Why visit Phong Nha Kebang National Park ?

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Phong Nha Kebang National Park
Phong Nha Kebang National Park
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Getting aroung Phong Nha Kebang national park

This area is very beautiful, and a very young tourist destination, very different to Hoi An and Halong Bay, etc. This has many benefits; however because there is not much infrastructure in place yet, some things can be expensive. Without your own transport, such as a motorbike, the only way to get around is by taxi or motorbike taxi. We are 35km from Dong Hoi, about 15km from the National Park, and 8km from Phong Nha town (Son Trach). You can organise cars and motorbikes rentting from many hotel and tour operator , and  it will cost you more to move around than it does in some parts of the country. Further below this is more information on hotel and service shuttle service, please read through it carefully so that you understand the costs involved before arriving in the area.

Why visit Phong Nha Kebang area  ?

Phong Nha is fast becoming well known as one of the most beautiful areas of Vietnam. The Farmstay in 8km south of Phong Nha, deep in the Vietnamese countryside overlooking rice paddies, and is situated to easily explore the area. The area is new to tourism, so there isn’t much choice of eateries, shops or transport.

The National Park was opened to the public a couple of years ago, and consists of pristine untouched jungle spread throughout a rugged landscape. The area is full of large cave systems, the most famous being the Paradise Cave, Hang En cave and Phong Nha Cave. Last year it was announced that a new cave had been discovered that is the largest in the world – The Son Doong cave. This has recentlt (Aug 2013) been opened to the public.

Some Tour and Activity Options at Phong Nha 

Please note: Many of  caving tours are very weather dependent, and can NOT be booked in advance, so please enquire before booking. The National Park tour almost always runs, as does our Bicycle & Boat tour. However the 7km Paradise cave trek and the Hang En cave trek is often unavailable, especially during the winter months (October – December). The Hang En Cave trek very rarely runs if there is any chance of rain due to the nature of the trek and the location of the cave. They, local people,  will not endanger you, so if they say no, they mean no!

For those who would like to do a tour on their day of arrival, you must book your first day’s tour in advance. 

National Park Tour

Runs Every Day
Adults 1,000,000VND, 15-17yrs 900,000vnd, 12-14yrs 800,000vnd, 9-11yrs 650,000vnd, 6-8yrs 450,000vnd, 3-5yrs 250,000vnd, 0-2yrs FREE.
MAX 20 people with 2 guides
Please note: You have the option to swim, so bring your swimwear on this tour!

All entrance fees to destinations, your lunch, guide and transport are included on this tour. We supply an eskie with the tour, drinks are free from it. The tour also includes golf buggy rental at Paradise Cave (very Jurassic Park!) .

Tulan Cave System

Please note: You NEED to bring your swimwear on this tour. You WILL do a lot of swimming!
The Tulan Cave system is an incredible system of caves that traverse under two mountains, one of which was only discovered last year. The caves have a river running through them, and much of this tour is spent swimming through the caves, a real experience in the dark and deep underground. There is much to explore and see, including waterfalls with the caves. The added bonus to this tour is the hike through the jungle to get there.
This is a big day, quite challenging in places, and is one which you will not forget in a hurry! Due to the nature of the tour, there is a minimum of 8 required, and a maximum of 10 people, so we highly recommend booking in advance to get a seat on the bus.

7km Paradise Cave Underground Trek

Please note: You NEED to bring your swimwear on this tour. You WILL get wet!

Go further than the tourism with this tour for the adventurous! On this tour you walk 3.5km into this breathtaking cave, past the lights and tourists, over rocks and through underground rivers. Who else can say they’ve eaten lunch 3.5km underground (apart from miners!)? The cost (which is per person) includes transport each way of 40km and lunch and guides etc. You can swim in the Son Chay River at Tro Mung Ranger Station on your way home if you like.

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2 Day Trek to Hang En Cave and Ban Doong

On this tour you trek to Hang En with the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park Tourism Board, over 2 days, and stay in Hang En Cave overnight or in the local village, weather depending. This is the tour that is being sold by many operators as the Son Doong Cave Visit for a lot more money!.

This tour goes through Ban Doong Minority Area where the villages have no roads to them and there is no electricity etc. No motorbikes, etc. It is like traveling back in time and there are no tourists up there so the locals do not try to sell you stuff. They are just looking at you wondering where you came from and why!

You are supplied with food, water and sleeping gear by the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park Tourism Office and they are the guys who take you.

Phong Nha Kebang National Park
Phong Nha Kebang National Park

Getting here and away.

Dong Hoi Transfer Service

Trains, planes and buses almost all drop you off at DONG HOI. This is our nearest major urban area, 40km from the site. You can arrange a private car to pick you up from/take you to Dong Hoi, and the cost of this is shared by the number of people arriving/leaving.  The price of transfer between Dong Hoi and Phong Nha, per person is:

Passengers
1
2
3
4
5+
Price per passenger VND
500,000
250,000
170,000
125,000
100,000

Try to share with more people in the car if arriving at the same time to make it cheaper.  Local taxis have been known to charge from 600,000vnd to 1,000,000vnd. If you would rather find your own transport, you have the option of taking a xe om (motorbike taxi) which you can barter down to 200,000vnd, and there is one bus per day that goes between Dong Hoi and Phong Nha, that normally leaves at around 13:00. This does change though!

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Planes

There are daily flights to and from Ha Noi and Saigon with Vietnam Airlines, quite cheap if booked in advance and takes less than an hour. The schedules change sometimes and at quieter times of year they may not go on certain days of the week to both destinations.
Da Nang (300km south) has Domestic & International flights to an ever-increasing number of foreign destinations and Hue (200km south) has domestic flights to increasing destinations.

Traveling from Hanoi
If coming from Hanoi, the train, especially the night train, is the most popular method. You can book them through your hotel, at the station or a Travel agent.
Trains from Ha Noi to Dong Hoi
SE1 07:00pm Ha Noi – 04:30am Dong Hoi
SE3 11:00pm Ha Noi – 07:49am Dong Hoi
SE19 7:35pm Ha Noi – 05:50am Dong Hoi
SE5 09:00am Hanoi – 19:10pm Dong Hoi
SE7 6:15am Ha Noi – 15:43pm Dong HoiI recommend that you take the SE1 or SE19 because they arrive early enough to join our tours on that day. The SE3 arrives too late to join an organized tour, but you can  rent somes of bicycles

Buses

The overnight Bus from Ha Noi is best avoided if you value your life. Collecting you from Dong Hoi is quite complicated if you arrive by bus as they drop you off at different times and places, so you need to get to the train station and then call us –no earlier than 06:30am please! And be warned, sometimes if you are asleep (though there is little chance of that!) they will neglect to drop you in Dong Hoi at all and will take you to Dong Ha or Hue – hundreds of kms away. Trust me, this is more common than you can imagine.

Traveling from Hue
 
Please note that these same options can be used to go TO Hue as well.

Option 1)

Phong Nha – Hue – DMZ Stop Minibus transfer

This bus leaves from Hue Backpackers at 13:00 every day, arrives at the Farmstay at around 18:00, and visits the Ben Hai River museum and the fascinating Vinh Moc Tunnels en-route. The price is 500,000vnd ($25) per person, including entry to the Tunnels and museum.To take this bus, please be at Hue Backpackers (10 Pham Ngu Lao, Hue) by 12:45 in the afternoon.

Option 2) The train 

Trains from Hue to Dong Hoi:
SE2 – 14:48 – Arriving Dong Hoi 17:44
SE4 – 17:11 – Arriving Dong Hoi 19:56
SE6 – 05:04 – Arriving Dong Hoi 08:33
SE8 – 01:43 – Arriving Dong Hoi 04:44
SE20 – 17:35 – Arriving Dong Hoi 21:17
Option 3) The local bus

You get the bus from the North Bus Station in Hue at around 11:15am. You simply go there and find the Red 24-seat bus with “Phuc Vu” written across the front of it (don’t ask us to pronounce that). Its Rego plate is 73L9790. You pay the driver 150,000VND depending on what mood he is in.  It is cheap and fast (when it goes on time and doesn’t break down). It takes about 4 hours.

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The train is more comfortable and reliable, but more expensive as you need to get from Dong Hoi Station to us, whereas the Bus goes to our door. There is SOMETIMES a 1pm Bus from Hue that has a rego Plate 73L9172 that also stops at our door.

Option 4) PRIVATE Farmstay DMZ Highlights Transfer from your Hotel in Hue.
Includes stops at: Vinh Moc Tunnels, Ben Hai River Museum, Dong Ha NPA museum, Tam’s Café.
Private, reliable, interesting, great for saving you time, good for families.
Prices:
Passengers
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
Price per passenger VND
2,825,000
1,413,000
945,000
710,000
800,000
670,000
575,000
500,000
450,000

Option 5) Old American Army JEEP – from your hotel in Hue.

  • Private, great fun, a brilliant way to see the country.
  • Departs: 08:30
  • Arrives: Approx. 17:00
  • Maximum x3 passengers
Prices:
Passengers
1
2
3
Price per passenger VND
5,000,000
2,500,000
1,670,000
Option 6) MOTORBIKE with Driver
  • Private, great fun, spectacular scenery and great for photography.
  • Departs: 08:30
  • Arrives: Approx. 17:00
  • Route option 1: Hue – Phong Nha Farmstay in one day. Travel up the Ho Chi Minh East road. Price: 1,600,000vnd per person, including motorbike and driver.
  • Route option 2: Hue – Phong Nha Farmstay in two days. Day one – Hue to Khe San. Day two – Khe San to Phong Nha (up the truly spectacular Ho Chi Minh West road, through the mountains and National Park) Price 1,600,000vnd/day, including motorbike, driver and accommodation.

Traveling from Da Nang

Trains from Da Nang (25km north of Hoi An) to Dong Hoi:

SE2 – 12:01 – Arrives Dong Hoi 17:44
SE4 – 14:40 – Arrives Dong Hoi 20:00
SE6 – 02:21 – Arrives Dong Hoi 08:33
SE8 – 23:15 – Arrives Dong Hoi 05:25

If getting the Bus from Da Nang
 
If getting the Bus from Da Nang (25km north from Hoi An) You get the bus from the Da Nang Bus Station in Da Nang at 01:00pm. You simply go there and find the Bus with “Da Nang – Phong Nha” written across the front of it. Its Rego plate is 73L9018. You pay the driver 250,000VND depending what mood he is in. This is a local bus and we at Phong Nha Farmstay have no control over it. It is cheap and fast when it goes on time and doesn’t break down. There is also a 29 seat bus with the same company called Bao Vuong, with the number 73B-00194. The train is more comfortable reliable and more expensive as you need to get from Dong Hoi Station to us where as the Bus goes to our door.

Recommended Hotel in this area :
I stayed one week in the region and love this hotel: Phong Nha Farmstay the best of the corner check their website  http://www.phong-nha-cave.com/