Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng
Chào bạn! A 12-hour train ride is something you should do just once in your life. I did one in China and it’s no fun. For time management reasons, I prefer to fly within a country, unless the train system is well developed and fast. From Hanoi, in the North of Vietnam, it is a bit over 500km to get to Central Vietnam. Of course, you can still take the train or the sleeping bus. It’s cheaper but also takes 10 hours. We flew with Vietnam Airlines approximately an hour from Hanoi to Dong Hoi. From there, we went straight into the Nationalpark Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng – beautiful landscape, simple villages and a looot of caves (we visited two of them!). Luckily we also had some free time. The region is perfect to relax. I took my favorite photographs there! I wish we had more time in Phong Nha-Ke Bang.
Hotel-Tipps at Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng
Budget BeHome HomeStay
Normal Sai Gon Phong Nha Hotel (we stayed here, which I recommend!)
The early bird GETS THE WORM!
Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng
One thing was immediately apparent: I had to bite into the bullet one morning and get up very early. My alarm rang around 5:30 and I strolled through the sleepy Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng. Sleepy? Not at all. The street was already filled with people. In the early morning, it was a lot hotter and humid than I thought. Flip flops weren’t the best shoes to wear! Hello blisters! After a 20-minute walk I finally reached the bridge, which our tour guide recommended.I reached it right for the sunrise. Behind me, noisy cars and motorcycles were passing, in front of me, there was a beautiful view onto the river and a small fishing boat. The street radio was playing Vietnamese pop music, which I ignored to enjoy the sight. The sun appeared behind the clouds just in the right moment. You’ll see the picture below!
Of course, a few pictures in the rice fields are a must! In the next picture, you’ll also see a Vietnamese cemetery. Only for pictures like that I would have needed more time in the province.
After my cave fail at Ha Long Bay, the Paradise cave at Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng, also called Dong Thien Duong cave, was very impressive. Apparently, guides recommend the bigger Phong Nha Cave but a visit of the Paradise Cave is more beautiful. To get to the cave, you need approximately 30 minutes on foot. People were already waiting in front of the cave. It was recommended to become acclimatized before entering the cave. They take special care that not too many people enter the cave. The cave itself is beautifully highlighted with simple lights (not colored ones) and nearly each stop was special. Apparently a British cave explorer found out that it is 31km long. You can explore the first kilometer on a wooden path.
- You can also book the 7-kilometer tour, which leads through an underwater tunnel and you’ll be having lunch unter a light shaft. However, the tour is a little bit more advanced!
Another highlight were the butterfly swarms. I found them a couple of times sitting in groups. It was such a beautiful moment. I will show you more in my travel video!
Tu Lan Cave
If you are looking for a more adventurous cave visit, I recommend a tour of Tu Lan Cave. You’ll only be equipped with headlights and will be led through the dark cave.
- Get more information of the tour here! It is organized by Oxalis Adventure!
Yen Phu Lake
Last but not least, we visited the last filming spot of the newest King Kong movie – the Yen Phu Lake. The lake is a little bit more difficult to find. Luckily, the GPS of my camera worked perfectly and I’ve marked the position here in my Google Map. By the time we visited, the lake didn’t have so much water. It is located approximately one hour away from Phong Nha Ke Bang. If you’re in the area, you should visit it, but I wouldn’t specifically drive there.
From Dong Hoi, I flew to Saigon, also called Ho Chi Minh City. Due to the public holiday and my super late booking, most of the flights to Da Nang were fully booked. It would have made more sense to fly there first. The flights to Saigon were still payable. Quite expensive for Vietname prices, but ok. But who knows when I’ll be back in Vietnam. #onceinalifetime. Otherwise, I would have flewn to Đà Nẵng first and then down to Hoi An.
Find an overview of all Vietnam entries here:
- From Hanoi to the famous Ha Long Bay
- Ninh Bình – the North & Southeast-Asia’s most famous Pagoda
- Central Vietnam – most scenic morning & a sea of butterflies
- Ho Chi Minh City: The pink church & how much textile fits in a trolley
- Hoi An: the mecca for tailoring & the best Banh Mi Phuong
- Back in Hanoi & the nightlife at Bia Hoi Street