Phong Nha

Phong Nha is fast becoming well known as one of the most beautiful areas of Vietnam. The Phong Nha Farmstay in 8km south of Phong Nha, deep in the Vietnamese countryside overlooking rice paddies, and is situated to easily explore the area.

The area is new to tourism, so there isn’t much choice of eateries, shops or transport. It is expanding however month by month. Coming to Phong Nha really does provide a chance to get out in the real Vietnam on a bicycle or walking and soak it up.Phong Nha


Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, located in 400 million year old karst mountain country, is home to some of the world’s largest and most impressive caves. The area received World Heritage Listing in 2003.


Three caves, Phong Nha, Tien Son and Thien Duong (Paradise Cave) are easily accessed and are by far the most popular of around 300 so far discovered in the park. Some have proclaimed Paradise Cave, discovered in 2005, to be the most beautiful in the world.

 

Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park raised further interest in the caving community when in 2009, a British surveying team concluded Son Doong Cave, discovered in 1991, it to be the world’s largest cave. Son Doong is not accessible to travellers.


Adventurers may wish to explore some of the more remote caves or combine cave exploration with some trekking through landscapes that are visible throughout northern Vietnam and not unfamiliar to those who have travelled to Ninh Binh, Mai Chau and Son La. As this is National Park however, there tends to be less farming and more forest cover.

Phong Nha – Ke Bang is within easy reach of the DMZ and can be an end point to a DMZ journey starting in Dong Ha (the journey from Hue is probably a little too long if the DMZ is properly explored enroute).

The beauty of Phong Nha cave has been celebrated in Vietnam since dynastic times and some caves show evidence of an earlier Cham presence. Prior to World War II, French travellers to the Indochina colonies began to take an interest in the caves.

During the Vietnam War, the area was part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail and was heavily bombed.

Since the 1990s a series of exploratory missions by British and Vietnamese teams have surveyed known caves and uncovered new ones. The discovery of Paradise Cave in 2005 and its opening to travellers in 2010 has renewed interest in the area.

Only small numbers of travellers choose to stay nearby Phong Nha caves at Son Trach town (most travel 50 plus kilometres in from Dong Hoi). It’s a picturesque setting but hotels and facilities are limited and the locals already have a well earned reputation for price gouging foreign visitors. Bicycle hire and motorcycle hire can be 6 – 8 times more expensive than elsewhere in Vietnam – and the endless and often futile negotiations can be a drag taking some of the edge off the region’s unique beauty.

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