• Phong Nha

    On the Song Con river in Phong Nha. Photo by Christian Berg

Not long ago the sleepy village of Phong Nha barely got a mention in guidebooks, but the surprise discovery of one of the world's largest caves has catapulted it into the adventure tourism spotlight. The Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park is a rugged swathe of limestone mountains riddled with gigantic caves. It's also home to endangered wildlife and ethnic minority groups. The gateway to this land of adventure is Phong Nha, a welcoming village on the banks of the graceful Son River.

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TOP THINGS TO DO IN PHONG NHA:

See the Big One

Hang Sơn Đoòng is by some criteria, the largest cave in the world. It’s big enough to accommodate skyscrapers and has its jungle ecosystem. No wonder then that the multi-day tours to Hang Sơn Đoòng have sold out every year since they began in 2013. To explore this mammoth wonder, you’ll need US$3,000 and six days, but for those with less time and funds, there is plenty more subterranean exploring in Phong Nha.

Join a cave expedition 

Entering the magical world of the Tú Làn cave system on a two-day trip means swimming through river caves and camping on the edge of waterfall-filled lagoons, while the beady eyes of flying squirrels peer inquisitively down from the treetops. At Hang Nuớc Nứt, you can camp at the base of a limestone cliff, then enter the surreal world of Hang Va. Hang Én features a magnificent, colossal main chamber with shimmering turquoise pools, while the cathedral-like chambers of Paradise Cave allow day-visitors the chance to marvel at thousand-year-old beauty.

Go in search of wildlife 

Phong Nha's jungles are home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna. The ultimate way to discover this is on Hai’s Eco Conservation Tour. Mr.Hai, a young and enthusiastic conservationist, will bring you to the Wildlife Rescue Centre to see rescued macaques, langurs, porcupines, and more. While trekking to the Thác Gió Falls, you may spot macaques in their natural habitat.

Eat outdoors

Hire a bike and pedal out to the Bong Lai village in search of the Pub With Cold Beer for one of the country’s best foodie experiences. Here, only one item is on the menu: sublime grilled chicken served with unbeatable homemade peanut sauce. After lunch, ride a little further and reward yourself with a cold drink and views across the Cưỡng river valley at the impossibly pretty lookout of the Wild Boar Eco Farm.

Cycle the Eco-Trail

Non Mooc Eco Trail remains serene, its cool, rushing turquoise water inviting you to cool down when the mercury rises. It’s possible to cycle out here via farmland and cross the original Ho Chi Minh Trail on a tour with Phong Nha Adventure Cycling. Alternatively, hire a bike and make your adventure.

Phong Nha Itineraries

24 hours

With just 24 hours in Phong Nha, head to the Paradise Cave to witness the majesty of the underground world. Add on a trip to the Non Mooc Eco Trail in the afternoon.

48 hours

Add a second day of exploring along the Bong Lai Loop by bicycle, or take a walk through the jungle with Hai’s Eco Conservation Tour. For the full caving experience, opt for the two-day trips that will take you into Hang Va, Tú Làn or Hang Én.

Phong Nha Weather

Rains close some of the caves from November to January. April to June are fantastic months for the peanut harvest and swarms of butterflies while July to September the temperature can be very warm.

Transport to Phong Nha

Trains arrive at nearby Đồng Hới train station from both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Direct flights from both cities are also available. The easiest way to transfer from the airport in Đồng Hới to Phong Nha is by local metered taxi.