Travel to Phong Nha Caves Vietnam Adventures-Part 1

This is part 1 of my Travel to Phong Nha Caves Vietnam Adventures
Vietnam – long, thin and vastly beautiful!Travel to Phong Nha Caves Vietnam Adventures, Phong Nha Caves, Vietnam Adventures, Phong Nha Caves Vietnam, Phung Nha Caves

Smiles uninhibited, broad and welcoming.

The next morning after my arrival into Da Nang, Vietnam, I take off on a train heading north with Dr. Alkan and Susan – a friend visiting from Ho Chi Minh.

We are headed to the Phung Nha Caves – hidden deep in the tangled Truong Son Mountains in the Quang Binh province.Phong Nha Caves, Vietnam Adventures, Phong Nha Caves Vietnam, Phung Nha Caves

Travel to Phong Nha Caves Vietnam Adventures

The train snakes up the coast line clinging to the cliffside as the earth plunges to the sea and the sandy coves below.

Unquestioning their existence, mountains climb straight up out of the ground. They stand tall, unmovable and the train does not challenge them as it ducks into a dark tunnel submitting to their power.

Thick grey clouds take over the blue sky and the train is washed in the torrent of a tropical storm. The freshness soaks into the lush soil tended by brightly colored women their umbrella-shaped hats protecting their faces from the rain.

The air is warm with smiles and sweat as I chat, without words, to the Vietnamese students around me.

Vietnam rice paddys, Phong Nha Caves, Vietnam Adventures, Phong Nha Caves Vietnam, Phung Nha CavesThe Farmstay

We arrive late and settle into the Farmstay – owned by an Australian-Vietnamese couple (it is a bit fancy but they have dorm beds for $8/night and organize many tours into the mountains and caves).

Biking tour to the River Son

The next morning we rent bicycles and ride through the small villages framed by mountains and florescent green rice fields.

We bike until we reach the shores of the mighty Son where we load into a long yellow boat with a flat blue roof and head up the river.

Boat Ride up the Son River

Phong Nha Caves, Vietnam Adventures, Phong Nha Caves Vietnam, Phung Nha CavesSteep mountains jut straight out of the muddy waters on either side, and our boat winds slowly between them.

We pass a church its tall, yellow steeple standing oddly picturesque against the green jungle backdrop.

 

A canoe hitches a ride as the laughing girls clutch the side of our boat.

A gentle rain begins to fall and I smile up to its soft pellets – my jungle complete.

We turn down a tributary of the river and the brown waters disappears into a black hole…

LINK:  See the Phong Nha Caves Photos + Read the rest of the Phong Nha Caves Vietnam Adventures -Part 2.

 

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Comments

  1. The photos are so beautiful. -some of them look surreal- especially the one of the mountains and the dirt pathway through the rice fields. The boat and river photo looks like an enchanted place -what Your descriptions make me feel like I was there.

    • Wow! Thank you Sandra – your comments are so sweet! It is a beautiful place and hard to take a bad photo! You should visit! You seem like the type of person who would truly love it!

  2. I thought this was interesting. (growing rice seems to be a lot of work).

  3. wow-the jungle is so expansive and so green! and those girl’s smiles are so beautiful… looks like a lot of fun! thanks for sharing your interesting stories from your travels.

  4. The farmstay sounds beautiful -is it like a bed and breakfast? Do they have a website? I am wanting to travel around Vietnam, so any advice you have is great. I would like to do that bike ride to the River Son -how long did it take you? How did you plan to go see the Phong Nha Caves in Vietnam? did you hire a local guide?

    • Hello Ladi,

      Thanks so much for your comments! When are you going to Vietnam? I would love to give you a lot more info and advise but am on the move right now and do not have a lot of time, or internet access. I will be back in the US end of Nov and can answer any question you have.

      Some quick basic answers: Em listed wonderful info about the Farmstay below. The bike ride took about an hour ish – beautiful route through rice fields and villages – you can go as fast or as slow as you desire. I do not think you need a guide but do need a good map. The guide is a cute local boy though. As far as planning this – I actually just joined in on the tour that the doctor I was working with in Da Nang planned. Went there the morning after arriving in Vietnam – so I was lucky!! (:

      Hope that answers some question but please let me know when you are going and I would love to answer more. Have fun!!

      Shelly

  5. The farmstay in phong nha is wonderful! It is a place you must stay at for anyone! There is so much to do in the area and you have a fantastic place to stay with clean, comfortable rooms, great food, and great people to hang out with! It is obvious that Ben + Bich (Aussie + Vietnamese couple) really care about their guests! Check it out… Phong Nha Farmstay

    • Thank you so much for adding that wonderful information Em! When were you there? And what did you do there?

      Yeah the Farmstay is super nice and amazingly not very well known – although they are suppose to be listed as one of the highlight of Southeast Asia in the new Lonely Planet Guide book so I imagine it is going to become very popular very fast! So go now if you do not like lots of tourist!!!! (:

  6. Is the biking tour actually a tour with a tour guide? or did you just rent a bike and bike to the river Song? Did you leave the bikes with someone else? Curious if you have more info on how to do that? thanks.

    • Hey John,

      We rented the bikes from the farm stay and our “guide” was a very cute local boy who was incredibly patient and professional! (: They give you locks for the bikes and you leave them in the parking lot where the boat ride begins. I am sure you could just rent bikes and wander on your own – once you know the area a bit it is fairly easy to get around – I think (:. Farmstay has many options and a lot of different tours. I think you can also rent motorbikes from them. Hope that help – please write if you have any more Q’s.

  7. here’s a video I found looking at the process of growing and harvesting rice…

    and another of harvested rice and fields along with some cute kids…

  8. I saw this on travelfish.org:
    Details about Phong Nha Farmstay.
    We are a Vietnamese/Australian Couple.
    *We have Private Rooms upstairs @ 35USD and downstairs are 25USD.
    *Dorm Beds in the Homestay next door are 8USD each per night.

    Getting Here and Away from the North
    There are early morning flights daily to and from Ha Noi to Dong Hoi with Vietnam Airlines Quiet cheap of booked in advance and takes less than an hour.
    From Saigon there are Lunch time flights somedays of the week. It seems to change often.
    To and from Ha Noi you can also get an overnight sleeper train which takes approx 10 hours if the wind is blowing in the correct direction and the stars are aligned. I do like the train however.
    The over night Buses are best avoided if you value your life.
    Transfer to or from Dong Hoi by private is 400,000VND at the train station, airport or on the Highway if you come by Bus. Heading north by bus can be arranged out of Hoan Lao by us as it’s 19km east of us on Hwy 1.

    Getting here and away from here to the south.

    There are local buses that leave daily from our front door to Hue (150,000VND 4hrs) and Da Nang (220VND 6hrs) at 5:30am
    The same Buses leave Da Nang and Hue at 1pm on the return trip. Not Comfortable but a fast and cheap and cultural experience
    Private car “DMZ Highlights Transit Tour” to and from Hue is 2,300,000VND stopping at Vinh Moc Tunnels, Ben Hai River Museumand Tam’s Cafe for Lunch.

    Please see the following Links for info on the destinations included in the”DMZ Highlights Transit Tour” to and from Hue.
    http://www.tamscafe.co.nr/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Hai_River
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinh_Moc_tunnels
    http://www.frommers.com/destinations/hue/D48592.html
    If others are going to or from Hue that day they can share the 2,300,000VND cost of the car and driver.
    You can decide when and how you move south or north from here once your here if you like. We can help with some great suggestions as can other travelers staying here.

    We will have some great tours and “do it yourself options” here to entertain you too and full Bar facilities, Restaurant and a Pool (All menu prices are on the web sight).

    Also see http://www.oxalis.com.vn/GL/en/home/ and Phong Nha Cave Farmstay/
    for more info on tours. We arrange some of our tours through Oxalis Adventure tours as they are a local company we support.

    Ben and Bich
    http://www.phong-nha-cave.com
    phongnhafarmstay@gmail.com
    Ben 0944759864
    Bich 0976425332

  9. QUANG BINH PROVINCE

    Area: 7,984 sq. km
    Population: 1,048,000
    Capital Town: Dong Hoi

    Quang Binh Province is situated in Central Vietnam and is the narrowest part of the country, with a coastline that stretches 126 km long. Famous sites include:

    Phong Nha Caves
    An elaborate and magical cave system set in a region of limestone mountains about 50 km from Dong Hoi. There are 14 caves, which are among the deepest in the world at 4,500m. The world’s longest underground river winds through them. There is a beautiful underground lake and magnificent stalactites and stalagmites.

    Quang Binh Border Gate
    Built in 1630 to protect the remote capital of Phu Xuan of the Nguyen dynasty. Its porch and walls have been restored to the original design.

    Nhat Le Beach
    A splendid and popular beach only 2 km from Dong Hoi. Nearby is Bau Tro, the site of an archaeological discovery in 1923 of primitive Stone Age people from 5,000 years ago.
    Read for more Helpful information about some of the attractions in Central Vietnam North.

  10. Did you get to see this cave?
    Hang Son Doong. The Worlds Largest Cave In Vietnam. Produced by Brian Bird. Photos Courtesy of National Geographic.

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