vietnam is not Australia 😀 You don’t need to join a tour to enter in; put it on your bucket list, it deserves a visit! thanks
Vietnam has so much to offer and we eagerly want to visit it very soon. Last year we were planning to do so but we ended up picking Cambodia instead. These caves look amazing and your comments are really helpful, especially cost-wise. Phong Nha should be in our list for 2017!
Thank you so much for this comment, wonderful location and you are right to insert it on your bucket list!! 😀 thank you so much for this comment