Phong Nha National Park boasts some of the most remarkable views in the entire world.
From meandering roads,
It’s a wonder how something so beautiful is unknown to most travelers.
The adventurous can spend the day exploring Dark Cave. They ride Vietnam’s longest zip line,
Splash around in a buoyant mud puddle,
And kayak in turquoise blue water.
Travelers can hike to Paradise Cave,
Where the silence inside will wrap around them like the warmth of a summer afternoon,
And make them appreciate the power and complexity of nature.
Travelers can rent motorbikes,
And drive the Phong Nha National Park 65 kilometer loop on only three liters of fuel,
While euphoria settles in,
And they stare in awe at the beauty that surrounds them.
But in a few years time, this simplicity will be gone.
Hotels that tower over the surrounding cliffs, threatening them with their height,
Are starting to appear overnight.
Phong Nha’s secret will be exposed
As tours, hotels, and restaurants catered to tourists start to pop up like a jack in the box.
Only one year ago, the small road in Phong Nha was merely a dirt road
And nothing more.
This undiscovered secret will soon be lost,
As the progression of tourism takes precedence over nature.
How to Get Here
Buses run from Hanoi and Hue. I took the bus from hue, which cost me 150,000 VND.
There is also an airport and train station nearby in Dong Hoi.
Where to Stay
This is the backpacker hub in Phong Nha. For $8 a night, you get an air conditioned dorm room and access to the pool and bar.
What to Do
Going to Dark Cave was one of my favorite days in Vietnam. If you’re an adventurer, then spending the day here will be perfect! First, you zip line on Vietnam’s longest zip line. Then you swim into a cave and spend some time inside the cave floating in a huge mud puddle, you will not sink, it keeps you afloat! Then you kayak to an obstacle course and can spend a few hours swimming and swinging on a smaller zip line. This tour costs 450,000 dong.
Phong Nha Cave
This cave is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You have to take a boat into this cave, which costs 400,000 dong but can fit up to ten people. The boat takes you 1.5 km into the cave, which is over 44 km long!
For 250,000 dong, visitors hike up to this cave and explore its massive complexity as they walk through. At one point, it was completely silent inside this cave except for the water dripping down the moist cave walls.
Drive the 65 km Loop
This was one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever done in my life. It takes a couple hours to do the entire loop through this national park, which is free to enter. Drive slowly and carefully while taking in the phenomenal views.
This is the largest cave in the entire world. Travelers must book their excursion many months in advanced to guarantee a spot on one of their trips. While the cost of the trip is quite pricey, it’s worth every penny. Travelers will hike through the jungle and camp overnight inside the cave.
Make sure you bring cash to Phong Nha. I only saw two ATMs while I was there, and neither of them were working. Easy Tiger Hostel also lets you take out one million VND for a 30,000 dong fee.