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Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park

About the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park

 

Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam is a place where your travel goals and dreams will actually turn into reality. This place is heavenly in terms of the natural marvels it has, the incredible culture, the highly extraordinary adventures it offers and so much more! The Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park tours are gaining an increasing popularity in Asia and even the world. People from all over the world visit Phong Nha to see a side of Vietnam and Asia that they could never even imagine in their wildest dreams!

The Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site and has earned this honor thanks to its richness with regards to the natural assets it holds within! Tourism has seen a massive boom in Phong Nha over the years and has certainly made it the top must-visit place in Vietnam and all of Asia. This place is also popularly known as the ‘Adventure Capital of Asia’ owing to the fact that the adventure tours in Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park have set a benchmark of supreme quality in adventure tourism, not just in Vietnam and Asia, but on a global level.

Location & Total Area

Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is located in the Bo Trach and Minh Hoa districts of the central province of Quang Binh. The Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park covers a total surface area of 126,236 hectares and shares a boundary with the Hin Nam No Nature Reserve in the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos.
bandophongnha
The core zone of Phong Nha – Ke Bang National park covers 857.54 km2 and a buffer zone of 1,954 kmbelongs to 13 villages (Dan Hoa village, Hoa Son Village, Trung Hoa village, Thuong Hoa village, Trong Hoa Village from Minh Hoa District; Tan Trach village, Thuong Trach village, Xuan Trach village, Phuc Trach village, Son Trach village, Phu Dinh village, Hung Trach village from Bo Trach District and Truong Son village from Quang Ninh District).

History

The Phong Nha – Ke Bang Nature Reserve was created in 1999 and was renamed the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in 2001. The park derives its name from Phong Nha Cave, containing many fascinating rock formations, and Ke Bang tropical forests. The National Park contains terrestrial and aquatic habitats, primary and secondary forest, sites of natural regeneration, tropical dense forests and savanna and is rich in large, often spectacular and scientifically significant caves. The property contains and protects almost 200 km of caves and underground rivers making it one of the most outstanding limestone karst ecosystems in the world. The karst landscape is not only complex but also ancient, with high geo-diversity and geomorphic features of considerable significance.

The karst formation process has led to the creation of not only underground rivers but also a variety of cave types including: dry caves, terraced caves, suspended caves, dendritic caves and intersecting caves. The Phong Nha cave is the most famous of the system with tour boats able to penetrate inside to a distance of 1500m. The Son Doong Cave, first explored in 2009, is believed to contain the world’s largest cave passage in terms of diameter, height and volume.

The exploration of these most amazing caves Phong Nha Cave, Thien Duong Cave (Paradise Cave), Son Doong Cave, Hang En Cave etc. came into existence to bring a giant wave of tourism to not just Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park but all of Vietnam.

World Heritage Site

This Phong Nha – Ke Bang National park was listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 2003 for its tremendous geological values:

•  Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is part of a larger dissected plateau, which encompasses the Phong Nha, Ke Bang and Hin Nam No karsts. The plateau is one of the finest and most distinctive examples of a complex karst landform in Southeast Asia and the property is of great importance for enhancing our understanding of the geologic, geomorphic and geo-chronological history of the region.

•  Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park consists of a complex limestone landscape, which includes very large caves and underground rivers. The property includes karst formations which are some of the oldest and largest in Asia, and it has geological, climatic, hydrographic and ecological conditions which are distinct from other limestone karst landscapes.

•  A high level of biodiversity is found within the property, with over 2,700 species of vascular plants and over 800 vertebrate species. Several globally threatened species are also present: 133 plant species and 104 vertebrate species have been reported, including several large mammals such as the endangered Large-antlered Muntjac, Clouded Leopard, and the critically endangered Sao La.

Hydrology and Geology Features of Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park

Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park happens to be one of the two largest limestone regions on Earth. When compared to other karst filled world heritage sites, the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park has biotic, geomorphic and geologic features and conditions completely different from the former sites. The Karst found in the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is known to be around 400 million years old, making Phong Nha the oldest major karst area in all of Asia.

In general, the tropical forests of the glorious Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park shelters a very wide region of limestone mountains, rivers, valleys, streams and some formidable underground cave systems. Such as: Phong Nha Cave System (including Son Doong Cave – largest cave in the world; Dark cave, E cave, Tra Ang Cave, Hang Thung Cave, Hang En Cave – third largest cave in the world, Khe Ry Cave, Khe Trieng Cave, Tien Son Cave); Vom Cave System (including Vom Cave, Dai Cao Cave, Maze Cave, Ca Cave, Ho Cave, Over Cave, Pygmy Cave, Ruc Caroong Cave, Thien Duong Cave (Paradise cave), and Ruc Mon Cave (Minh Hoa District).

Flora & Fauna

A large number of faunal and floral species occur within Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park with over 800 vertebrate species recorded comprising 154 mammals, 117 reptiles, 58 amphibians, 314 birds and 170 fish. The property clearly has impressive levels of biodiversity within its intact forest cover, notwithstanding some gaps in knowledge of the population status of some species.

Life in Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park

 

Phong Nha has an unusual and special charm to itself. The simplicity of the lifestyle that the locals of Phong Nha lead, is truly beautiful to see and know about. Lots of money or a lack of it has never stopped the locals from sticking to their roots and smiling through all phases alike. The families live together, work together and constantly put their efforts towards a collective growth of Phong Nha. The days are spent working hard and the nights are spent relishing good food and chatter with loved ones.

The occupations of the Phong Nha locals are diversified and common at the same time! Some are involved in agriculture, some are involved in fish farming, some are involved in providing transportation services to visitors, some in providing wonderful accommodations, while some run restaurants for Phong Nha travellers to enjoy the authentic Vietnamese cuisine.

The Na Village on the other side of the majestic Son River has a majority of locals working as boatmen taking visitors to the ever glorious Phong Nha cave. This is one of the rather unconventional and important occupations in Phong Nha, in terms of the rapid development of tourism in the region.

Although the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park suffered in the past in the Vietnam War, the people of Phong Nha could fight through their adversities with the unconditional support of Mother Nature and got over the harsh times with intense determination. The natural beauty of Phong Nha could never be destroyed and it gave the people hope and happiness even in times of grief.

Tourism has changed the entire image of Phong Nha and it is now considered one of the premier holiday and travel destinations in the whole world, as travellers come here from every walk of life and go back with special memories.

A heart-warming story

To get a more realistic taste of the facts mentioned above, here’s an excerpt of Phong Nha through the eyes of a local boatman:

“My name is Giáo, I’m 60 years old and I’m a boatman making daily trips to the Phong Nha cave. My family has been living here their whole life and witnessed lots of ups and downs of Phong Nha village.

About 20 years ago, Phong Nha had suffered a lot even after the war ended. We, with our agricultural background, still lived in poverty with no electricity, transportation or stable incomes. It’s so unbelievable how things have changed. Now, thanks to the great development of tourism on our land, our lives have been majorly improved. We have electricity for the most part, living conditions in the town are way better than before and we earn an increased income from our boat jobs, together with our family’s fish farming & agricultural activities. My children could pursue better education and my family continues to live a peaceful life here in Phong Nha. It’s a wonderful feeling to think that there is such a big world outside of Phong Nha and people from every corner would visit us with so much love. It fills us with so much happiness, as we see Phong Nha gradually becoming a worldwide example for beauty & peace, and a land that welcomes everyone with open arms.”

How tourism transformed Phong Nha for the better

Despite a massive wave of tourism, Phong Nha is one of the few places on Earth that still hasn’t lost its tranquility. Phong Nha has been a game-changer for Tourism in Vietnam and attracts travellers from every corner of the world and diversified walks of life.

ban-doong

The standard of living of the locals has improved by leaps and bounds since tourism made its way into Phong Nha. Apart from the incredible generation of employment opportunities and monetary benefits for the Phong Nha locals, it has also brought Phong Nha closer to the rest of the world. Not the just friendly locals but even the kids grow up watching people from all over the world and communicating with them. Phong Nha has indeed become a global destination thanks to the development of tourism in the region and changed the lives of the Phong Nha locals for the best! Any Vietnam Travel itinerary or South-East Asia travel experience would be incomplete without a visit to this magical land.

Things to do

 

There are numerous aspects that attract worldwide travellers to Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park! One amazing fact about this is, that despite the rapid growth of tourism in the region, the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is still considered to be one of the best places in Vietnam to get away from the crowds.

Here are the top things to do, while you visit the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park:

Jungle and Cave Adventure Tours:

 

Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is widely popular as the “Adventure Capital of Asia”! Phong Nha received this title primarily due to the fact that many of the world’s biggest and most exceptional cave systems and caves reside right here in the heart of the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, the most legendary one being the Son Doong Cave – the largest cave in the world. The adventure tours in Phong Nha are absolutely one of a kind and will take you deep into the wilderness of the region and have you explore some gigantic underground caves.

Oxalis Adventure is Asia’s Biggest Adventure Tour Operator and conducts world class jungle and cave adventure tours deep in the wilderness of the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park. The top caves that you can visit with Oxalis are given below:

(Please bear in mind that Oxalis Adventure does not operate tours from September to November every year, as it is Phong Nha’s rainy season.)

Son Doong – The World’s Largest Cave

Phong Nha is home to the world’s largest cave, the Son Doong Cave. It is almost 3 million years old and is the ultimate adrenaline filled cave experience for adventure lovers worldwide! It’s not just a cave, but a different and unique underground universe on its own. This expedition to explore the largest cave in the world is considered to be one of the top bucket list experiences in the whole world.

Hang En – 3rd Largest Cave in the World

Hang En cave is a force to reckon with! It is the third largest cave in the world and the entrance of this mammoth cave lies on the side of a mountain which leads you into the unimaginably beautiful wonders inside. The Hang En Cave Adventure is an adventure tour that remains one of the most special and widely popular ones across Phong Nha.

Hang Va Cave – Famous for its elaborate calcite formations

Hang Va cave is known to have the rarest, most unique and extraordinary calcite formations ever seen in the world. The calcite cones known as tower cones inside this cave are known to be extremely incredible for photography enthusiasts and the formations keep changing as you venture deeper into the cave. On the Hang Va Expedition, you will also get to explore the Nuoc Nut cave which is yet another gorgeous cave hidden underneath the ground of the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park.

Nuoc Nut Cave

Found in 2003, Nuoc Nut Cave has become one of the world’s most attractive natural wonders for exploratory journeys in Vietnam, especially for families or those who wish to fully enjoy the moments of discovery with comparatively lower adventure intensity.

The Phong Nha National Park 1-Day tour includes a journey into Nuoc Nut Cave and gives you a chance to surround yourself by the beauty of the Phong Nha National Park, enhanced by a touch of adventure!

A nearby mysterious & spectacular cave system – Tu Lan Cave System

Tu Lan cave system is huge! It is made up of over 10 caves and you can do a variety of tours in this cave system; from 1 day to 4 days. This giant cave system is based in the Tan Hoa commune, located 70 KM away from the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park. Aside from the beauty though, it’s the adventure of swimming through the river caves that makes these tours incomparable to anything else around. The campsites will treat you to some of the most amazing views of nature as you even get to camp facing a waterfall.

Easy-going Cave Tours:

 

Apart from the above mentioned cave tours that Oxalis operates, there are various other caves in and around the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park that you can explore and be a part of. The entry prices for these caves are much cheaper and the time spent exploring them is much shorter as these caves are considered to be tourist caves.

You can book tours to these caves through the Di Di Thoi office, Phong Nha – Ke Bang Tourism Centre or Phong Nha Discovery office in town or at almost every hotel, homestay and hostel here; keep in mind that the additional prices may vary depending on who you choose to book the tour with.

Paradise Cave 

Located in Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, “Thien Duong Cave”, also known as Paradise Cave is 15 KM long You’ll explore the cave on a boardwalk and with the help of the artificial lighting installed in the cave you will get to witness beautiful stalactites hanging from the high ceiling and some even reaching down into the cavern.

Check out the Paradise Cave guide for all details!

Phong Nha Cave 

The region of Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park gets its very name from the Phong Nha Cave.  Not only is the Phong Nha Cave one of the most beautiful caves in Phong Nha, but also one of the most historically significant and legendary caves in the whole world.

To learn all the details, check out the Phong Nha Cave guide!

Dark Cave 

‘Hang Toi’, popularly known as Dark Cave, is one of the major tourist attractions for people traveling to Phong Nha. This cave appeals to almost every adventure seeker that visits Phong Nha purely for the primitive fun that it offers. If you’re looking for a day out filled with adrenaline, fun and frolic, make your way to the Dark Cave.

For all details, check out the Dark Cave guide!

Eight Lady Cave 

In 1972, 8 people who hailed from North Vietnam and worked as volunteers for the Vietnamese Army were trapped and passed away inside the cave. It is now called the Eight Lady Cave, commemorating the sad incident.

hang-8-co

Other Must-Visit Places :

 

As mentioned earlier, travelling to the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park has a lot to offer in terms of its scenic beauty and here are some of the other places to visit and things to do, which are less adventure motivated and more relaxed. These are considered to be the classics in Phong Nha.

Phong Nha Botanical Garden

The Phong Nha Botanical Garden is extremely beautiful and will give you a great insight into the vibrant bio-diversity of the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park. Once you reach the motorable end of the route, a moderate trek through the park will lead you to the mesmerising Thac Gio Waterfall and the utterly beautiful Vang Anh Lake.

For all details, check out the Phong Nha Botanical Garden guide!

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.

To learn more, check our Bong Lai Valley guide and get ready to go!

Nuoc Mooc Eco-trail

Nuoc Mooc Eco-trail is a lovely retreat located at a riverside, inside the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park. It has wooden walkways and paths that go over one kilometer through the woods only to be greeted by an incredible confluence of two rivers. You’ll have a chance to kayak on the river and walk across the awesome rope bridge! There are different ways to explore this wonderful retreat in the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park.

Check out the Nuoc Mooc Eco-Trail guide to know more!

Visiting the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park

 

The Phong Nha Ke – Bang National Park’s popularity has been skyrocketing and it has made travelling to Phong Nha much easier and convenient. There are various ways to get to Phong Nha National Park, depending on where you choose to begin your travel from. If you’re in Vietnam, you can catch a bus to reach Phong Nha directly, a train or a flight to reach Dong Hoi city, which is just 45 KM away from the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park. If you’re abroad, you can board a flight to either Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi and catch a bus or train to Dong Hoi. Whenever you arrive at Dong Hoi, you can very easily get a cab to Phong Nha, which is less than a 1 hour drive!

To learn the details about how to get to Phong Nha, kindly refer to the Arrival and Departure guide made by Oxalis!

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.