7 hours, 220.000 VND (€8)
We recommend to take the bus because this is the fastest way to get from Tam Coc or Ninh Binh to Phong Nha. Another advantage is that the bus drops you off right at the main street of Phong Nha. The bus leaves at 21:00 in the evening and arrives around 4:00 in the morning in Phong Nha.
You can book the Hung Thanh bus or Queen Bus at a premium price with BookAway. Want to safe a few bucks? Then get your ticket in Ninh Binh/Tam Coc.
Train + Taxi/Bus
9 hours, 464.000 VND (€17)
When you travel by train, you first have to take the train to Dong Hoi. From Dong Hoi you can take a public bus or taxi to Phong Nha. The journey by train takes about 3 hours more compared to taking the bus.
Option 1: Bus
Route: Ninh Binh Phong Nha
Duration: 7 hours
Costs: 220.000 VND (€8)
Most bus companies leaving from Hanoi make a short stop to pick up passengers in Ninh Binh or Tam Coc. Ask your accommodation or a local agency in Tam Coc or Ninh Binh to book you a ticket. Tickets cost around 220.000 VND (€8) for a sleeper.
Hung Thanh is one of the companies operating on this route. This bus leaves at 21:00 from’ Kinh Do Hotel’ in Ninh Binh. If you stay in Tam Coc they pick you up at ‘The Long Hotel’. The bus arrives around 4:00 (7 hrs) at the main street of Phong Nha.
Other bus companies also leave around 21:00 and will arrive between 4:00 and 5:00 in Phong Nha.
Update: Book online with BookAway
You can also book the Hung Thanh bus and Queen Bus online with BookAway. Neither of the two receives good reviews, but keep in mind that most people only leave a review with bad experiences.
Own experience: I travelled this route with Queen Bus and had a very comfortable ride. However, the two travellers who entered the bus as the last person had to sleep in the walkway, even though they booked their tickets from their accommodation. And as always, travelling by bus in Vietnam is not as safe as in Western countries. Travelling by train is safer, but comes with more hassle.
The Hung Thanh bus leaves from Tam Coc and also provides pick-up service for ($4-$5 extra). Queen Cafe Bus departs from Ninh Binh city or Duc Tuan restaurant in Tam Coc. However, they are more expensive. Expect to pay 370.000 VND (€14).
Tip: Let your accommodation know when you expect to arrive and which bus company you booked with. When the luck is on your side, you can check in early and enjoy your room straight away!
Option 2: Train + Taxi/Bus
Route: Ninh Binh Dong Hoi Phong Nha
Duration: 9 hours
Costs: 464.000 VND (€17)
Want to travel by train to Phong Nha? Book a ticket to Dong Hoi station and continue from there by bus or taxi to Phong Nha. Make sure you book your train ticket to Dong Hoi station and not Dong Ha!
Dong Hoi railway station is 40km south of Phong Nha and takes about 1,5 hour by bus or taxi to Phong Nha.
Train: Ninh Binh Dong Hoi
Duration: 7,5 hours
Costs: 404.000 VND (€15)
Since the train journey takes roughly 8 hours, it is better to travel by night so you don’t waste a day on travelling. This leaves you with one of the two options below. Just click on your preferred train to book.
|SE3||21:47-05:21||7h 34m||397.000 VND (€15)|
|SE19||22:25-05:59||7h 34m||404.000 VND (€15)|
We recommend booking a sleeper berth in the SE19. Expect to arrive at 6:00 in the morning Dong Hoi. When you take an earlier train, you will have to wait on the same bus from Dong Hoi to Phong Nha which leaves at 07:10.
Tickets for a 6-person sleeper berth start from 354.000 VND (€13) with the SE19 and from 441.000 VND (€18) with the SE3. Choosing a seat doesn’t make much sense and in that case you will be better off taking a bus.
Unique Tip for European travellers: Get a free credit card from N26 Bank to avoid extra charges on your bookings. This revolutionary start-up bank is especially popular among Backpackers, because they don’t charge annual fees and also don't charge extra fees on international bookings. Plus: No salary check, which means even students can get one. Note that this card is only available for people with a European address.
Taxi/Bus: Dong Hoi Phong Nha
Duration: 1-1,5 hours
Costs: 60.000 VND (€2)
The bus from Dong Hoi to Phong Nha leaves at 7:10 from the bus station which is a 15min walk from Dong Hoi railway station.
Another option is to take a taxi from the railway station to Phong Nha.
See “From Dong Hoi to Phong Nha” for the bus schedule and more details.
My favourite places to stay in Phong Nha
Thanks to the great hospitality of the family, this homestay will feel like your home. After a day of trekking you can take a dive in the pool or sit back and relax with a Netflix movie. The homestay is located right in front of the bus stop in the center of Phong Nha. Rooms with mountain views already start from €19,- including an outstanding breakfast!
Bonus: Free cancellation policy till the last day!
Want a more unique experience? The interior of Phong Nha Rustic Home creates a real rustic feel which makes you feel one with nature. It's located outside the city center, but you can use their free-bicycle rental to explore the National Parks or get to the center. Rooms start from €22.
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