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Phong Na-Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam

Phong-Nha Cave
View of Phong Nha area
Cave formations
Phong Nha town

Only recently opened up to tourism, Phong Nha is yet to experience the development of other areas in Vietnam, and for those who venture here, it offers a truly breath-taking look at some of Vietnam’s natural wonders.

Located in Quang Binh Province to the north of the Central Coast region of Vietnam, the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2003. Consisting of some of the oldest karst mountains in Asia, the whole area is peppered with over 300 cave systems, ranging from small scale grottoes to vast underground caverns.

This region was hit hard during the Vietnam War, and there is still a high concentration of unexploded ordnance in the area. As a result, travel within the park is restricted to safe areas, and you cannot stray far without a licensed guide. The park was kept under tight restrictions until 2010, when it was opened to the public, and since then tourism has been steadily on the increase each year.

The main attraction here is the caves. Whether you are stopping for several days, or just passing through, tours can be arranged to suit your interest and experience. The beautiful Phong Nha Cave for example, can be easily visited in an hour, by taking a boat ride into the cave itself, and making your own way out on foot. On the other end of the spectrum, guided treks can be arranged to last anywhere from a few hours up to several days through some of the harder to reach cave systems.

One sight that must not be missed is Paradise Cave. Only opened up a few years ago, the entrance to Paradise Cave doesn’t look like much. But step through the unassuming entrance and you are greeted by one of the most stunningly beautiful caves in the world. The first kilometre is open for tourism, and peak times can get crowded. But for the adventurous at heart, guided treks a further 7km into the cave can be arranged.

The recent discovery of Son Doong, the largest cave in the world, has generated previously unthought-of levels of interest in Phong Nha, and as tourism grows, the area is likely to lose some of its local charm. The local community is working together with foreign-run Oxalis Adventure Tours, to keep the development at bay. Trips into the National Park and the caves are still regulated, preventing anywhere from becoming too crowded, and a homestay network is being set up around the area, rather than allowing big hotels to move into town.

Even if you are not interested in caving, Phong Nha remains one of the most beautiful and unspoilt regions of Vietnam, and a visit here is guaranteed to stay with you long after your trip is over. Get in touch today to talk to a member of our team.

Posted by Emily on 18 June 2015

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