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21 epic things you must try when travelling to Phong Nha

When you plan on traveling to Vietnam, Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park has to be on top of your to-do list!

With plenty of things to see and do in Phong Nha, this safe, affordable and charming destination is one of those last few places on Earth, which are yet to be completely discovered. Phong Nha is not just a beautiful remote village in Vietnam, it’s a different world in itself and it beckons you to be a part of it.

First nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998 and recognized as one in 2003, Phong Nha – Ke Bang National park is truly a marvel of nature. This magnificent land is hidden away in the depth of dense jungles, valleys, jungle clad Karst Mountains and the serene rivers of Central Vietnam.

Travellers have a very wide range of things to see and do in Phong Nha, including one day adventure tours/ overnight camping tours in the jungles and giant caves of the region!

Check out this list of the Top 21 things to see and do in Phong Nha:

1.

Adventure Tours:

Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is popularly called the ‘Adventure capital of Asia’ and Asia’s biggest Adventure tour operator, Oxalis Adventure is based here. Explore the majestic jungle, gigantic and astounding caves with Oxalis, including the World’s Biggest Cave, Hang Son Doong, the World’s third biggest cave, Hang En, a beautiful cave with the world’s rarest cave formations – Hang Va and the colossal Tu Lan Cave System comprising of over 10 beautiful caves.

2.

Classic Tours:

Di Di Thoi is a local tour operator that will take you into the cultural heart of Phong Nha through wonderfully designed classic tours, sunset cruises and the like. You’ll also have a chance to learn how the iconic Vietnamese conical hat is made! Doing a classic tour in Phong Nha is considered to be one of the most ideal ways to experience the true warmth of local traditions and see how beautiful this part of the world is.

3.

Take a boat ride to Phong Nha Cave:

Phong Nha receives its name from the iconic Phong Nha Cave. Take a boat ride through the serene Son River and visit this legendary cave. It would interest you to know that the Phong Nha Cave is one of the biggest, most legendary and historically significant caves in all of Vietnam and even the world. The region of Phong Nha gets its name from this very cave. You’ll be taken there on a boat that is run by the inhabitants of the local Na village, who make a living by taking visitors to the Phong Nha cave and also fish farming.

4.

Paradise Cave:

Visit the huge 31 Km long Paradise Cave. The “Thien Duong” cave, known as Paradise Cave in English, is the longest cave of the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park. Once inside the cave, you’ll find boardwalks and an artificial lighting system installed that helps you to see and admire the breath-taking beauty of the giant formations of the Paradise Cave. The locals decided to make this cave commercial in order to attract nature lovers from all over the world and show them this natural asset residing in Phong Nha.  You can do this with a tour or by yourself.

5.

Visit the Phong Nha Botanical Garden:

The Phong Nha Botanical Garden is rich in a variety of fauna and flora, and can be explored on a two-wheeler. As you go further and further, you’ll see the simplicity of the rural life here; it’s truly special and will surely be memorable for you. The route through the park stops at the mesmerising Thac Gio Waterfall and the utterly beautiful Vang Anh Lake.

6.

Mooc Spring Eco-trail:

The Mooc Spring Eco-Trail, also known as Nuoc Mooc Eco-Trail. This is an incredible riverside retreat inside the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park and is a wonderful site to relax and immerse into the serenity of Phong Nha. It has many exotic animals as well as some of the most beautiful scenery you’ll ever see in Asia. Visiting this wonderful natural haven is highly recommended during summer time!

7.

Dark Cave:

Visit the Dark Cave for a day full of fun and frolic. You get wet, muddy and dirty, but you’ll have a lot of fun throughout and meet many people from around the world. Zip-lining to the entrance of the dark cave is one of best highlights about visiting this adventure playground; this is the longest zip-line in Vietnam!

8.

Bong Lai Valley:

Bong Lai Valley is a beautiful rural valley in Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park area and is interlinked with farms and small villages. If you’re looking to relax on a hammock for a day and watch the sunset with a cold beer, this is the place to be. All you need is a bike and a map for exploring this valley. Explore mountains and indigenous villages with lots of picturesque sights. It’s ideal to end your day by enjoying the traditional grilled chicken and beer. If you wish to experience the true beauty of this region’s countryside, the Bong Lai Valley is a must visit place!

9.

The Duck Stop:

This place ranks right up on top as one of the things to do in Phong Nha and Bong Lai Valley. On this unusual and amusing tour, you’ll be spending your time at Mr. Quynh’s farm, known as the Duck Stop. Quynh and his family offer travellers a very extraordinary and fun experience at their farm with the perfect taste of the rural life and local lifestyle! You also get to ride a 1-ton water buffalo called Donald Trump! Don’t miss this.

10.

Ethnic Villages:

There are various ethnic villages to be seen in Phong Nha and their simple yet interesting lifestyle, like the Na Village, Phong Nha Village, Trooc Village, Bong Lai Valley and Doong Village, a village located deep in the jungle and is only featured on the Son Doong Expedition and Hang En Adventure by Oxalis Adventure.

11.

Local Market:

Phong Nha is a very small town and the cute little local market here is really interesting to visit as a traveller. Souvenirs, clothes, fresh produce; you’ll find all this in the market. What makes this market truly special and charming is the coming together of different generations of the locals for the common purpose of making a humble living and greeting the world with smiles galore. The locals will go out of their way to make sure you get what you’re looking for in the market.

At the farmstay, have a wonderful accommodation experience being surrounded by the vast expanse of serene farms and rural life of Phong Nha, while getting to know more about the local culture. And while you’re at the water sport centre, splash about with kayaking, water skippers, water bikes, stand up paddles and round boats! Staying at the Chay Lap Farmstay & Resort will be an unforgettable experience for you.

13.

Bicycle around Phong Nha:

Cycling in Phong Nha is great fun due to the beautiful landscapes and lively atmosphere. A special part of this is the adorable local children smiling and waving at you as you pass them. Not just kids, but all the locals you pass will joyfully say “Hello” to you.

14.

Ride the Phong Nha loop on a motorbike:

The Phong Nha loop is the best motorcycling loop in Vietnam and takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes seen in Asia, while making you feel free as a bird on the motorbike!

15.

Water Activities:

Enjoy kayaking or take a dip in the tranquil Son River that flows through Phong Nha and watch the sunset like never before. You can do this at Oxalis Home or with Di Di Thoi, where you get to kayak on the Chay River. Enjoy a nice swim, surrounded by beautiful hills and villages. Every so often you’ll be joined by the adorable local kids who’ll be having the time of their life splashing around with you. Fun fact: (Phong Nha is the paradise to kayak)!

16.

Spend time with the locals:

This is also one of the memorable things to do in Phong Nha. The friendly local people and the overall atmosphere here will make your Vietnam travel experience beautiful. The Phong Nha people are the most respectful, friendliest and most welcoming people you’ll ever meet.

17.

Enjoy Vietnamese dinner with a local Phong Nha family:

Stay at a homestay in Phong Nha town and dine with the local family that runs the homestay. You will be welcomed and treated like a part of the family and this will also make you feel closer to the culture of Phong Nha and even the local eating habits.

18.

Sip a great coffee with a beautiful view:

Visit East Hill Coffee. This place offers great coffee, food and drinks with the best view. Sit on the high bamboo platforms here and get mesmerized by the endless rice fields and lush greenery you see surrounding you from all directions. You can also indulge in some barbeque chicken with the locals here.

19.

Have fun at Karaoke:

The people of Phong Nha are big into entertainment and have a massive Karaoke culture. It’s a unique experience to be part of a Karaoke party, after returning from a tiring adventure tour in one of the caves.

20.

Try the local rice wine:

Enjoy sipping on some local rice wine with the locals. This is very popular in the region and is referred to as ‘happy water’. Try it and you’ll know why!

21.

Enjoy the wildlife:

Owing to the dense jungles in this region of Central Vietnam, Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park has a rich wildlife. It has monkeys, wild boars, black bears, water buffalos, exotic snakes, beautiful butterflies and much more! The massive water buffalos are usually seen around town, creating small traffic jams; this is a really enjoyable experience. You can also have a chance to sit on a huge water buffalo. They’re considered to be a symbol for Vietnam’s rural life. Enjoy the ride!

Despite the fact that Phong Nha has plenty of places to see, experiences to feel and things to do; the simplest pleasure in Phong Nha is to just lie on a hammock, watch the sunset over the mountains, sip on some coffee and relax.

Oxalis Adventure Tours:

ONE DAY TOURS

If you are seeking a taste of the caves and really don’t have enough time then we recommend a one-day cave and jungle trek. We currently have three tour options for you to select, each with a slightly different style and suitability.

• Phong Nha National Park 1-DayOur family adventure in the Phong Nha offers a great taste of untouched jungle and impressive wild caves. It is the easiest level of adventure but there is still 5km of trekking and 2km of caving, and optional swimming during warmer weather into one cave. It’s suitable for kids from 12 and above with good fitness, and so this makes for a great day for everyone! It costs VND 1,650,000 per person (USD 72).

• Tu Lan Experience – 1 DayThis is one of our original one-day tours and still one of the best adventures in Vietnam. This one-day tour includes rock scrambling, 50m swimming through a wild river-cave, and up to 9 km of trekking through the lush jungles. You will also strap yourself in for a 15m decent down a ladder. It costs VND 1,800,000 (USD 78) per person.

• Hang Tien Discovery – 1 DayThis one-day tour is perfect for trekking enthusiasts eager to see the largest cave of Tu Lan but without time for the two-day experience. Hang Tien is a dry cave so no swimming required, but still includes up to 4km of trekking through mostly flat jungle and about 500m exploring this incredible cave that will no doubt impress with its grandeur. It costs VND 2,000,000 per person (USD 87).

TWO DAY TOURS

Our most popular cave adventures start from two-days providing an immersive jungle and caving adventure, each targeting a slightly different kind of adventure-seeker, or perfect for those who want to combine a couple of tours to see different caves and areas on one trip to Phong Nha.

• Tu Lan Cave Encounter – 2 DaysOur most popular tour exploring the famous jungle area of Tu Lan. On this overnight camping excursion, you will trek through a number of different dry caves, swim up to 500m through a couple of river caves, witness outstanding cascading waterfalls underground as featured in National Geographic, and spend the night at our jungle camp beside a gorgeous waterfall. It includes 12km of trekking and 3km of caving in total and is for those with good adventurous spirit. It costs VND 5,500,000 per person (USD 239).

• Hang En Cave Adventure – 2 DaysFor two days, this is our best-value-for-money tour that includes one of the most jaw-dropping natural landscapes you will see in this lifetime. This cave is considered the second largest cave in Vietnam and third largest in the World, and it also makes up one night of the original five-day Son Doong Cave Expedition being so close to the largest cave in the world. It includes visiting Ban Doong Ethnic Village, located in the jungle, and a magnificent campsite on a sandy beach inside the cave. It includes 22km of jungle trekking at times quite rocky, multiple knee-deep river crossings, and elevation change of 400m (the ‘hill’ you won’t forget), and 4km of caving. This is a level 3 adventure on a scale of 1 to 6. It costs VND 7,600,000 per person (USD 330).

• Hang Tien Endeavor – 2 DaysA two-day trek into the jungle to see the largest dry cave of the Tu Lan area, exploring 5.5km of this truly stunning cave, with a variety of karst formations. This 13km trek is suitable for those not too keen on cave swimming or a too many hills, but still up for an adventure. This is a level 4 adventure between 1 and 6, with 6 being the most challenging. It costs VND 6,500,000 per person (USD 283).

• Hang Va Expedition – 2 DaysA technically challenging, but equally rewarding two-day caving adventure in the heart of Phong Nha National Park. This tour takes you deep into the jungle to one of the most spectacular river-caves, with formations not seen anywhere else in the world! It involves rock scrambling, wading through an underground river, bouldering and rope-traversing within the cave, to reach the rarest tower cone formations. This involves quite a lot of technical work due to safety, but is not overly difficult, it includes 10km of trekking and 3 km of caving.  This is a level 4 adventure, with 6 being the highest. It costs VND 8,000,000 per person (USD 348).

THREE-DAY TOURS

Now, if you really want to increase the adventure and soak up the wild jungle of Vietnam, with plenty of time to relax and enjoy the area, we highly recommend a three-day caving tour of our Tu Lan or Hang Tien.

• Wild Tu Lan Cave Explorer – 3 DaysThis tour incorporates the very best of Tu Lan with two different jungle campsites besides stunning waterfalls, 3km of cave exploring through a number of caves, 1km of cave swimming and visiting some additional areas not included on our shorter experiences. Our three-day tour is very popular and tends to be booked out so get in quick to enjoy this thrilling jungle adventure. It includes 17 km of jungle trekking and with quite a bit of swimming you will need to have a good level of fitness. It is not for the faint-hearted, but still only considered level 3 adventure level compared to level 4 of the Hang Tien 3-day tour. It costs VND 8,000,000 per person (USD 348).

• Hang Tien Exploration – 3 DaysThis three-day tour stands out for combining a taste of Tu Lan with some river cave swimming, before crossing a mountain range to reach the valley for Hang Tien – the most astounding dry caves in the region, where you will enjoy trekking, bouldering over various rocky terrains to witnessing breathtaking patterned calcite walls & ceilings of Hang Tien. It’s challenging and definitely more suited to adventure enthusiasts who have trekking experience and prefer more challenging routes. It includes a total of 22km of trekking, 6.5 km of caving and an elevation change of 150m over one particular hillside. You will get wet, you will be challenged, but you will not be disappointed. Hang Tien is located adjacent to the Tu Lan area so you will enjoy the best of both worlds – a level 4 adventure out of 6 adventure levels. It costs VND 8,500,000 per person (USD 370).

FOUR & FIVE-DAY TOURS

For those looking for the ultimate adventure experience in Vietnam, and thriving for the real grand expedition of the world, you should opt for these 4-day journeys to explore the entire cave system of Tu Lan and the largest cave on Earth

• Tu Lan Expedition – 4 DaysYou will also explore all of the extraordinary caves in Tu Lan, including Kim Cave and Secret Cave that boasts phenomenal natural falls and karst formations inside these two unbelievable river caves. Complete a trek through Hang Tien Cave – famed for its vastness and magnificent formations. Our secluded jungle campsites are spectacular and mostly different from those visited on our shorter treks in the same region. This is a perfect alternative expedition for those who are unable to do Son Doong Expedition, still it’s challenging and not recommended for those without experience. It includes an additional night at Chay Lap Farmstay before the tour to ensure you are well rested and ready to depart early the following day. Level 5 on our 6 adventure levels. It includes 30km of jungle trekking, 5 km of caving, about 800m swimming through caves and one abseil in a cave in the pitch black – highly adventurous! It costs VND 15,000,000 per person (USD 652).

• Son Doong Expedition – 4 DaysBy now you would have seen some pictures of Son Doong Cave, and even they don’t do it justice. The record-breaking Son Doong Cave is hands-down one of the most stunning places on this planet Earth. The expedition is tough, but not too difficult so long as you have a strong resolve to achieve. It is surely one of the newest wonders of the world. Son Doong is not just another cave tour – it is life changing to say the least. It includes 25km of trekking, 9 km caving including rope climbs, and the 90m ascent of the Great Wall of Vietnam using a ladder, elevation change of 400m and many river crossings inside and outside the cave. Level 6 on our adventure levels. It costs VND 69,800,000 per person (USD 3000).

STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?  Visit our FAQs section where we have alot of answers for your questions and concerns. https://oxalis.com.vn/faq-general/

WANT TO SEE VIDEOS OF OUR TOURS? Visit our youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/OxalisAdventurTours

WANT TO CHAT LIVE WITH OUR ADVENTURE CONSULTANT? Please look at the green icon at the right cornor on your screen below  to talk to our Adventure Consultant.