Phong Nha Review

In 2003 Phong Nha was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the geological significance of the area. The mountain range is limestone based and therefore prone to erosion making Phong Nha the location of some of the most beautiful cave systems in the world including the recently discovered world’s largest cave, “Son Dong”.

Although access to the caves is somewhat restricted visitors to the area are able to easily access Paradise Cave via scooter and others via organised boat tours. Son Dong isn’t on the menu however with the current plan, that seems to change daily, to open the cave to about 80 tourists a year at some stage for the entry price a cool $3,000USD per person.

Phong Nha also marks the start of the Victory Trail, as it is known in these parts, or the more commonly known Ho Chi Minh Trail. In many respects it was the sacrifices of the hundreds of thousands of North Vietnamese in this area to build the trail, who had an average life expectancy of just 2 days, that swayed the balance of power during the American Conflict.

The place is absolutely fascinating from so many angles and it was totally unexpected. All I knew about the area was the location of my accommodation, the Phong Nha Farmstay, and that I had planned to spend 2 nights. Well I ended up staying for 5 and even then I had to drag myself away.

No doubt over the coming years this will be a boom tourism area but at the moment it is still very much off the beaten track. That said there are at least 3 good accommodation options in the Phong Nha area with the farmstay being my personal favorite due to the quality of the visitors dictated by the fact they have taken the time to come this far inland and the outstanding staff who really go the extra mile to ensure you have the best stay possible.

The below is the view over the rice paddies from the roof of the Farmstay.

View over the rice paddy fields from the Farmstay roof

The Farmstay is run by an Australian Ben and his Vietnamese wife Bic and they have developed quite the combination. With a swimming pool, plenty of cold beer and soft beds  the farmstay is an absolute oasis.

They also run tours to Hang Toi (the Dark Cave) and Phong Nha Cave systems and can also book you on a trek up Paradise cave 7km beyond where the average Joe has to stop.

Unlike a number of the tours I have done in Vietnam the Farmstay tours are a complete experience with passionate native English speaking guides who not only provide an excellent portrayal of the national park but also the history and the culture of the area. Don’t be surprised if you come away from one of the Farmstay run tours learning more about Vietnam than you had learnt over the previous two months traveling like I did!

The Farmstay has a mix of private rooms, semi private rooms and dorms. During my stay they were full every night so if you’re heading their way make sure you book in advance.

Words can really only say so much about this beautiful part of Vietnam. Click on the below image to see a photo gallery of some of the Caves in the Phong Nha area (Paradise, Dark Cave and Phong Nha), the rice harvest that was coincidentally happening during my stay and some of the surrounding area.

Phong Nha National Park

Note the bomb craters in the foreground of the above image… ?

By the time we rolled out of Phong Nha I had spent 70 days in Vietnam and Phong Nha was the biggest surprise and without question the most spectacular and history rich area I had visited to date. I would come back here in a flash and as a result it comes thoroughly recommended with a perfect –

10/10

1 Comment

  1. This is one awesome blog.Thanks Again. Much obliged.

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