Having explored 50 countries, Becky’s one of the keenest travellers we know! Her adventures in Vietnam included a thrilling trip to the caves of Phong Nha National Park.
Phong Nha National Park
Nestled near the Laos border lies a cave so large you could fly a commercial plane through it!
Unfortunately you do have to pay around $3,000 to visit Son Doong cave. But for the rest of us there are a number of, less expensive, but no less spectacular caves to explore. They are all located within the Jurassic Park-esque Phong Nha National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and many have only been discovered in the past two decades.
The most popular, with good reason, is Paradise Cave. This cave has some beautiful formations of stalagmites and stalactites, all of varying shapes and sizes. It actually extends to about 31km but only a small portion of this is accessible to the public. Inside, there are wooden structures within the cave to walk on that prevent erosion of the formations, and stop overzealous explorers from wandering off!
Caves for kids!
There are plenty of activities for kids here too – Dark Cave is heaps of fun! You can kayak up to the entrance where you are taken through the cave in your swimming gear. It starts to get muddier and muddier…
Eventually you arrive into narrow walkways filled with thick mud that you can wade through and eventually float atop! Once you get out again you can rinse off in the river and take the zip line into the middle where you plop back in. If you’re a bit acrobatic, try some flips!
Other activities in Phong Nha National Park
There are numerous different activities in the area too. I did a jungle hike to the back entrance of Dark Cave where we swam right into the cave and turned all our lights off…! When the quietness envelops you it’s a challenge to keep it off…who will crack first?!
Once we swam back out, the porters had cooked us a lovely lunch of pork and rice in banana leaves over a fire. Various visits to local tribes are possible too, where you can see their traditional way of life and peek into their history.
Wildlife in Phong Nha National Park
There is plenty of wildlife around – the park is home to the King Cobra, the Asian Black Bear and the Sun Bear! All are shy and rarely seen though, I promise.
If a wildlife tour is something you’re looking for, you will have more luck finding the various species of primates, birds, butterflies and bats on an eco-tour in the park. Alternatively you can leisurely cruise in a kayak down the various peaceful rivers.
Thoughts on Phong Nha
Phong Nha National Park lived up to all my expectations; the landscape, beautiful and accessible cave network and the chilled-out vibe after the hustle of the major cities make this a fantastic destination to include in your Vietnamese adventure.
Feeling adventurous? Explore some of the best known highlights of Vietnam on our Vietnam Adventure, before off-roading it to go biking, hiking and swimming.
Travelling with teenagers or children? Family Caving & Culture is an exciting and unforgettable trip for young ‘uns with hands-on activities and plenty of adventure.
– Both trips include a trip to UNESCO world heritage site, Phong Nha National Park. Don’t forget your swimmers!