PHONG NHA: VIETNAM’S STUNNING NATIONAL PARK
Phong Nha is the adventure capital you’ve probably never heard of. So why haven’t you heard of it? Because much of this potential is yet to be realized. The exception, of course, is the area’s wide assortment of prehistoric caves, many of which have been surveyed and are now open to visitors, including the world’s largest cave, Son Doong, uncovered in 2009. As Mr. Howard Lim, a member of the British Cave Research Association, has been quoted to say, “I’ve caved all over the world and been here for 28 years. These are easily the best caves in the world. Just incredible.”
Over the last decade, a multifaceted sustainable tourism model has grown throughout Phong Nha, turning the region from impoverished to an epicenter of adventure and eco-tourism initiatives that actually benefit the locals instead of foreign companies and conglomerates.
Aside from the main draw of the caves, Phong Nha is filled with other activities to indulge in such as jungle trekking, rock climbing, river kayaking, and off-road cycling. Whether you’re a group of friends looking for a new experience, part of an active couple, or a family with older children and teenagers, we’ve got a wide assortment of tailor-made Phong Nha packages to fuel your adventurous side. Keep reading to find the perfect fit!
The area of Phong Nha is chockfull of impressive caves to suit any type of level. Some, like Paradise Cave, are great for those with children of any age, as it’s just a quick 20-minute walk into the jungles of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park. For slightly more adventurous families, a trip underground to river caves like Nuoc Not and Hang Va will have you swimming and traversing by rope and harness like a pro in no time.
Then there are the wow factors, like Son Doong, Hang En, and Tu Lan Cave System. Located deep within the wild jungles of central Vietnam, Son Doong and Hang En are the 1st and 3rd largest caves in the world, respectively. The volume of Son Doong, for example, is greater than that of Egypt’s Great Pyramid, while Hang En houses beaches (yes! Beaches inside a cave!) and hundreds of swallows. And then you have the Tu Lan cave system in To Mo Valley, a system of over 20 caves to swim, crawl, and slide through.
Still not convinced? Check out this virtual tour of Son Doong Cave from our friends at National Geographic to get your first taste of the colossal wonders of the region.
Afraid of tight spaces, don’t like hard-core trekking, have young children, or maybe not interested in sleeping overnight in a cave? Don’t let that stop you from exploring all the wonders of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park encompasses an astounding area of more than 85,000 hectares comprised of jungles, rivers, the world’s largest caves, and remote ethnic minority villages.
Locals in the area are keen to keep it protected, resulting in a plethora of eco-tours and community homestays, including this account published on the Guardian in 2016.
If this is something that interests you, have a look at our Phong Nha Sampler, an itinerary focused on the other engaging aspects of Phong Nha tours, from endangered animal rescue centers to rural life in quaint riverside villages and relaxing sunset river cruises.
Phong Nha may be far from the sea, but there’s still water everywhere you look. Typhoons batter the destination each year between September and December and a week without any rain at all is a very rare occurrence. This has created a landscape where rivers, streams, and lakes are found across the province, which not only feed the fields but also set the scene for watery adventures.
Phong Nha boat tours are a great way to pass the time, whether you’re learning about local ways of life and craft-making on day cruises, sampling delicious local delicacies on a romantic sunset cruise, or exploring Phong Nha Cave which is only accessible by boat.
Those who prefer more action can grab a kayak and paddle down isolated streams with a turquoise hue like this one in our Tombs and Caves Family Adventure, which combines the majestic historical sites of Hue with all the outdoorsy goodness of Phong Nha.
The wonderful countryside of Phong Nha is just waiting to be discovered, and one of the best ways to do that is by bicycle. All you need is a clear day to follow the dirt paths between villages, admiring the picture-perfect landscape complete with a beaming sun that makes the rice terraces, jungles, and rivers pop with color.
Feel like getting muddy? Take a mountain bike or e-bike and crisscross the rivers and jungles – going boldly where not many have gone before.
Our Central Vietnam Bucketlist includes a day of cycling through idyllic villages along the perimeter of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park as well as a day out and about on two wheels through the most famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Hue.
Don’t forget your hiking boots when traveling to Phong Nha! Most caving and camping experiences involve some degree of hiking, like this expedition to Hang Tien (the fairy’s caves), found 70km north of Phong Nha. The jungle is as lush as it is wild, and makes for an extraordinary day of intrepid exploration before reaching the camp site.
Some camp sites are found deep within valleys next to jungle streams or within a cave depending on the tour you pick! Don’t worry – you’ll be provided for with cozy tents and delicious food cooked by your porters and guides.
For those hardcore adventure enthusiasts, check out our Legendary Vietnam 11-day itinerary, which includes hiking, kayaking, camping, caving, and meeting ethnic minorities through our favorite spots in Vietnam – Hanoi, Sapa, Bai Tu Long Bay, and Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park.
Dive deep into Vietnam’s magnificent landscapes and warm culture with these destination-focused itineraries designed to take you further into the country. Or mix and match to create the adventure of a lifetime.
Our Phong Nha Tours
11 days | Active From 30,440,000 VND
Work up a sweat in central Vietnam with this eclectic 11-day itinerary through the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of ancient Hue, charming Hoi An, and remote Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park. This package includes a night in the jungle before trekking to the fairy’s caves, Hang Tien, known as the biggest caves in the Tu Lan Cave System.
11 days | Active From 34,460,000 VND
Get set for the adventure of a lifetime with this action-packed 10-day itinerary through the most legendary landscapes of northern and central Vietnam. Engage with four distinct ethnic minority groups in northern Vietnam, all while staying at the acclaimed Topas Riverside Lodge and Topas Ecolodge before sailing through the serene waters of Bai Tu Long Bay. Then, end your trip with a life-changing overnight trek to Hang En, the world’s third largest cave, which includes a campsite within the cave on your very own private beach in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park.
10 days | Active From 22,300,000 VND
Get acquainted with the Vietnam few travelers get to experience on this action-packed 10-day journey through bustling Hanoi, charming Ninh Binh, and dreamy Lan Ha Bay. Then, set off on the road less traveled in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park and fill your days with kayaking, cycling, hiking, and “spelunking” through Paradise and Nuoc Not Caves.
8 days | Active From 23,850,000 VND
5 days | Family From 11,500,000 VND
Afraid of tight spaces, don’t like hard-core trekking, or maybe not interested in sleeping in a cave? Don’t worry! This 5-day Phong Nha itinerary focuses on the other incredible aspects of the region, from endangered animals to rural life in quaint, riverside villages. And for good measure, we added Paradise Cave to the plan, the most accessible cave to explore in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park.
4 days | Active From 12,400,000 VND
This true underground adventure includes two spectacular river caves in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park— Nuoc Not and Hang Va. Swim through underground pools and use harnesses and ropes to enter certain sections for a real-life Indiana Jones experience!
5 days | Active From 13,030,000 VND
This exciting journey has some challenging sections, but it’s totally worth it! Swim through river caves and admire rare cave coral and dry caves covered in intricate calcite formations. With a mixture of lush jungles, mysterious caves, and stunning campsites, you’ll experience a whole new world just below Vietnam’s surface in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park.
4 days | Active From 11,900,000 VND
Get set for the adventure of a lifetime with this 4-day adventure to the third largest cave in the entire world, Hang En. Trek through the jungles of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park to the hidden ethnic minority village of Ban Doong, getting to know the culture, before continuing on to the gorgeous Hang En River Valley. Spend the night inside Hang En’s cavern on a natural beach beside a river, and climb to the extraordinary exit for a jaw-dropping view!
4 days | Active From 10,700,000 VND
Explore Tu Lan Cave System, one of the biggest caves in the world, located just north of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park. A highlight of this excursion is spending a night in the jungle before trekking through the fairy’s caves, Hang Tien 1 and 2.
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