Phong Nha-ke Bang National Park Ultimate Guide
The Phong Nha-Ke Bang Nation Park caves is the best I have ever seen and this is one of Vietnam’s most unique and best places to visit! If you’re planning on doing a backpacking tour in Vietnam, then you have to visit this awesome UNESCO-listed national park. This is the only to truly admire the wonders of the colossal Hang Son Doong (Son Doong Cave). Also, this sunning destination in Vietnam doesn’t just have caves, there is also miles of jungle and underground rivers. If you don’t to get there yourself, you can book a Phong Nha National Park tour!
It’s no wonder this jaw-dropping setting was used for the Hollywood movie Kong: Skull Island. A day exploring the Phong Nha Park will blow your mind! You will find the world’s 3rd largest cave in Phong Nha which is Hang Son Doong.
Take a journey into Vietnam’s jungle paradise and be amazed with the King Kong styled scenery. Phong Nah-Ke bang National Park is just a single 5km road, that takes you through the many home-stays, restaurants, coffee shops and tour businesses. From the moment we arrived we was astonished by the vibrant green mountains standing powerfully on the edge of the somewhat deserted roads.
Let’s look what’s included in this post for you;
- Get from Dong Hoi to Phong Nha
- Where to stay at Phong Nha
- Phong Nha Hostels
- Best things to do in Phong Nha
- get from Phong Nha National Park to Hanoi
- Where to eat in the National park
- Tips and facts
- final thoughts
How to get from Dong Hoi to the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
There’s a local bus from Dong Hoi to the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. The bus route number is B4. It leaves Dong Hoi at the following times: 05.20, 06.00, 07.10, 08.00 and then on the hour every hour and finishes at 17.00. However, there is no bus at 12.00.
The route it takes: Drives the length of Truong Phap,onto Nguyen Du, right into Tran hung Dao, right into To Huu, past Nam Ly bus station, past the airport and onward to Phong Nha.
There are numerous bus stops along this route and look out for the blue signs with a bus and B4 written on it. Also, the bus doesn’t call at the bus station, it picks up passengers outside. Just wave it down, jump on and pay on the bus.
The bus from Dong Hoi to Phong Nha takes approx 90mins.
The price of the bus ticket: (33,000 vnd per person).
Where to stay at Phong Nha-ke Bang national park?
I could follow the travel blog crowd here and copy and past some trip-advisor highly recommended places to stay, but I’m not going to do that. I want to share with you my own experience of a sweet backpackers home stay located in the centre of the amazing Phong Bang National Park. We was greeted by a sweet-old-Vietnamese lady, she so reminded you of a Disney film grandma. Just a Vietnamese style grandma that doesn’t speak much English. She ran the home-stay and made us feel very welcome from the off.
The reception floor is an open-plan area with the restaurant’s table and chairs. This is where you sit to have your free breakfast and it is a very good breakfast that will set you up nicely for a day of cave exploration. In addition, there is also free sweets in the reception desk (who doesn’t enjoy a sweet).
After check in you make your way to your semi-luxurious room, by this I mean it’s a great room for a backpacker with all the necessities. Once in the room open your curtains and the magic happens. Stunning views of the Nha-Ke Bang Park mountains and all from the comfort of your own bed. Also, your hotel in Phong Nha will book the Phong Nha National Park tour for you.
So let’s wrap this place up! You get lovely Vietnamese staff that will go out the way to make for a pleasant stay. You have free breakfast, which is tasty, will fill you up and comes with a drink (the coffee is good). You have amazing views of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang Park area and to top it off, it’s in a very good location to access everything.
The must stay place in Phong Nha – Mountain View Home-stay
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Phong Nha Hostels
If you’re backpacking you may find this section more useful, or you may find it useful if you just want to save some money on accomodation. I want to share with you a list of hostels in Phong Nha. Let’s have a look at the list.
The Best Things To Do Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
Visit the most famous caves in Vietnam’s Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
Okay, Phong Nah is famous for the caves it gives home to. So, obviously you going to have to discover some of the amazing caves that are available with the day excursions. Even if you’re not a big fan of caves they’re are worth seeing and there is other activities included.
You have a few options with the caves. For example, each day excursion for the caves consists of a visit to 2 caves, these you have a choice of. We picked the dark cave and paradise cave.
This is one of the best Phong Nha caves to visit. It’s not as big as the Hang Son cave but it’s awesome.
To reach this cave you will trudge up roughly 1km worth of steps to the entrance of the cave. From here you will begin your Paradise Cave visit. Furthermore, this was a great cave that you will embark on a 1.5km walk into the cave and then will follow the same path back.
However, the paradise cave is very popular among tourists looking for an awesome Phong Nha adventure tour, in fact its more than just popular the cave was flooded with tourists. Most of them being Chinese and loud. O well, it’s still with the visit to see the crazy formations that have formed from millions of years of erosion. After the first 2 hours of transport and visiting the paradise cave, we made our way to visit the dark cave.
This was definitely our favourite and most fun. You reach the cave by zip lining down like something of an Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie. If this sounds to much you can Kayak your way to Phong Nah-Ke Bang National Park’s Dark Cave. I preferred the first option but each to there own. Forgot to mention first you are given Safety hats with a torch mounted on them, this will light the way in the gloomy blackness of the Phong Nah’s dark cave.
Some tourists prefer this cave in Phong Nha to the Hang Son cave. To be fair it’s really cool!
Inside the cave you walk for 10 minutes deeper into the cave. Now in pitch blackness apart from the shimmers of light from the groups torches. After 10 minutes we reached our stop point which is crazy enough a mud bath, erm yeah we went for a mud bath in the cave. Not on many people’s bucket list but to be fair it was fun and everyone was laughing. After the skin cleansing mud bath we made our way back to entrance, which leads to the lagoon. From here you spend an hour doing watersports and water assault courses. All mega fun. After the fun bit you will be served food. Mmmmmm plenty of real tasty Bbq meat.
Overall an epic day visiting two of Phong Nah’s most famous caves. You do have the option of some more caves, but we had more than enough fun in the paradise and dark caves.
Bong Lai Valley
The Bong Lais Valley is an epic journey you can do that to visit some of the local villages and farms in Phong Nha National Park. The Bong Lai Valley is a 12k round-trip hike turnaround.
We had a scooter to do the drive through this awesome place. However, you can do it on a bicycle, if you have got the energy! Also, you can do the Bong Lai Valley hike if you want to. But the trek will take some solid hours.
Along the way you will see some really top places in Phong Nha such as;
- Moi Moi
- Pepperhouse homestay
- Wild boar eco farm
- Bong Lai Rattan House
Hang Son Doong
We wasn’t lucky enough to visit this shopping sized cave and our backpacking funds probably wouldn’t cover it. The Son Doong cave tour price is $3000 you can trek 50km to this mammoth of a cave. It is up there as one of the largest caves in the world.
However, this tour isn’t for everybody and a certain level of fitness is required. Our Dark cave tour guide explained to us that there is a 12 month waiting list for this trek. Nevertheless, if this is something for you then I would definitely recommend it. I have heard a lot of epic feedback about it in Phong Nha.
What’s awesome about this is the Hang Doong is the world’s 3rd largest cave!
Hire a scooter and visit the Phong Nha’s crazy Duck Stop
This was a very random experience, nevertheless we had a lot of fun and created a memory of this whacky few hours. We visited The Duck Stop due to recommendations on trip-adviser. Upon arrival (on this mini farm type is what I can describe it as) we was given two options.
Option 1 – Feed the ducks, food and ride on Donald Trump the water buffalo.
Option 2 – Same but without food, we chose this option
Anyway, we went in to the ducks with our Vietnamese hats on and for 10 minutes we fed the ducks out of our hands, fed them out of our feet (strange, we was crying laughing) and hugging the ducks. Amazing. The next stop was the Donald Trump ride, I don’t know why this name was chosen? We got some cool pics on this beast and enjoyed the few minute ride. This is basically all you get a few minutes ride on a water buffalo, with pictures. On your own phone,
After all the fun we hung about due to the rain, 3 hours we stayed rain stranded. However, we had a cool time teaching the kids English and showing the Duck Stop staff how to correctly set up an Instagram to help promote their business. As a result, this was one of the craziest most memorable experiences done in Southeast Asia as I write this.
Visit the Botanic gardens in Phong Nah-Ke Bang National Park
See yourself as a death-defying jungle trekker? Well maybe not death-defying, more like just risk from mosquito bites and not a vast jungle. Visit the Botanic Gardens and pick your trek distance from either 3km, 2km or 1km. Enjoy a mini trek that passes through rockery, overgrown trees and amazing waterfalls. In addition, you get to rock climb up the waterfalls using just a rope left for you to attend at your own will. Don’t worry it’s not to steep, however it’s won’t be suited to everybody.
After the sweaty, dehydrating walk you will probably be thirsty and a little hungry. Lucky enough there is a cafe serving food and drink at the entrance to Phong Nha’s Botanic gardens. The selection of food and drink is cheap and the local Vietnamese meals are even cheaper.
Cost of the Phong Nha botanic gardens – 45,000 vdk per person
Hire a scooter and drive through Phong Nah-Ke Bang National Park
This one opens your eyes to the true beauty of the Phong Nha historic National Park. I was in absolute awe when I saw these unbelievable sites of Phong Nha, I could of crashed the scooter for wanting to stare at these green giants of mountains.
Enjoy quite windy roads as you tour a 3/4 loop from the centre of Phong Nha, through the mountains and then finishing off where you started.
This is a truly amazing experience and costing very little out of your budget. Also, you can use a bicycle and just shorten the journey down. You will still get to see some amazing spots and be able to take some life memorable photos.
How to get from Phong Nha National Park to Hanoi?
Getting from Phong Nha to Hanoi is an easy but long journey. However, you can get a night bus that will take you from your hotel in Phong Nha to the Hanoi centre in a 10 hour overnight drive. Furthermore, the cost of the bus from Phong Nha is 250,000 vdk.
You can book a cheap ticket here.
Where to eat at the National Park?
There is no other place I can recommend that will compare to The Bamboo cafe’s exquisite tasting food and for the low prices they offer. It’s a quirky rainforest setting cafe, that offers comfortable seating and a warm atmosphere. We actually visited here due to recommendation from backpackers we had previously met in Cambodia and obviously wasn’t disappointed. I’m real happy when I get fresh tasty food, food that fills me up and for a low price. Bamboo cafe gives you all this.
The mains are incredible, the deserts are super tasty and the drinks are so quench thirsting. One of my favourite things on the menu was the banana and peanut butter smoothie. This only costs 35,000 VKD and it’s an epic drink, even better on a hot day. The staff are also very friendly and will try the best to make it a great foodie experience. Nevertheless, take my word for it and try it out for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.
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Phong Nha Weather
The Phong Nha weather is usually hottest in July and coldest in January, with the weather in Phong Nha fluctuating from month to month. The coldest months to stay in Phong Nha are December to February. The best times to visit Phong Nha are June till August.
Phong Nah-Ke Bang National Park tips and facts
Here is a list of facts that you might find useful;
- Phong Nha is home to some unbelievable caves, including some of the largest caves in the world.
- The Phong Nha centre maybe quite but there is a nightlife. You can step into a bar and sing the night away if that’s your thing.
- There are ATMs available for cash withdrawals.
- The is a little market in Phong Nha just off the main road. Here you can buy goods such as flip flops and T-shirts. I also seen a woman’s hair stylist shop.
- There is one way into the centre and there is one way out.
- There are plenty of tour shops to book day trips and transportation.
For more epic treks, check out Khao Sok lake one day tour for a top place to visit in Thailand
The Phong Nha-Ke Bang is an awesome place for activies, caves and cheap hostels. Also, it’s up there as one of the best places in Vietnam to visit!
Make sure you search for the Hang Son Doong – the world’s awesome 3rd largest cave.