Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park Headquarter
Next day began with a journey to the Phong Nha National Park as we were preparing to go on the Hang Va cave expedition, organised by Oxalis adventures. Oxalis Adventures is the only agency in Vietnam that has the government's approval and expertise to run these expeditions.
Son Doong Cave Eta Phong Nha Fun Parker Nazionala
Hang Va cave is part of the world's largest cave, the Son Doong Cave system. The caves were used by the Vietnamese soldiers to hide and protect themselves during the Vietnam war. The Hang Va and Nuoc Nut cave expedition is an unforgettable experience where you come across beautiful formations, enormous passage and an underground river. This requires you to be physically fit and mentally strong. If you know swimming, that's even better. After a brief swim through the cave, we trekked on the jungle path with a very bad/difficult terrain and sharp limestone rocks. The jungle campsite was located at the base of huge cliffs next to the entrance of Hang Va Cave. This is a true jungle camp and a great experience with the sounds of water gushing through the caves on one side and the jungle noises on the other. Even the food prepared by the local chefs was a full-course meal with every type of meat on the table. On the next day, we were given harnesses to wade through the slippery path before we entered the Hang Va Cave. This included walking most of the time in water flowing through the river passage, climb up and down, and squeeze between the rocks, falling and getting back up. It was about 5 hours of wading through the waters within the cave, which can be physically draining. Apart from this, inside the cave, we were also asked to rappel using our harnesses from one rock to another to see the cone caves inside. The best part of the whole expedition was that the guide and the porters were giving us enough time, creating the perfect lighting to click pictures. After a strenuous inside-cave experience, we had lunch at the camp and took a different, difficult path to the exit. The way was paved by slippery slopes, river streams and blood-sucking leeches finding their way into our shoes. The feeling of finishing the cave expedition was inexplicable. Feeling the sun on my face again, the fact that I could complete it and walk out, was just out of the world. Every problem felt small in front of it. The cave expedition taught me a great deal of things, for good. This has been the most memorable part of my Vietnam trip. My friend and I spent the day feeling thankful to be alive. The feeling still hand't sunk in and we celebrated our survival over dinner at the local pub called 27cm in Dong Hoi. The pub had no crowd and the owners were sweet enough to give us the freedom to play the music we wanted. That truly was liberating in another country. We left Dong Hoi with a heavy heart as that was our favourite city. From there, we headed to Hue which is around 4 hours from Dong Hoi by bus. Hue has a history of witnessing one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War. Hue's main attraction is the Imperial Citadel which occupies almost half of the city. The Citadel was the home of the emperor of the Nyugen Dynasty. (You will need at least 3 hours to complete the tour of the Citadel). The City has a few parks and good urban life and attracts a lot of tourists. We discovered an Indian Restaurant in this city - Shiva Shakti India Restaurant. A must visit if you're craving for Indian food there. While this included our city visit of Hue, we lived in a resort built on a lagoon. This was the perfect way to end our holiday as we were surrounded by water and had to use cycles to move from one place to another. On the last day again, we headed to Hanoi and spent the evening shopping on the streets of Hanoi. You can bargain well with them. So, if you have good bargaining skills, use them to the maximum. One of the major hassles we had while heading to the interiors of Vietnam was language. If you are using a local sim, Google translate will come in handy to interact with locals. P.S. Our trip has been restricted to Northern Vietnam. We left out Hoi An and Danang in the north and chose Hue. Ho Chi Minh City, Mui Ne sand dunes, Phu Quoc in the South are traveller's favourites too. Don't forget to ask the locals to play some Vietnamese music on your way to different places. It's melodious.(My favourite Vietnamese song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAzT3TjRnws) On the whole, this trip has been an eye-opener for me in many ways. It has opened up several doors for me. Vietnam is a beautiful country that has to be on your list if you're a nature lover. I hope to keep continuing this journey through different countries. Cheers!
reached dong hoi at 7 am. Take a taxi or bus whatever is convenient to Phong Nha National park. I took a cab bcz bus was not available. Reached phong nha after 1.30hrs by taxi. Take a hostel. Get ready for boat trip to phong nha cave magnificent cave must visit. Return after 3 hrs thn i took a bicycle tour to nearby cafe it was fun. Then overnight in hostel.
We then booked a direct night bus from the hostel to Sơn Trạch, the village with Phong Nha caves. When booked at Google Hostel you got a free night accommodation without paying more for the bus ticket. But we actually booked another Hostel when we arrived as the free hostel was not the nicest. They also sell motorbike rental service where you drive the scenic route down to Hoi An and get you baggage sent there to be collected when you return bike in Hoi An.
+ Vietnam has so many beautiful towns to visit and to live in. Dalat was a beautiful hill-station. Hoi An is a place where time slows down. Phong Nha has some of the biggest caves on earth. Hue is nice old town. We still did not visit Mui Ne and Nha Trang and Mekong Delta. Hopefully in our next trip we will. Selling Bikes in Saigon:
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
Day 8 Visit Paradise Cave – Dark Cave - Hue (BL) Am: Having breakfast with Homestay family. You will take a kayaking route for more interesting and exciting trip. You begin to kayak at Rustic Chay Lap on the Tro Oc River and on 1.3 kilometers, then steering right into the Chay River and passing Chay Lap Village on the right. You will reach Dark Cave on the left of river to discover this beautiful cave which is the part of Phong Nha Cave System with the special green color water and so cold. Here is the chance for you to admire and get closer at close Range Station looking up from its mouth in a kayak. Kayak back on the river and past the Ranger Station, the water is still as you glide along the valley river. Have lunch at restaurant Pm: This afternoon, the guide will take you to visit “ Thien Duong Cave” or called Paradise Cave on Ho Chi Minh West Branch Trail. En route you have the chance to admire the imposing rock mountains that gives you the impressions. The Paradise Cave is a dry cave and appreciated the most stunning cave in Phong Nha Caves System because of its size and unique making a deep impression for the visitors. To get inside the cave you will be on golf car transfer 2 km and pass through rare trees to discover the great structure and the stalactites and stalagmites inside. All these are the creation of nature, only the 1.1 kilometers wooden pathway through the cave were man-made. After that you leave Quang Binh for Hue city. On arrival, check in hotel. Free to have your own dinner. Overnight at hotel.
The Paradise cave (opened to public in 2011) can be best reached by a motorbike – a number of options available to rent one in about 100,000 VND- the roads can get slippery due to the rain so make sure you ride around the area only if you are sure of your riding skills. Another cave that you can (and must) visit on your own is the Dark Cave here you zip-line your way inside the caves, get real muddy walking your way through it, wash off in the river and kayak your way out on the land- sounds amazing isn’t it?Other things to do:Apart from the above mentioned caves there are a number of cave system that are not advisable to reach without a tour operator since the park has one of the highest concentration of unexploded ordnance in the world. You can take one of the tours to the Tu Lan cave or Son Doong cave – I recommend taking an overnight tour to these caves as a lot of time goes in hiking through the jungle to reach them also camping in the caves would be closest to a magical experience.The national park has to offer one of the hardest eco trail and a large number of fauna & flora, one can hike their way to a new adventure. And at the end of the adrenaline packed day you can choose to relax by the Mountain River Café, order special chocolate coffee and let the mesmerizing beauty of Phong Nha Ke Bnag leave you breathless.I would love to know about your experience in Phong Nha and suggestions. If you want more information feel free to comment, or write to me.Happy Travelling!This travelogue was first published by https://khyatimaloo.wordpress.com/