Your Guide To The Caves of Phong Nha, Vietnam
Whether you only have ten hours or two days in Phong Nha, our cave and city guide covers the everything you need to know about this city and the amazing adventures it has to offer. How much are ticket prices to the caves, which are the best tours to take, what are the recommended local restaurants, where should you stay, and how do you get around the city/to the caves? This is your personal guide to mastering this magnificent secret of Vietnam.
Welcome To Phong Nha
Phong Nha is a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site in the North Central Coast region of Vietnam, about 500 km south of Hanoi. Phong Nha is noted for its cave and grotto systems as it is composed of 300 caves and grottos. A 2009 survey brought the total discovered length of the cave system to about 126 km, with many areas still not well explored. The Sơn Đoòng Cave, which was discovered in the 2009 survey by British and Vietnamese explorers, is considered the largest cave in the world. Even before this discovery, Phong Nha held several world cave records, including the longest river as well as the largest combined caverns and passageways.
The city of Phong Nha itself is a small, underwhelming city - home to only 1,000 residents. There is not a lot to do within the city itself and there are only so many bars, cafes and western “hang-out” spots for tourists. However this city and its caves are quickly making their rounds on blogger sites and tourist pamphlets - becoming a must see destination in Vietnam. So what are you waiting for?
When To Visit?
Best Months To Visit: February to June.
Hottest Months - June to August, with an average temperature of 82 °F.
Coldest Months: December to February with an average temperature of 64 °F.
Monsoon Season (Avoid this time of year): July to December.
Getting To Phong Nha &
Getting Around Once You’re There
Rent a motorbike (Our recommendation) from Hanoi or Hue and ride the The HCM Highway to Phong Nha (This route is much more scenic, much safer than Highway 1 (no asshole truck or bus drivers), and allows you to ride through jaw dropping, picturesque villages).
Rent a driver from the city you currently are in. This driver can get you there really fast via Highway 1, or very slow via the HCM Highway, where s/he will be more than happy to stop for pictures food, drink at any point you wish. Ask your hotel/hostel for their drivers contact information.
Plane: You can fly into nearby Dong Hoi and take a bus the rest of the way.
Train: There are several arrivals and departures at Dong Hoi daily from as far away as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, but only a few hours from Hue or Danang or Hoi An.
Bus: -A local bus goes from Dong Hoi to Phong Nha for less than $2. It departs hourly from many bus stops around Dong Hoi. Look for the blue signs that say Dong Hoi - Hoan Lao - Phong Nha or Dong Hoi - Phong Nha - Trooc.
-Sleeper buses with Hung Thanh Travel, Camel Travel and Queen Cafe make stops in Phong Nha with an overnight journey between Phong Nha and Hanoi and an early morning departure to Hue and evening arrival from Hue.
-The DMZ bus operates a door to door service between Phong Nha and Hue. Departs Phong Nha at 06:30 for $20 and stops at Vinh Moc tunnels and Ben Hai River Museum on the way. Hue to Phong Nha departs early afternoon from Hue with no stops and costs 47 (from DMZ bar in Hue).
The 10 Caves Of Phong Nha
Where We Stay
Shambalaa Newly opened in April 2017, our goal is to offer a quiet and chilled out zone from which you can explore Phong Nha. We offer dorm beds, no private rooms, with brand new mattresses, pillows, sheets, etc. We employ good English-speaking staff who can give you lots of advice and talk you through our large range of the very best tours that Phong Nha has to offer.
In addition to this, we work side by side with Easy Tiger Hostel, and guests of ours are welcome to use all their facilities, including their swimming pool, table tennis table, pool table, Foosball tables, 09:00 information talk, large beer garden, free use of guest computers, open fires in the cooler weather, their hammock house and their gym plus a large social area filled with lots of awesome travelers to talk to!
We are very busy, and because we really believe that this area is very special, we like to encourage travelers to spend longer in the area.
So, What’s available? Mixed dorm rooms in 4, 6, 7, 8 and 10 bed dorms. Please note we do not have private double rooms but if you come here we are happy to suggest alternative hotels that do!
What’s in each room? Each room has large, wide bunk beds, with air conditioning, fans, mosquito nets, lockers for your valuables, clean linen with a top and bottom bed sheet, plus a blanket. Each room has a bathroom with strong, hot showers, and a toilet. Each bed has a reading light and electrical sockets, so you can easily charge up your electrical devices over night.
What else is included? On site in Shambalaa Hostel we have a beautiful chill out area at the front, plus a roof-top terrace. We offer free water refills, free tea & coffee throughout the day and free bicycle rental, plus a free map so you don’t get lost! On check in you’ll get a towel and lock (if needed). Of course we have WIFI. We have a security guard onsite, plus CCTV for extra security.
What to expect? A chilled out atmosphere, helpful staff, lots of tours, advice and information, other restaurants and bars close by, close to Phong Nha Cave and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park.
So What's It Going To Cost?
So, What Did We Spend in 48 hours?
Hotel: $7/night (Average rate for a Shambalaa 6 bed dorm)
Food: $10 + Beer money (Maybe $15 in total per day)
Cave Tickets: $N/A (Depends on what you decide to do)
Transportation: $10 (We rented motorbikes for $5/day in a nearby city)
That's $54USD in 48 hours + additional costs for cave tickets.
(We spent $15 for tickets to the Phong Nha cave and the Paradise cave).