hong Nha nestles in the heart of the spectacular Quang Binh Province. A place of natural beauty; complimented by it’s extensive cave system.

Phong Nha itself, is developing quickly, and with it, the lives of the local people. The growth in Tourism and Hospitality has encouraged many residents to acquire different skills, as they now endeavor to provide visitors with a taste of Paradise. No longer are these people reliant on the unpredictable nature of the agriculture industry. They now form part of a community that offers amazing experiences to the world traveller.

In this article, we invite you to take a look at the deeper wonders of Phong Nha. Allow us to share our story; to help you feel and understand what makes this such a special place.

 

Phong Nha is a welcoming little town, set amongst stunning landscapes. Majestic limestone mountains offer a backdrop to scenic roads and a river of green. Friendly hotels, hostels and homestays await you. What could be better than waking up to these spectacular mountain and river views, savouring your morning tea, and planning your day of exploration? Travel by bicycle, or kayak along the river. Soak up the sunshine, take in the clean air, as village life unfolds around you. All this; plus a chance to experience the hidden treasures of an underground world.

Phong Nha changes with the passing of each season. Spring and autumn see the mist soar high above the river and mountains. Summer brings an intense heat, but enhances the land with the brightest of colours. Winter cloud and cool air paint an atmospheric picture.

Water buffalo and cows graze freely, sharing their beautiful home with the chickens and the ducks. Children run, and skip, and laugh through this natural playground.

Phong Nha has extraordinarily changed over years since Son Doong, Oxalis and its support.

Back in 1990, a local man named Ho Khanh discovered Hang Son Doong cave, located in the  Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park. Twenty years later, with the support of the British Cave Research Association (BCRA) team members, this cave was explored, and considered to be the world’s largest cave. This discovery helped to encourage the growth of the tourism industry.

Previously to this, locals had little opportunity to earn a decent living, their only source of income being from the treasures they claimed from the jungle. Now, the tourism industry has created many jobs. This has seen improvement in lifestyles, in housing and in education.

In 2011, with the continued support from the BCRA members, Oxalis Adventures was founded.  As an adventure tour operator; Oxalis was given exclusive permission to run tours into Son Doong cave and related areas. Since its establishment, Oxalis has worked tirelessly to help improve life for the local people.

By creating secure jobs, Oxalis has established a substantial workforce, who no longer need to hunt in the jungle, but who can provide better housing, better education, better health, and a brighter future for their families. Many of the new business ventures in Phong Nha; homestays and restaurants, along with improved  transportation and food supplies, are as a result of Oxalis’ support. This influence has seen Phong Nha grow into a thriving holiday town.

In offering scholarships, and help with school and library building, Oxalis plays a crucial role in providing better educational opportunities for the local children and teenagers. As we look to a better future for all, Oxalis also encourages increased environmental awareness. This involves organising clean- up efforts, especially along the river, to help prepare for the extremes of the wet season.

Cycle slowly downtown, you will find that the local people are happy, friendly, humble and welcoming. Take time to return the random smiles. Take time to communicate; even one word of Vietnamese will delight the locals. Help is at hand, often before you ask for it. Experience it for yourself.

hong Nha may be just a small town now, but it is changing.

As more and more visitors share their love of this place, Phong Nha will be placed high on the world ‘’NOT TO BE MISSED LIST”

The memory of wonderful landscapes, the rivers and caves will please you for a long time to come, but the joy and inspiration of the people’s heart warming hospitality will remain with you forever.

 

Photo: Ryan Deboodt, Thoai Viet Hoang, Ronald Fritz