Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is home to astonishing caves and natural wonders, making it a hugely attractive destination for adventurers as well as nature lovers. The world’s biggest and third biggest caves are located in Phong Nha Ke Bang along with other noteworthy caves hosting a variety of expeditions for all age groups.
Unless you have plenty of days here to explore each and every one of the activities and caves here, you’ll probably need a guidance to study and pick the best options and things to do to make the most out of your time in Phong Nha. So below is the list of caves and other attractions with brief introduction to help you with planning.
Paradise Cave (Hang Thiên Đường)
I was told that Paradise cave is known as the most beautiful cave in the region and had been known as the world’s biggest cave until Son Doong cave was discovered in 2009. The entire length of Paradise cave is 31km, but only the first kilometre is open to the public and that is enough to take in the full glory of all the majestic shapes and formations beautifully lit throughout the wooden rail. There’s quite a long walk up to reach the entrance and a steep staircase down from the entrance, so be prepared for some exercise, which will be rewarded with the cave’s allure.
Phong Nha Cave (Động Phong Nha) & Tien Son Cave (Động Tiên Sơn)
Another acclaimed cave on top of the list of caves here is Phong Nha cave from which you can access Tien Son cave. The visit to these caves requires a peaceful and scenic boat ride on Chay river leading to the world’s longest underground river. You can sit on the boat rowed by a professional local and enjoy the glorious stalactites from above your head. There’s 500m in the cave after the boat ride to explore on foot and you can choose to visit another 200m up to the Tien Son cave from there before returning with the boat.
Dark Cave (Hang Tối)
As the name suggests, Dark cave is literally dark without any artificial lightings. So the entire excursion is lit and guided by a torch on your helmet lighting your way. This cave is perfect for those looking for a more conventional adventure such as kayaking and zip-lining and willing to be soaked in mud and swim it off at the river. It is advised not to visit this cave if you have claustrophobia, so beware.
En Cave (Hang Én)
The world’s third largest cave, Hang En or Swallow cave is for more serious adventurers seeking to dive into the untouched wildlife and get closer to the mysterious and miraculous nature. Expedition to Hang En is organised by tour companies and the programme is for 2 days and 1 night including an extraordinary overnight camping by the river inside. You should be fit and prepared to trek long hours in the jungle.
Son Doong Cave (Hang Sơn Đoòng)
The world’s largest cave was first discovered in 1991, explored by British Cave Research Association in 2009 and open to the public in 2013. Son Doong cave exploration is organised by Oxalis, which is the only tour operator certified to lead trekking trips in this cave. They offer a 4-day tour in this cave, which includes an overnight at Hang En cave because of its proximity to Son Doong cave. It is only for those very physically active people who are capable of extreme activities such as rope climbs, multiple river crossings and many more. People say the expedition in this cave is a life-changing and once in a lifetime experience.
Other Natural Wonders
Phong Nha Botanic Garden
The Botanic Garden in Phong Nha is a heaven of wildlife and you can admire diverse flora and species in complete serenity. It is home to Gio waterfall and Vang Anh lake where you can dive in for swimming in the blue water. The visit to the garden is considered a mild to moderate activity and there are three different routes to take ranging from 30-minute to 3 hours.
Mooc Spring Eco Trail
Mooc Spring or Nuoc Mooc is a fantastic place for swimming in the natural spring and for a light stroll on bamboo bridges over the water. There are pristine lagoons, greens and water activities such as a diving bridge, inflated boats and kayaks to enjoy in tranquility. Because the water is super cool and refreshing, it is a perfect spot to spend an afternoon during summer especially after a visit to Paradise cave.
Bong Lai Valley
A very relaxing, memorable and fun way to enjoy a scenic drive or walk around rural areas of Phong Nha – Ke Bang would be to do a tour of Bong Lai Valley. It is a route on which several local families and farms are located and open for visitors to come in for authentic local food, fresh cold beer and a great time! You can rent a motorbike, bicycle or an easy rider to drive you. Walking is also possible if you’re a passionate walker and it’s 12km round trip. For more details of this valley, check this page from Phong Nha Farmstay.