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Phong Nha Ke Bang: Discover the Adventure Capital of Vietnam

May 25, 2022
8 Min Read
Rice fields with mountains in the background. Phong Nha, Vietnam

Phong Nha Ke Bang: Discover the Adventure Capital of Vietnam

Explore the majestic caves, cycle around the valley, and stroll through lush green paddies with this complete guide to discovering Phong Nha-Ke Bang in Vietnam.

May 25, 2022
8 Min Read
Rice fields with mountains in the background. Phong Nha, Vietnam
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Phong Nha Ke Bang: Discover the Adventure Capital of Vietnam
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Phong Nha - Ke Bang is a national park in Vietnam's Quang Binh Province. It is a land of magnificent caves and an adventurer's dream. Phong Nha is home to some of Vietnam's most spectacular cave systems, including the world's largest cave, Son Doong Cave!

Phong Nha is definitely a must-see on any Vietnam itinerary. Explore the caves, cycle around the valley, and stroll through Phong Nha's lush green paddies. This ultimate guide to discovering Phong Nha - Ke Bang national park contains all of the information you need to help you plan your trip. We've also compiled a list of the top things to do in Phong Nha, including where to stay and when to go.

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How to Get to Phong Nha 

By Plane

Dong Hoi Airport is the closest airport to Phong Nha. There are numerous taxis waiting outside the airport for various prices. The drive takes about 50 minutes, and the fare should be around 600,000 VND (25 USD).

Tip: You can arrange a pick-up with Oxalis if you book your cave tour with them. This is ideal if you have a large group because they will pick you up in a van.

Bird-eye view of Phong Nha, Vietnam

By Train

The nearest train station from Phong Nha is at Dong Hoi Rail Station. You can book your tickets on 12go.asia or at your hotel and try to take the overnight train to save money on lodging. 

From Dong Hoi Rail Station, you can take the B4 bus across to Ben Xe Nam Ly bus station. It is around 15 minutes' walk from the rail station, or you can take a short 5 minute taxi for 30,000 VND (1.30 USD). Take the bus to Phong Nha from the bus station, which takes about 1.5 hours and costs 50,000 VND (2.20 USD).

For added convenience, you can take a taxi which will take about an hour, and you'll pay at least 400,000 VND (18 USD).

A river in Phong Na with mountains in the background.

By Bus

There are daily buses heading to Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park. Depending on where you’re leaving from, taking a bus can be the cheapest option to reach the main town in Phong Nha. Inquire and book your tickets with your accommodation. 

If you’re coming from Ninh Binh, the drive takes approximately 7 to 7.5 hours depending on traffic. A bus ticket should cost around 295,000 VND (13 USD). The bus will also drop you off on Phong Nha's main street, where the majority of the accommodations are located.

Tip: The night bus departs between 10 and 10:30 p.m. and arrives between 3 and 5 a.m. Our best advice is to book a room the night before your arrival. Some accommodations may allow you to check in before the usual check-in time, while others do not. Having a guaranteed room upon arrival will allow you to get a few extra hours of sleep so you can enjoy a full day of exploring.

A woman paddles along a river in Phong Nha, Vietnam

Where to Stay in Phong Nha

The majority of the accommodations are located on Phong Nha's main street. If you want to be close to most of the restaurants and eateries, you should stay near the cave ticket office. If you want somewhere more local and quiet, choose a place to stay near the river around this area.

Here are our recommended places to stay in Phong Nha:

  • Tam’s Homestay

Budget (12 - 15 USD)

Check Availability

  • Carambola Bungalow

Mid-Range (19 - 30 USD)

Check Availability

  • Chay Lap Farmstay

High-End (50 - 100 USD)

Check Availability

Things to Do in Phong Nha

Many experiences await you in this adventurer's paradise in Vietnam. If you simply want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the larger cities, then you can also just relax in this small town.

1. Go Cave Hopping

The caves are the main reason to visit Phong Nha. So, go on as many Phong Nha cave tours as you can do and afford! For your reference, we’ve listed down the most popular caves to visit in Phong Nha below.

Phong Nha Cave and Tien Son Cave are open to visitors daily from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. A ticket to Phong Nha cave costs 150,000 VND (7 USD), while it costs 80,000 VND (3.50 USD) to visit Tien Son. Besides the entrance fee, you will also need to hire a boat to access these caves, which can be shared between up to 12 passengers. You can combine a boat fee for Phong Nha and Tien Son cave for 400,000 VND (17.60 USD)

Blue boats in front of the entrance of Phong Nha Cave, Vietnam

Paradise Cave and Dark Cave  are located farther from the main town, and you will need to rent a motorbike or arrange a car to reach them. They are also open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. A ticket to Paradise Cave costs 250,000 VND (11.50 USD), while a ticket to Dark Cave costs 450,000 VND (19.80 USD). There is also a waterpark included in the Dark Cave ticket, which you can enjoy after exploring the cave. 

Rock formations inside a cave near Phong Nha, Vietnam

The bigger cave systems in Phong Nha are Son Doong Cave, which is the biggest cave in the world, and the Tu Lan Cave System. Because of its complexity and size, you can explore each cave on multiple days. However, you will need to book a tour, and the only company that operates in these caves is Oxalis Adventure.

We recommend booking your Oxalis tour in advance because they sell out quickly. The Tu Lan Cave System can be explored on a full-day to 4-night tour, with prices starting at 1,600,000 VND (70 USD). While, the Son Doong Cave tour costs 69,800,000 VND (3000 USD) for four nights.‍

For more information, check out Oxalis tours and updated prices on their website.

Read: Explore the Tu Lan Cave with Oxalis

People on a raft inside a cave in Phong Nha, Vietnam

2. Visit the Duck Stop

If you’re not exploring caves, this charming little farm should be on your list. It is a local family farm that offers great hospitality and farm-to-table food. As the name suggests, you also get an opportunity to tend to hundreds of ducks on the farm! The Duck Stop costs 150,000 VND (6.50 USD) per person. 

A woman sits on a buffalo in Phong Nha, Vietnam.

3. Cycle Around Bong Lai Valley

Discover the valley as you go around the farms and small villages and get a glimpse of how the locals live. This is a great activity if you want to take a break from exploring caves.

A woman ride a bicycle in between rice fields in Phong Nha, Vietnam

4. Visit Bomb Crater Bar

Relax and unwind at the Bomb Crater Bar. The bar is best visited near sunset because it is located next to a river and has an amazing view. They also serve delicious food and cold beer.

Rice fields with mountains in the background. Phong Nha, Vietnam

5. Have Coffee at Tree House Cafe

In the morning, stop by Tree House Cafe for a cup of fresh coffee to kick off your day of exploring. They have a lovely patio where you can sit. Breakfast is limited, but they also offer a variety of pizzas for dinner. On our visit, we didn't get to try their pizzas, but we did try their egg and bread for breakfast, which was filling but nothing out of the ordinary. However, the coffee was great, and the prices were reasonable. 

Treehouse coffeeshop in Phong Nha, Vietnam

6. Dine at Len Con Peak

Len Con Peak has an unbeatable atmosphere due to its location between a mountain and a rice field. Not only are the breathtaking views worth visiting this restaurant for, but so is the excellent food, which is also reasonably priced. We recommend ordering their steamed river fish and grilled chicken.

Fish for dinner at Len Con  Peak, Phong Nha, Vietnam

7. Explore the Botanical Garden

We didn't get to visit the Phong Nha Botanical Garden, but we've heard great things about it. It is also one of the most popular activities in the area. So, if you have time, go to the Botanical Garden and admire the lush tropical forest landscape, Gio waterfall, and Vang Anh Lake. The Botanical Garden is more of a moderate hike than a garden itself. So, wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk on some slippery and rocky paths.

The Phong Nha Botanical Garden is open from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The entrance fee for adults is 40,000 VND (1.70 USD) and 20,000 VND (0.87 USD) for children.

Bird-eye view of Phong Nha, Vietnam

When to Visit Phong Nha

The best time to visit Phong Nha is during the dry season from January to August. Avoid visiting during the rainy season in the months of September to December. Most tours don’t operate during these months because the caves get flooded. So before you go, make sure to check the weather, as some light rain may also cause cave closures. 

A woman in Phong Nha feeds her buffalos grass. In the background we see mountains.

How to Get Around Phong Nha

You can walk through Phong Nha's main town and discover the rows of restaurants and eateries. Most accommodations have bicycles for rent that you can use to discover the beauty of the countryside. It is ideal for short distances and if you are not comfortable driving a motorcycle. Otherwise, renting a motorbike is the best way to explore the surrounding area of Phong Nha. The majority of the roads are paved, making them an excellent way to reach further caves.

Bird-eye view of Phong Nha, Vietnam

Top Tips for Visiting Phong Nha

  1. Before traveling to Phong Nha, check the weather forecast. Avoid going during the rainy season as the caves will be inaccessible. 
  1. Remember to bring sunscreen and mosquito repellent!
  1. If you want to visit Phong Nha Cave, arrive early to avoid the crowds. 
  1. If you're taking the bus and arriving early in the morning, reserve your room the night before.
  1. There are a few ATM machines in the town. Two are located on the road opposite the cave ticket office. 
  1. Plan your cave expeditions ahead of time, especially if you want to explore the larger cave systems like Son Doong and Tu Lan. Only Oxalis has the right to explore these caves, and they fill up quickly.

A man rides a motorbike along a road surrounded by vegetation in Phong Nha, Vietnam

Now you are ready to explore the adventure paradise of Vietnam. 

We hope that this guide will assist you in making the most of your visit to Phong Nha. If you haven't been thinking about visiting, let this be your motivation. It's a lovely place with plenty of natural beauty to make the trip worthwhile. It's also a great place to unwind and take in the scenery.

Let us know if you have any questions in the comments section below!

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