Tu Lan Expedition

Our Tu Lan Expedition is led by a Vietnamese – English speaking skilled adventure guide, along with a porter team and cooks made up of local men with many years of jungle experience.

This skills-based caving adventure provides a highly informative insight into this unique caving region, home to the most spectacular caves and jungle of Vietnam!

On this tough jungle and cave trek there is plenty to keep your heart racing with some dark cave exploring, climbing and a lot of swimming through the caves. Our secluded jungle campsites are spectacular and mostly different from those visited on our shorter treks in the same region. Extra lighting will be brought in to provide many chances for epic photography.

Within 4 days and 3 nights in the wild and a night in cozy comfort at Chay Lap Farmstay, our Tu Lan Expedition will take you to almost all of the explored caves and jungle in Tu Lan area and give you a dose of indulgence at our rural retreat. It will certainly be a once-in-a-lifetime experience in the Cave Kingdom of Vietnam.

Videos about this tour: link 1 | link 2 | link 3 | link 4 | link 5link 6

Tu Lan Cave System on the news: Theglobeandmail | Nomadasaurus | Wanderrlust | Bold Travel | 

Reviews on TripAdvisor: SR 1SR 2SR 3 | SR 4 | SR5

 

Download Itinerary (PDF)

Itinerary

Download Itinerary (PDF)

Quick Facts

  • Operating: from Feb to Aug (closed from Sep to Jan)

  • Duration: 4 Days / 3 Nights on tour & 1 night in luxurious contryside resort

  • Adventure Level: Moderate-to-hard for physically active guests (swimming necessary)

  • Availability: Weekly, every Thursday & Sunday

  • Small Group Tours: 2 - 8 pax (minimum of 2 pax)

  • Minimum Age: 16 years old

  • Tour Starts: 7:30 am - 8:00 am from any local hotel in Phong Nha

  • Tour Ends: 6:00 pm at Chay Lap Farmstay

  • Price: VND 15,000,000/pax

Phong Nha - Tan Hoa - Secret Cave - Hung Ton Cave - Tu Lan Campsite - Hang Ken

The expedition takes off with a pickup from any local hotel at Phong Nha at 7:30 – 8:00 am and a transfer to Tan Hoa village. You’ll attend the safety briefing, check on gears, equipment & sign the Release Form at Tu Lan office prior to trekking. At 10:00 am, the trek gets underway with a hike across peanut and buffalo fields (2.5 km) to the Rao Nan River.

After crossing the river, the group will go through the first cave of this expedition called Secret Cave at 11 am. The journey within Secret Cave then proceeds forward with a trek to Hung Ton Cave entrance. The journey within Secret Cave and the following trek to Hung Ton will take from about 11:30 am – 12:00 pm. At the entrance of Hung Ton you will take a break and enjoy lunch until about 1:00 pm.

From Hung Ton, trek through the jungle to Tu Lan Campsite. At camp, you’ll get settled and have time to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee before swimming into Ken Cave to the photo viewpoint where a famous picture of this cave was taken. There will be more time for swimming afterwards at the small waterfall by camp, while our porter team prepares a delicious dinner.

MORE PHOTO

Tu Lan - Hang Kim - To Mo - Hung Ton - La Ken - Hung Dung Campsite

Breakfast starts this adventurous day around 8:00 am. Then, the expedition group will see the namesake of the tour, Tu Lan Cave. Visit Tu Lan Dry Cave and abseil down (10 m) into the river passage of Tu Lan Wet Cave with the support of our guide team. You will either swim or boat out of the cave (exit mode depends on season/weather).

Hang Kim is next, and you’ll enter via the dry entrance, follow the dry passage to the underground river and swim through the cave to exit into picturesque To Mo Valley. We will have lunch here from about 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Then, we will swim into Ton Cave, explore the dry passage and climb up the ladder to exit the cave.

It takes a further 2.5 hours to trek to La Ken Valley and then you’ll reach the Hung Dung Campsite (around 5:30 pm) where everyone can enjoy swimming in the natural pools. In cooler weather, you can spend this extra time taking photos of the waterfall and drinking more cups of coffee or tea. Enjoy a fulfilling dinner at around 6:00 pm.

Hang Doi - Hung Nhai - Tien Valley - Tien Campsite

At 8:00 am, the day starts with breakfast ready when you wake up. Around 9:00 am, trek over the hill and through Hang Doi, known as Short Cave or sometimes Bat Cave. This will include a very short swim. When you exit the cave, you’ll see a beautiful waterfall and have time to stop and take some photos.

At 11:00 am, cross Hung Nhai Valley to the bottom of the hill. Lunch will take place from 12:00 – 1:00 pm near the river. The next few hours will be spent trekking up and over the hill into Tien Valley. After the hill, it’s about 30 more minutes to campsite which will be reached around 5:30 pm. Enjoy swimming in the gorgeous natural lagoon and soak up the surrounding beauty. Capture some excellent photos before getting distracted with a delicious dinner under the stars.

Hang Tien 1 - Hang Tien 2 - Tan Hoa - Chay Lap Farmstay

Have a big breakfast to gear up for this big, final day of the trek. Hike to the largest cave in Tu Lan Cave System, Hang Tien. Known as Fairy Cave, Hang Tien has two sections and you will explore both from about 9:30 am – 1:00 pm.

Hang Tien 1 lies beyond a field of boulders and the entrance is magnificent. Rimstone pools are stacked high and add to the magical feeling of this cave. Journey through Hang Tien 1 to its exit and then through Hang Tien 2 before making your way back.

Lunch will take place on the return through Hang Tien, at the exit of Hang Tien 1. Then the group will proceed back through Hang Tien 1. Trek over the hill to the road where you’ll be picked up and returned to the office around 4:00 – 4:30 pm.

At Tan Hoa office, you will have time to take a proper shower that you have been waiting for many days, have a cold drink, collect your luggage and be transferred to Chay Lap Farmstay. Check in at the hotel around 6:00 pm, and then enjoy a gala dinner with your expedition team around 7:30 pm. The night will be spent at Chay Lap.

Departure Day: Transfer to Dong Hoi

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel, take a swim in the pool at Chay Lap, or enjoy Chay Lap water sports center before leaving. Off-property excursions are available as well and can be booked directly through Chay Lap Farmstay. Please contact our adventure consultant to be served and inform your departure time to your tour guide the night before to arrange transfer service.  We wish you all the best in your onward travels!

Oxalis Adventure Levels

Nuoc Nut Cave

Most of people can do this cave as long they can walk on flat trails (partly rocky) for about 30-60 minutes each way.

Please chat with us or send us a message if you have any questions.

Tu Lan Cave Encounter

Please make sure that your health is suitable for these activities with ease.

  • 12km jungle and mountain trekking, rocky terrain
  • Elevation change up to 150m (between valley and top of mountain)
  • 1 km swimming in caves (from 200m - 500m each cave)
  • 3 km caving
  • 2 days and 1 night in jungle and caves
  • Requirements:
    • Basic trekking experience
    • Must be able to swim
      Note: Be prepared for your shoes to get very wet due to many river crossings!

Tu Lan 1-day Experience

Please make sure that your health is suitable for these activities with ease:

  • 9km jungle and mountain trekking, rocky terrain
  • Elevation change up to 150m (between valley and top of mountain)
  • 50m swimming in caves
  • 1 km caving
  • Requirements:
    • Basic trekking experience
    • Must be able to swim
      Note: Be prepared for your shoes to get very wet due to many river crossings!

Oxalis Adventure Tours staff (cave expert or guide) reserves the right to decline, accept or retain any person as a member of any party at any time without compensation or refund due to safety issue.

Please check Frequently Asked Questions or chat with us if you have any questions.

Hang Tien 1-day Discovery

Please make sure that your health is suitable for these activities with ease:

  • 8 km jungle and mountain trekking, rocky terrain
  • 4 km caving
  • Requirements:
    • Basic trekking experience

Hang En Cave Adventure 

Please make sure that your health is suitable for these activities with ease.

  • 20km jungle and mountain trekking, rocky terrain
  • Multiple river crossings: 30 times (knee deep, 10-50m wide river)
  • Elevation change up to 400m (between road and valleys)
  • 4 km caving
  • Short swim inside the cave
  • 2 days and 1 night in jungle and caves
  • Requirements:
    • Trekking experience & must be able to walk 10km in one day
    • Must be able to withstand hot trekking days
      Note: Be prepared for your shoes to get very wet due to many river crossings!

Wild Tu Lan Cave Explorer

Please make sure that your health is suitable for these activities with ease.

  • 17km jungle and mountain trekking, rocky terrain
  • Elevation change up to 150m (between valley and top of mountain)
  • 1 km swimming in caves (from 200m - 500m each cave)
  • 4 km caving
  • 3 days and 2 nights in jungle and caves
  • Requirements:
    • Basic trekking experience
    • Must be able to swim
      Note: Be prepared for your shoes to get very wet due to many river crossings!

Oxalis Adventure Tours staff (cave expert or guide) reserves the right to decline, accept or retain any person as a member of any party at any time without compensation or refund due to safety issue.

Please check Frequently Asked Questions or chat with us if you have any questions.

Hang Tien Endeavor 

Please make sure that your health is suitable for these activities with ease.

  • 13 km jungle and mountain trekking, rocky terrain
  • River crossings
  • 5.5 km caving
  • 2 days and 1 night camping in the jungle
  • Requirements:
    Basic trekking experience
    Note: Be prepared for your shoes to get very wet due to river crossings!

Hang Va Expedition

Please make sure that your health is suitable for these activities with ease.

  • 10km jungle and mountain trekking, rocky terrain
  • 3km caving in river caves (cold water, 17 degree Celcius, waist deep)
  • Elevation gain is 150m (between road and mountain top)
  • 20m traverse using rope and harness
  • 2 days and 1 night in jungle and caves
    Note: Be prepared for your shoes to get very wet due to many river crossings!

Hang Tien Exploration

Please make sure that your health is suitable for these activities with ease.

  • 22 km jungle and mountain trekking, rocky terrain
  • 6.5 km caving
  • Elevation change up to 150 m (between valley and top of mountain)
  • 3 days and 2 nights in jungle and caves
  • Requirements:
    Basic trekking experience
    Note: Be prepared for your shoes to get very wet due to river crossings!

Oxalis Adventure Tours staff (cave expert or guide) reserves the right to decline, accept or retain any person as a member of any party at any time without compensation or refund due to safety issue.

Please check Frequently Asked Questions or chat with us if you have any questions.

Tu Lan Expedition

The Tu Lan Expedition is moderate-to-hard for anyone who considers themselves physically fit and who participates in regular outdoor activities, and not suitable for those without trekking experience. Please make sure that you have basic trekking experience, you are able to swim and your health is suitable for these activities with ease.

  • About 30 km jungle and mountain trekking, rocky terrain
  • About 5 km caving
  • About 800 m swimming in caves (from 100 m – 300 m each cave)
  • Elevation change up to 300 m (between valley and top of mountain – total of 1750m of ascent)
  • 1 abseil in a cave (in the dark)
  • 4 days and 3 nights in jungle and caves

Oxalis Adventure Tours staff  reserves the right to decline, accept or retain any person as a member of any party at any time without compensation or refund due to safety issue.

Please check Frequently Asked Questions or chat with us if you have any questions.

Son Doong Expedition

Please make sure that your health is suitable for these activities with ease.

  • 25 km jungle and mountain trekking
  • Elevation change up to 400m (between road and valleys)
  • Surface river crossing: 40 times (knee deep, 10-50m wide river)
  • 7 km caving including rope climbs, rocky terrain and scrambling (including 90m ascent of the Great Wall of Vietnam)
  • Underground river-strong current crossing
  • Requirements:
    • Regular running, trekking, caving or rock climbing (at least once per month). Other outdoor pursuits may be considered
    • Strong legs and good balance
    • Previous multi-day treks
    • General good health and fitness
      Note: Be prepared for your shoes to get very wet due to many river crossings!

Oxalis Adventure Tours staff (cave expert or guide) reserves the right to decline, accept or retain any person as a member of any party at any time without compensation or refund due to safety issue. This tour is not for those with limited outdoor/trekking experience, poor medical condition, nor is it for children or expectant mothers.

Please check Frequently Asked Questions or chat with us if you have any questions.

We Will Provide

  • 1 night’s accommodation at Chay Lap Farmstay (single or twin-shared)
  • Camping gear: tent, camp light, sleeping bag, mattresses, pillow
  • Caving & safety gear: caving helmet, life jacket, gloves
  • Professional caving headlight (Hope Technology headlights – 1500 lumens)
  • Photography lighting supports (Hope Technology – R8 3,000 lumens)
  • Light PVC backpack (if you do not want to take your own, as it will get wet)
  • Dry bag (for clothing and personal belongings excl. electronics)
  • Basic canvas trekking boots (only if you do not have your own pair) sizes 36 – 46
  • Meals: picnic lunch and dinner (day 1, 2, 3 & 4), breakfast (day 2, 3, 4, and departure)
  • Gala dinner on day 4
  • Professional English-speaking tour guide and guide safety assistants
  • Porter team to carry all camping gear and prepare all meals
  • Porter team to carry all your personal belongings to camp
  • Shared dry box for phones and small cameras (limited availability for larger cameras)
  • Water purifier (used only by guide and porters) and water bottle
  • Basic camping facilities with eco-friendly compost toilet using western toilet seat
  • First Aid Kit and Medical Rescue Equipment (application by guides and porters only)
  • Secure Storage Facility at Oxalis Tan Hoa office to store all luggage you will not be taking on the trek
  • 2 group transfers from Chay Lap Farmstay to Dong Hoi city center after tour (1 transfer in the morning and 1 transfer in the afternoon)
  • 1 hour complimentary kayaking at Chay Riverside

You Will Need

  • 2 long (easy to dry) pants and 2 long sleeved shirt to wear during the trek (quick dry)
  • 2 pair of shorts and t-shirts to wear at campsite and swim suit
  • 1 pair of trekking boots/shoes – difficult terrain, good footwear necessary. Gore-Tex/waterproof boots are NOT recommended as they do not drain well (if you prefer your own comfortable pair)
  • 1 pair of flip flops (sandals) for campsite
  • 1 medium size towel
  • 3-4 pairs of calf length densely woven socks (not ankle socks!)
  • Anti-fungal foot powder (talcum powder)
  • Personal items: mosquito repellent, sunglasses, hat, camera, underwear, toiletries
  • Shoe pads and thick socks if using Oxalis canvas trekking boots

Tour excludes:

  • Travel insurance (you must purchase travel insurance to join this tour, otherwise our team will help to purchase local travel insurance at VND 440,000 for a 4-day trip and you will be billed before your arrival date)
  • Any additional costs other than those mentioned above; additional expenses may include laundry services, extra food & drink, and additional water sports & river cruises at Chay Lap Farmstay.
  • Tip for guide team and porter team

If you are trekking in the colder months (February – March) please bring additional warm clothes for the evening and an extra change of long pants and shirt for swimming.

Pricing And Availability

Our Tu Lan Expedition is available with two departures per week on a join-in basis only (minimum 2 pax). It is advised to book in advance as this is a popular tour and we are strictly limited to 8 guests per departure.

This tour is operated from February to August (closed from September to January).

FAQ: Tu Lan Expedition

What if I am a solo traveler, can I join a group?

Solo travelers are most welcome and make up a large percentage of most groups.

Why do I have to sign your Release Form?

We require customers to sign our Release Form to confirm they accept this is an adventure tour and they have to follow our guide’s instructions and safety rules. Customers also accept they have some responsibilities for their own safety.

Can I arrive in Phong Nha on the morning of the tour and depart Phong Nha directly after the tour?

This tour starts with pickup between 7:30 – 8:00 am in Phong Nha. You would be able to arrive on the tour morning by night bus from Hanoi or by train from many destinations. Please be advised that it’s necessary to get on the train that arrives in Dong Hoi before 6AM for the departure day, since you will need to travel another hour from Dong Hoi Train Station to Phong Nha to start the tour. Also, there are neither early morning flights nor late evening flights which would accommodate arriving on tour morning or departing directly after the tour; only buses and trains are available at these times.

After the tour, at Tan Hoa office, you will have time to take a proper shower that you have been waiting for many days, have a cold drink, collect your luggage and be transferred to Chay Lap Farmstay. Check in at the hotel around 6:30 pm, and then enjoy a gala dinner with your expedition team around 7:30 pm. The night will be spent at Chay Lap before checking-out tomorrow morning.

If you have to leave early after the tour, please inform our sales specialist in advance for arrangements.

Do I need to have rappelling/abseiling experience to join this tour?

No, you do not need to have prior rappelling or abseiling experience to join this tour. On the second morning you will be given a lesson in rappelling/abseiling and do a practice session to ensure you feel comfortable and knowledgeable before the underground abseil.

Why is this tour so much more expensive than the 3-day Wild Tu Lan Cave Explorer?

This tour is more expensive than the 3-day Wild Tu Lan Cave Explorer due to the fact that it is one day longer with much more challenges and experiences in an expedition tour. It runs with a member of the British Cave Research Association on tour. Also the use of technical equipment such as harnesses, safety lines and ropes also add to the cost of the expedition.

How does this expedition compare physically to a shorter Tu Lan adventure tour?

This expedition is much more physically challenging than any of our shorter Tu Lan adventure tours. There are much longer days trekking and you have to be well prepared for this kind of jungle hiking. There are also two short abseils included on the tour (we will provide training for this).

Why is the number of participants so limited for this tour?

As with all expedition tours, the number of participants is limited for safety reasons due to the fact that all activities on tour are high adventure level.

Do I have to swim on this tour?

Yes, you do you have to swim on this tour. There will be swimming sections of approximately 100 m – 300 m throughout the tour. Life jackets will be provided by Oxalis and are mandatory regardless of your swimming ability.

How far in advance do I need to book this tour? How will I know my tour is confirmed?

We recommend booking this tour as soon as you can, as it’s one of our most popular tours. After you make a booking, a member of our team will follow up within 48 hours with your invoice, payment link, and further tour information.

How can I pay? Can I pay via credit card? What is your cancellation policy?

You can pay via credit card through the online payment link we will provide you with. We use the online payment platform OnePay which accepts Visa and Mastercard. If you live in Vietnam, you have other option to make a bank transfer.

Our cancellation policy for this tour requires a 7 day advance notice: if we receive your cancellation 7 days or more in advance of your tour, we will provide you a full refund. We do not provide refunds for tours cancelled less than 7 days prior to tour departure.

What can I do with the things that I don’t want to bring with me on tour? Can I leave them at your office?

You are welcome to leave behind extra luggage at our office. Anything you choose to leave behind will get tagged and placed securely in our locked storage room, however please note that Oxalis takes no responsibility for luggage or valuables left behind. Please do not bring anything of major value with you as we will not be responsible for these items.

Does this tour include Son Doong Cave?

No, this tour does not include Son Doong Cave because it ventures to the Tu Lan cave system located 70 km from Son Doong Cave.

How can I get to Phong Nha?

Please check the Arrival & Departure Guide on our website for more information

Where can I stay in Phong Nha?

Please check the Accommodation Guide on our website for more information

For more questions and answers, please visit our full FAQ page. We have collected lots of common questions that you might share with our previous customers.

If you still have questions about this tour, please contact our local travel specialists who will be happy to answer all your questions