Welcome to Phong Nha! We hope you love this village as much as we do. As you’re passing through, you might be a little bit unsure of the norms around here, but luckily, your local travel specialists are here to assist you with that.
Phong Nha is one of those last few places on Earth, which are yet to be completely discovered. This 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. The fact that the Phong Nha cave system is home to the world’s biggest cave, Hang Son Doong cave, is what attracts passionate adventurers worldwide. Not just the glorious Hang Son Doong, but this region has the most spectacular cave systems in the world.
Below we’ve listed some important things to know to help you make your way around our little town!
Why Phong Nha?
In 1995, the Archeological Institute of Vietnam realized that the Phong Nha cave is perhaps one of the most important archaeological sites around. In 1899, a French missioner, Léopold Cadière surveyed the customs and culture of the local inhabitants living along the Son River. In a letter to École française d’Extrême-Orient, he stated that: “What remains here proves to be valuable for history. To keep it is to help science”
It’s a lesser known fact that Central Vietnam and Phong Nha in particular, was one of the most devastated parts of Vietnam during the infamous American War. The Phong Nha village suffered repeated bombings, as it is home to one of the major parts of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The locals kept their fighting spirit alive and their will stronger than ever. Phong Nha is blessed with the world’s most enormous caves all around and the people from the village used some of these caves for sheltering themselves against the ruthless attacks. There were obliterating bombings even on the caves. Despite all this, 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, be it through using the mighty Son River for transportation of troops and supplies or finding shelter and storing weapons deep in the dense jungles and caves. Some of the locals even put up some of the used bombs as decorations for their houses, just to remind themselves of their strength and relentlessness. The natural beauty of Phong Nha could never be destroyed and it gave the people hope and happiness.
Post the war, hunting and farming were the major occupations of the local people which slowly helped in the resuscitation of the village. Phong Nha’s historical significance is worth knowing and it is best known through candid conversations with the local people.
LOCAL PEOPLE & LIFESTYLE
The sheer liveliness of the friendly local people and the overall vigorous atmosphere of this place will make your Phong Nha travel experience unlike any other you’ve had before. The Phong Nha people are the most respectful, friendliest, toughest and most welcoming people you’ll ever meet. From the day you arrive at this wonderland till the day you depart, you’ll be surrounded by positive vibes, genuine smiles and joyous laughter all around. You’ll surely have a wonderful experience conversing with the local children, who aspire to be educated and spread their wings. Phong Nha wouldn’t be what it is today, if it wasn’t for the massive tourism it attracts. This is another major reason why the locals feel extremely happy and blessed to interact with the tourists and make sure that they have the best time of their life in Phong Nha.
The men and women are both very hard working and are grateful for whatever work they do. The occupations of the people are quite varied. Many are involved in fish farming, while many run restaurants, accommodations and tours for the tourists. The people of Phong Nha lead a very simplistic lifestyle.
CULTURE & DIVERSITY
Don’t be surprised if you get invitations for local family dinners right off the bat. It’s part of the culture to be very welcoming towards guests and treat them like family. The people of Phong Nha remain connected with their family throughout. The connection is such that you’ll see families with all 3 generations living under the same roof, sitting at the same table, talking about their day, sharing laughter, wining and dining. It is also very common to see groups of friends hanging out and drinking the popular local rice wine, which will be followed by a fun filled night of Karaoke! The friendly culture of Phong Nha is indeed reflected on a daily basis. You’re sure to find yourself becoming one with the cultural beauty here.
You’d be surprised to know that the remote Phong Nha village is full of diversity and people from different communities went on to form the single community of Phong Nha. Despite the religious and cultural differences, the people live with incredible unity and mutual respect.
All the festivals are celebrated with utmost delight and any tourist is more than welcome to be a part of the traditional way of celebrating. Your Phong Nha travel experience will be made even better if you happen to visit during the boat race events that take place on the Son River, twice every year. In this event, you’ll get to witness the amazing comradery of the locals as they race their iconic Dragon Boats and you’ll feel immersed in the action in true essence.
What to do in Phong Nha?
Let’s tell you about the things you should look forward to the most when travelling to Phong Nha. There are a plenty of things you can do, places you can visit and experiences you can have, should you wish to dive into adventure or feel closer to nature in a rather less adventurous manner.
It would interest you to know that Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is popularly known as the Adventure Capital of Asia.
Phong Nha is home to the world’s largest cave, the Hang 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 world on its own. This cave is so huge that it has its own jungle, river and even its own climate! A tryst with the colossal cave is made possible only with the Son Doong Expedition of 4 days and 3 nights. It’s not, however, that easily accessible as only a maximum of 1000 visitors are admitted into the cave each year. The Hang Son Doong Expedition is priced at 3000 USD and its exclusivity makes this tour worth every single penny you spend.
The expedition to the world’s largest cave – Son Doong Expedition is available in 2019 & 2020 here.
A neighbour of the mighty Hang Son Doong cave, Hang En is a force to reckon with! One of the scenes of the Hollywood movie Pan (2015), starring Hugh Jackman, was shot right here. Hang En is the third biggest cave in the world and the entrance of this mammoth cave lies on the side of a mountain. It leads you into the unimaginably beautiful wonders inside. Hang En Adventure is a 2-day journey to this cave. You’ll be trekking through a dense jungle and also cross the ethnic minority village of Ban Doong before reaching Hang En Cave. Once inside the cave, you’ll be absolutely blown away by the sheer beauty of the rock formations and your campsite will be on the sandy banks of a gorgeous natural blue pool where you get to swim and relax. The Hang En tour gives you a great opportunity to check one of the most spectacular caves in the world off your bucket list.
The Hang En 2-Day Adventure is available to book now.
The Tu Lan cave system is huge! It is made up of over 10 caves and you can do different tours for this cave system; from 1-day to 4-days. It will also interest you to know that the Hollywood Blockbuster Kong: Skull Island was filmed here.
Exploring Tu Lan Caves System will see you trekking through remote, untouched jungles; crossing buffalo fields; being surrounded by giant, looming, limestone mountains on all sides; and plunging into deep, cool, underground rivers that wind gracefully through mountains and river valleys alike. Aside from the beauty though, it’s the adventure of swimming through the river caves that makes this tour unmatchable to anything else around. As you swim through each cave, you’re surrounded by gorgeous limestone formations, seen only by the light of your headtorch, and the fading daylight of the cave entrance! If you’re truly passionate about adventure, make sure you don’t miss this tour on your Phong Nha travel plan.
The adventures to Tu Lan from 1 to 4 days are available to book at:
Hang Va cave is popular for having the most unique and fascinating rock formations in the world. You can reach this cave after a 2 day trek. The calcite cones inside this cave are known to be extremely incredible for photography enthusiasts and the rock formations keep changing as you venture deeper into the cave.
Shared the same water system with Hang Va, Hang Nuoc Nut was first officially explored in 2003. With the length of 2.2 km the cave is a part of Phong Nha Cave System in the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park – the World Natural Heritage Site. This is a 2-million-year-old river cave which you can explore the majority of the cave by walking, wading.
The Hang Va 2-Day Expedition is available to book. If you’re looking for an easy and enjoyable trek to the remote jungle & cave of Vietnam, Phong Nha National Park 1-Day tour is a suitable journey for family adventure with children and offers an outstanding outdoor trekking experience to Nuoc Nut Cave.
Hang Tien – the biggest cave of the Tu Lan Cave System, was first explored in 1994. In 2015, an Oxalis safety assistant called Uy decided to go out of the exit of Hang Tien, and explore the jungle to look for a continuation. He found another entrance, which we call Tien 2. This small entrance hidden in the jungle leads to a large, beautiful and extensive cave. Tien 2 was explored and mapped in 2015 and 2016 by British cavers. It has a length of just over 2.5 kilometres. Visitors to the area now have two impressive caves to explore.
Multi day tours visit both caves, and camp near the river and natural blue pool:
As we mentioned earlier, Phong Nha travel has a lot to offer in terms of its scenic beauty and now we’ll tell you about some of the other places to visit and things to do, which are less adventure motivated and more relaxed. We like to call these the classics!
A part of the National Park, the Paradise Cave is 31-km long and you’ll get to the grand chamber after walking your way across a staircase made of wood. Here, you’ll witness beautiful stalactites hanging from the high ceiling and some even reach down into the cavern and is a sight you’ll treasure forever. Most tourists only get to see the first 1 km of this giant cave. However, you do have the option of getting on kayaks and kayak your way further into the cave.
- Phong Nha Cave
The region gets its name from this very cave. You’ll get to the cave by boarding a small wooden boat that’ll take you there across the serene Son River, where you’ll find yourself surrounded by magnificent Karst Mountains and lush green vegetation. The stalactites and the stalagmites cutting through the cave appear as teeth of a giant monster, only 400 meters of the cave is open for exploration by tourists.
- Dark Cave
Hang Toi or Dark Cave has been transformed into an adrenaline fuelled playground. Visitors can swoop down to the entrance of the cave Indian Jones style on a zip line before swimming into the darkness. The cave rewards those brave enough to venture through the narrow passageway with a bath in the thick oozing mud which sticks to everything it touches. The buoyancy inside the mud chamber is extremely high making for an altogether relaxing feeling of weightlessness. After floating effortlessly in the mud, there is a refreshing river to wash off in before boarding the kayaks for the return journey. The Chay River which feeds into the cave also has some other activities on offer such as an over river obstacle course and a zip line. Being surrounded by such incredible scenery makes any kind of activity seem infinitely more adventurous.
- Eight Lady Cave
Hang Tam Co – Eight Lady Cave is a cave located in Truong Son Mountain on Highway 20 of Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province. In 1972 in the war, when 8 people who hailed from North Vietnam and worked as volunteers for the Vietnamese Army, in their attempt to protect themselves from the bomb attacks on the village, took shelter in one of the caves. A bomb was dropped on that very cave and set in motion a very unfortunate chain of events. The entrance of the cave got blocked due to the massive explosion, with the 8 people stuck inside. They eventually passed away after 9 days and the cave’s entrance was opened with the help of landmines only in 1996, by the Quang Binh government. The cave is called the 8 lady cave, commemorating the sad incident.
- 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. The route through the park stops at the mesmerising Thac Gio Waterfall and the utterly beautiful Vang Anh Lake.
- 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. When in Bong Lai, don’t forget to visit:
The Pub with Cold Beer: Chicken is the specialty of the farm to table experience, with fresh poultry and the beer is cold as advertised!
Wild Boar Eco Farm: They serve cold beer and tasty freshly cooked pork along with other options, but at a more rural setting with views across the river. This is a good place to swim or just hang out in the enormous Vietnamese houses.
Moi Moi Restaurant: Fantastic food options here. It’s a rural setting from the Bong Lai Valley, located on a small farm which develops pepper, watermelons, cassava, and corn along with other crops.
The Duck Stop: Refreshment guaranteed! You can feed the ducks and click some great pictures. Pick some Phong Nha Black Pepper while you’re there.
- Nuoc Mooc Eco Trail
This is a lovely retreat located at a riverside, inside the Phong Nha – Ke Bang Naitonal Park. It has wooden walkways and paths that go over one kilometre through the woods only to be greeted by an incredible confluence of two rivers. You can swim in the crystal clear water and have a great view of the limestone mountain at its back. You’ll also have a chance to kayak on the river and walk across the awesome rope bridge!
See more of What To Do In Phong Nha!
Where to stay in Phong Nha?
When you think of travelling to Phong Nha, you definitely want to spend your time in an accommodation that accentuates your overall travel experience by bringing you closer to the symphony of traditions, food, people and nature.
As you arrive in Phong Nha and look for a place to stay, you’ll be amazed to see the huge range of options to choose from. You can choose your accommodation to be a hostel where you can just kick back, or a homestay where you feel like part of a local family, or a hotel that treats you with the kind of luxury you need, or even a rustic resort accommodation which gives you the authentic Phong Nha travel experience.
Phong Nha travel is indeed special in this regard, as the accommodations here will make sure you have an experience so extraordinary that it makes you want to leave everything behind and spend the rest of your life here in the Adventure Capital of Asia. You would want to check out our top 10 hotels to stay in Phong Nha as well!
Farmstay & Resorts in Phong Nha are not just accommodations, they’re a different experience altogether! Here, you get to soak yourselves in the warmth of Mother Nature and get closer to the culture, while enjoying the luxurious vibe of a resort. Some of these resorts are located slightly away from the town, to make sure you get the most peaceful experience out of it. Let’s imagine relaxing on a pool-side hammock, surrounded by fields and ethnic villages, with a beer in hand as you watch the sunset; the rustic resort accommodations in Phong Nha make this a reality.
You’ll fall in love with the beauty that envelopes these beautiful accommodations in Phong Nha. The most amazing rustic resorts in Phong Nha are Chay Lap Farmstay & Resort, Phong Nha Farmstay, Nguyen Shack – Phong Nha Eco Resort and Phong Nha lakehouse resort. The prices at rustic resorts are usually higher than that of hostels, homestays and hotels; however, the rates are quite reasonable and absolutely worth it.
For many people, a hotel is the first thought that comes to mind when thinking of an accommodation while travelling and rightly so! The hotels in Phong Nha are one of a kind and will give you the perfect taste of luxury and let you sink in the traditional colors; their prices are slightly higher than that of the hostels & homestay. Great news is, the way some of these hotels are designed and located, you’ll be very close to nature and can relax peacefully.
The top hotels in Phong Nha are Oxalis Home, Son Doong Bungalow and Victory road villas. These hotels will give you the best views to wake up to, along with unmatched comfort, professional staff, lip smacking delicious food and fun activities like kayaking!
It’s normal to feel homesick every now and then if you’ve been in your wander boots for long, this is where homestays step in and make your journey beautiful when you’re away from home. Homestays in Phong Nha are extremely popular for their ability to make you feel at home and feel like you have your own cute little family in Vietnam. You’ll get a great insight about the simplistic lifestyle of the Phong Nha locals, as you’ll be spending a lot of time with the local family hosting you.
Almost all the homestays are very affordably priced. The best homestays in Phong Nha are Sy’s Homestay, Thao Nguyen Homestay, Tuan Garden House and Song Que Homestay. These homestays will let you be a part of the family dinners, share stories and laughter.
Phong Nha homestays are growing in number, with each homestay offering quality services to guests. Amongst all these wonderful homestay accommodations coming into the picture, there are some that stole our heart away with their lovely infrastructure, location, facilities and the things they offer.
Check out the newest 9 Homestays in Phong Nha with us!
Hostels are a great accommodation option if you’re travelling with friends! Hostels in Phong Nha are known to have a really lively atmosphere and you’re always sure to find travellers with incredible and inspiring stories. You’ll easily find travellers here from different walks of life and also you’ll also receive a lot of information about Phong Nha, places to visit and things to do. Great thing is, the food and beer is always cheap and the staff at the hostels of Phong Nha is known to be the friendliest. The most popular hostels in Phong Nha are Easy Tiger, Gecko, Shambalaa and Mango Hostel. All these hostels have a wonderful reputation for giving the customers a special and fun accommodation experience; moreover, they are very reasonably priced and easy going.
Check out our Top 10 accommodations in Phong Nha!
How to get to Phong Nha?
The Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park’s popularity has been skyrocketing of late and it has made travelling to Phong Nha much easier than it used to be.
If you have any questions regarding transfers, or need help deciding your best means of transportation before, or after, an Oxalis Adventure tour, please do not hesitate to contact an Oxalis Travel Specialist for their recommendations regarding your travels.
Please be aware that all suggested bus, train and airline companies, and their agencies, operate entirely independently of Oxalis Adventure. The following information is given in good faith, and Oxalis Adventure accepts no responsibility for the service provided by any other company.
Air travel is the fastest way of travelling for anyone who is in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). With less than 2 hours of flying, Dong Hoi city will welcome you in a glimpse. Note that if you choose to fly, then you will have to book an additional transfer from Dong Hoi to Phong Nha. We are happy to offer you a private transfer between Dong Hoi and Phong Nha in a 4-seater car for VND 640,000 each way.
International flights are an important consideration for those travelling from around the world. There are several international airports within Vietnam:
- Hanoi (Noi Bai International Airport)
- Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City (Tan Son Nhat International Airport)
- Da Nang (Da Nang International Airport)
If you fly into Saigon, you will need to take another flight to Dong Hoi Airport to reach us. If you fly into Hanoi, you can reach us by flight, bus or train. From Da Nang, you can reach us by bus or train. Please see more information regarding domestic travel further below.
- Hanoi to /from Phong Nha:
Of course, the fastest mode of transport is to fly direct: Hanoi to Dong Hoi, this is just a 1 hour and 25 minute flight. However, you have to factor in the time traveling to the airport (1 hour from Old Quarters). It is best to check the Vietnam Airlines website or Bamboo Airways ahead of time to ensure an available flight on your desired travel dates. Otherwise, we suggest using the train or bus. Note that if you choose to fly, then you will have to book a transfer from Dong Hoi to Phong Nha.
- Ho Chi Minh City to/from Phong Nha:
A more practical way to journey between Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and Phong Nha is to take a flight with either, Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific or VietjetAir, to Dong Hoi City (located 45 mins drive from Phong Nha). From Dong Hoi, you will need to book an additional transfer to Phong Nha. We are happy to offer you a private transfer between Dong Hoi and Phong Nha in a 4-seater car for VND 640,000 each way.
Bus or train travel from Ho Chi Minh to Phong Nha is not recommended, consider to book your air ticket in advance or book ticket to Hue/Danang and then travel to Phong Nha by bus/train.
Note: For international customers, please note that we cannot advise you regarding border crossings/visa regulations etc., if you are entering or exiting Vietnam by bus or motorcycle.
Travelling by a bus is a great way to meet many travellers going to the same destination as yours! The buses are sleeper-type, air-conditioned, and occasionally have wi-fi, if you are lucky. There is a small toilet at the back of the bus, and you will also make quick stops along the way, where you’ll find basic toilet facilities. Most bus companies stop directly in Phong Nha. Therefore, the bus option is becoming a popular choice among travellers.
(Please be aware that all suggested bus, train and airline companies, and their agencies, operate entirely independently of Oxalis Adventure Tours. The following information is given in good faith, and Oxalis Adventure Tours accepts no responsibility for the service provided by any other company)
- Hanoi to /from Phong Nha:
It is relatively easy to reach Phong Nha from Hanoi, and vice versa. Most bus companies will now stop directly in Phong Nha. Therefore, the bus option is becoming a popular choice among travelers, as it saves on the additional transfer required from Dong Hoi (closest train station and airport to Phong Nha).
- Ninh Binh to/from Phong Nha
Ninh Binh is located on the way from Hanoi to Phong Nha, so you can use the same bus to come to Phong Nha.
- Ha Long to/from Phong Nha
If you’re planning your bus travel from Ha Long, please note that you’ll be dropped at Dong Hoi and not Phong Nha directly. From Dong Hoi, you will need to book an additional transfer to Phong Nha.We are happy to offer you a private transfer between Dong Hoi and Phong Nha in a 4-seater car for VND 640,000 each way.
- Hue to/from Phong Nha
Hue is located just a few hours’ drive from the jungle and caving capital of Vietnam. It is a relatively convenient route with buses of offer from a number of companies.
- Da Nang (Hoi An) to/from Phong Nha:
Da Nang is the biggest city in central Vietnam, with beautiful beaches, mountains and only a 45 min drive from the UNESCO world-heritage town of Hoi An. It is a 7 hour /bus journey between Da Nang and Phong Nha.
Trains are an enjoyable way to travel, and enjoy the sights of the countryside. They are especially comfortable if you purchase a ticket in a soft-sleeper cabin. There are only 4 beds in the cabin, so there is enough room to sit up or lie down. A hard-sleeper cabin does not provide enough room to sit up, and there are 6 beds per room. Overnight trains are also a good option as you not only get somewhere to sleep for a night, but also avoid missing out on one day of adventure.
Unfortunately, train schedules cannot be guaranteed. Therefore, if you plan to join in any 1 day tour, we advise that you travel directly by bus, arriving in Phong Nha, on your tour commencement date. Or, if you choose to fly, or travel by train, you should plan to arrive in Phong Nha 1 day before the tour commences.
We offer private transfers from/to Phong Nha to/from some destination as below
- Dong Hoi City to/from Phong Nha:
Car: 4-seater Price: VND 640,000/car/one-way
Car: 16- seater Price: VND 900,000/car/one-way
Car: 29- seater Price: VND 1,500,000/car/one-way
- Hue to/from Phong Nha:
Car: 4-seater Price: VND 2,500,000/car/one-way
Car: 16- seater Price: VND 2,700,000/car/one-way
Car: 29- seater Price: VND 3,800,000/car/one-way
- Da Nang to/from Phong Nha:
Car: 4-seater Price: VND 3,300,000/car/one-way
Car: 16- seater Price: VND 3,800,000/car/one-way
Car: 29- seater Price: VND 5,400,000/car/one-way
- Hoi An to/from Phong Nha:
Car: 4-seater Price: VND 3,800,000/car/one-way
Car: 16- seater Price: VND 4,400,000/car/one-way
Car: 29- seater Price: VND 6,000,000/car/one-way
Note: Please indicate the number of passengers, when booking a private transfer with us.
See more of How to get to Phong Nha with our Arrival & Departure Guide
Useful Travel Information & Tips
The best way to experience Phong Nha in its true essence is to set off travelling on two wheels, be it a bicycle or a motorcycle. There are bicycle and motorbike rental services provided almost all over town. While in most cases, the staff at your accommodation will help you out in this regard. If you are interested in exploring the national park by motorbike and do not have any previous riding experience, it’s easy to hire a local guide who can take you around (with you riding on the back of his bike). We highly recommend Thang’s Phong Nha Riders: +84 (0) 164 659 0719 – Thang. You also have the option of booking a bus or a cab if you wish to travel to any of the nearby towns or cities like Dong Hoi.
The most common form of taxi in Phong Nha is a “xe ôm”, or motorbike taxi. Most hotels and hostels know the number of a “xe ôm” driver if you are in need of a local taxi. Most drivers do not speak English.
The speciality of Phong Nha, in terms of food, is Thit Nuong (barbeque meat). You can find it almost anywhere in Phong Nha, with choices between chicken, beef and pork. It is served with local flavoured chutney and the taste is absolutely lip-smacking! Apart from Thit Nuong, you can find almost every Vietnamese dish and plenty of options of Western Food, thanks to the numerous restaurants and hotels in the area.
It is not advisable to drink tap water in Phong Nha. Along with the common risks of drinking tap water in a third world country, tap water in Phong Nha contains high amounts of limestone, calcium, and other minerals. Please drink bottled water or boiled water.
NIGHTLIFE & ENTERTAINMENT
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. This is an amazing way to let loose and end your day with fun and frolic! Phong Nha also has various hostels, bars and it even has two cool nightclubs, namely the Andy’s Disco Bar and Hair of the Dog, should you wish to put on your dancing shoes after taking off your trekking boots. Everything is quite cheap and you can expect to spend about 80,000 VND ($4 USD) per hour (excluding drinks).
Travelling to and spending some days in Phong Nha is relatively easy on the pocket, considering the kind of exquisite experiences you’ll have here. That being said, you’ll find ATMs here, namely the Sacombank ATM, Agribank ATM and the Vietinbank ATM. These ATMs accept all international cards, so don’t sweat it. Some shops or restaurants accepts card payment and they might not have change for the big note, 500,000 VND; try carrying small denominations of money while you’re out and about.
The market in Phong Nha is located along the main road, just between the Best BBQ Pork & Noodle Shop in the World and the Phong Nha Tourism Center. The market can seem a little chaotic but it’s worth checking out, especially if there’s anything you need.
Bring small bills with you, and don’t expect anyone to speak English. Everyone in the market is very friendly, but you can expect stares if you are a foreigner. Unfortunately you can also expect that in some places you will receive a “foreigner price”.
Feel free to bargain in the market, and enjoy winding your way through the back of the market where the freshest fruits and veggies lie. The market is best visited around 6 – 9 AM. It is open until about 11 AM, and then closes for a few hours until the afternoon. It opens again around 2 PM and goes until about 6 PM (hours vary at different times of year and at shop vendors’ discretion). You will be able to find basic things such as hats, socks, flip-flops, raincoat, snacks, etc but not proper trekking clothes.
Do yourself a favor and pop into one of our Oxalis Adventure offices (downtown or by the riverside), where you can pick up a decent map of the area. Our friendly staff will be happy to point out to you popular places to eat, what to do, and can explain to you more about the must-sees of the area.
Phong Nha is unlike any other place and your travel experience here will be the safest you ever had. The whole of Phong Nha lives like one big family and are extremely respectful and friendly towards tourists. The locals have your back at all times and they’ll go to any extent to protect you and your interests in all kinds of ways. Here are the emergency telephone numbers (the country code is +84):
113 – Police 115 – Fire 114 – Ambulance
Phong Nha Police Station: +84 (0)232 3677009
Đồng Hới Police Station: +84(0)232 3822142
Quảng Bình Immigration Office: +84(0)232 3828648
Only very basic medical care is available in Phong Nha, mostly for common ailments. There is a small medical clinic located near the entrance of the town (no English spoken at the clinic). If you are in need of more serious medical care, you will need to move to Dong Hoi Cuba Hospital (1 hour transfer) or even Hue International Hospital (4 hour transfer). The locals would not let you feel alone in a time like that and they’ll make sure you get medical attention as soon as possible.
Phong Nha Hospital (more like a medical clinic) phone number: +84 (0)232 3677047
There is several pharmacies located near the market, just off to the left. It is open from 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM and sells basic medicine for flu, headache, stomachache, iodine, but very little for urgent or serious medical care.
Rainy season usually starts around mid-September and persists until mid-November every year and extreme weather might happen especially floods. Floodwaters remain high for up to a week at a time. Some of the tourism activities are closed in this time of the year so make sure to check the weather forecast and the tour operators prior to traveling to Phong Nha at this time. There are some tour operators that run tours even during this season. We, however, don’t recommend it at all and will not be running any adventure tours during this time.
There are several major holidays in Vietnam:
February 2 – 10 February 2019: Tet Holiday 2019 (varies from year to year depending on the lunar calendar)
April 30: Reunification Celebration
May 1: Labor Day
September 2: Independence Day
Please note that transportation is extremely difficult to arrange around major holidays, especially Tet. You must arrange up to one month in advance or you will be paying premium prices for private transfers or possibly end up getting stuck in town if you don’t have any transport arranged. There are plenty of accommodations and shops open around town during Tet Holiday and you’ll have an unforgettable experience if you are lucky enough to be invited into the home of a local family, which is quite likely to happen!
And if you have any specific questions regarding local customs prior to a trip to Phong Nha, you can always contact our friendly local travel specialists here at Oxalis who would be happy to help answer your questions or ease your concerns by drop us a message on the website or an email to [email protected]