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If Phong Nha, Vietnam, isn’t on your radar then it absolutely should be! It is a small town with a cooler climate that is relatively new to tourism. Whilst we were wandering the main street we hardly saw any tourists, all the locals were so pleased to see us and the children were constantly shouting out Hello as we drove by. Even though we visited during an extremely cold spell I would say it is now one of my top destinations in Vietnam.
The area is known for its many caves, and is even home to the World’s largest cave, Son Doong! The town is a perfect base if you are a cave lover and wanting to book some tours. However seeing as though some of them require you to swim, which we were definitely not feeling in the freezing cold we were just up to explore a couple.
PHONG NHA CAVE
Phong Nha cave is accessed by boat, which you can buy a combined ticket for at the tourist centre in the town. It is best to wait around at the ticket booth until you get a good number of you together, so you can then divide the boat charge between more people! It is about a 20 minute boat ride to the mouth of the cave, when the engine is switched off and the top roof is taken off so you can get an all round view of the stunning rock formations.
You are then slowly navigated through the cave which is illuminated and gives it an eery atmosphere. Right near the mouth you can actually get off the boat and walk through on foot! It is incredible to experience the massive scale of the stalactites and stalagmites!
We did also try to make it to Paradise Cave, our homestay owner told us that on New Years Day entry would be free. So we made the drive to the cave unfortunately only to be told the full entrance fee applied. Being stubborn we decided not to go in and make the drive back, but we didn’t mind as the drive there itself was well worth the trip!
HOW TO GET AROUND
For us, one of our favourite things to do when arriving in a new town is to hire a motorbike and just drive with no real destination in mind and just explore the area. So that is what we did and what I would recommend you do too! We hired from Motorvina, who we had previously used to drive from Da Nang to Hue so we knew they were reliable.
As the town is pretty small you could also get around by renting a bicycle or by walking, but I am not much of a fan to have to walk too far to eat, I would get way too hangry!
WHERE TO STAY
Whilst we only stayed for two nights in Phong Nha, if we had to return I would 100% go back to the same guesthouse. Ruby Homestay had only been open for a few months and was hosted by a warm and welcoming family. It is only a 5 minute walk away from the main street, and our days there were made even more enjoyable by their three daughters playing silly games with all the guests! They were so cute! We booked our night bus to Ninh Binh with them, and whilst we were waiting they were even kind enough to invite us to their New Years Day family BBQ. We enjoyed a few hours drinking apple vodka shots and wraps of goat, leaves and rice paper!
Click here to book Ruby Homestay!
We also happened across a popular hostel, Easy Tiger, when we were looking for a place to have a few drinks on New Years Eve. We couldn’t believe how many tourists were there, as we hadn’t seen any walking around the main street itself. It seemed to have a really good social environment, and with excellent Western food that we were craving!
We have already decided that one day we want to make a trip back to North Vietnam, in the Summer months, and one of the destinations will definitely be Phong Nha. There is so much more for us to explore in the area including some more of the caves!
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