Exploring Phong Nha How to get to Phong Nha Where to stay
Discover Phong Nha
Phong Nha is a destination that is not included in every travel itinerary. This is because it requires more travel time than most destinations in Vietnam. Maybe that is also the reason why you can still experience an almost untouched landscape here.
The main reason to visit Phong Nha is, of course, its enormous cave system. It consists of hundreds of caves, which include the world’s largest cave (Hang Son Doong) and the longest dry cave in Asia (Paradise Cave).
The centre of Phong Nha itself is not much more than a street with guesthouses and hotels. Do you want a more unique experience or are you a big nature fan? Have a look at accommodations further away from the centre like Phong Nha Lake House Resort.
Which caves to visit?
Phong Nha Cave is the closest to the centre. You can reach this cave on foot from the main street. That’s also why it is a great cave to visit when you arrive in the afternoon or still have a morning to spend in Phong Nha.
Most other caves are about half an hour’s drive from the centre. You can visit them by joining a tour or renting a motorbike.
When you rent a motorbike, you can visit several caves and the botanic garden in one day by making a 65 km loop through Phong Nha National Park. If you want to go on an adventurous caving experience, have a look at Hong Tai Cave, also referred to as the dark cave.
Did you get enthusiastic reading about Hang Son Doong Cave? I am afraid I have to disappoint you. There is only one organisation permitted to operate a limited number of tours in the world’s largest cave. You have to book this tour at least one year in advance.
However, there are great alternatives for big cave fans who want to have an extraordinary experience. These include a jungle trek, river crossings and sleeping at the entrance of the world’s third-largest cave (Hang En).
Visit the Oxalis website for more information about these tours.
How to get to Phong Nha
|Leaving from||Duration||Prices from||See details|
|Hanoi||3-12 hours||from $11.50 (281,000 VND)||Hanoi to Phong Nha|
|Cat Ba||6.5-12.5 hours||from $30 (712,000 VND)||Cat Ba to Phong Nha|
|Ninh Binh||8-9.5 hours||from $18 (428,000 VND)||Ninh Binh to Phong Nha|
|Hoi An||6.5-8 hours||from $17 (407,000 VND)||Hoi An to Phong Nha|
|Hue||4-4.5 hours||from $7.50 (183,000 VND)||Hue to Phong Nha|
|Dong Hoi||1-1.5 hours||from $2.10 (50,000 VND)||Dong Hoi to Phong Nha|
Our favourite places to stay in Phong Nha
Thao Nguyen Homestay - Budget Friendly
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 $21 — including an outstanding breakfast!
Bonus: Free cancellation policy till the last day!
Phong Nha Rustic Home - Budget Friendly
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 centre, but you can use their free-bicycle rental to explore the National Parks or get to the centre. Rooms start from $24.
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Based in Bali, Maarten’s passion for travel is undeniable. In 2016, he decided to quit his job as a stock analyst and started doing what he always dreamed of: travelling through South East Asia and helping other people plan their trips. When he is not working on Gecko Routes, you’ll find him surfing in the ocean or exploring the best gems of Indonesia.
I am a solo backpacker and plan to use public transport as far as possible. I am a bit hard pressed for time, and plan to follow the below schedule
– Reach Dong Hoi by train early in the morning. Take the bus to Phong Nha and visit Paradise cave and Tien Son cave. Take the bus to Hue the same evening and stay overnight at Hue.
– Take a day trip to the Vinh Moc tunnels and DMZ and then a bus to Hoi An the same evening.
1. Would I get public bus connections for these routes?
2. Are there any public transport options between Paradise, Phong Nha and Tien Son caves? Which of these caves should I absolutely not miss in case I run short of time?
Thoughts and suggestions please. Thanks a tonne!
Hi Justin! Good that you’re asking. It’s a good start, but I think we can make your trip planning a lot more efficient.
1. Dong Hoi To Phong Nha early morning (1,5 hr by public bus)
2. As far as I know, there is no public transport to the caves and if there is, you will lose a lot of time using public transport. Luckily you can just walk to Phong Nha cave from the main street. Regarding, Tien Son, this is similar but smaller compared to Paradise cave, so I would recommend to only visit the latter. You could hire a motorbike to drive yourself to Phong Nha cave for the most efficient planning if you want to take the bus in the evening to Hue. However, I’m not sure if there are any buses going in the evening from Phong Nha to Hue. I think they only head to North Vietnam. As far as I know, you have to take transport back to Dong Hoi and take the train in the evening to Hue. Luckily there is a much better option to plan your trip:
– Instead of travelling in the evening to Hue, take the DMZ bus with a stop at the Vinh Moc tunnels from Phong Nha to Hue. If you take this bus you don’t need to make another trip from Hue to the DMZ. And if this bus is not available you can even consider to hire a taxi for 2.000.000 VND that stops at the DMZ. IF you stay at a social place like Easy Tiger Phong Nha, you might find some fellow travelers who want to share the taxi with you.
– Once you arrive in Hue, I recommend you to organize an easy rider bike rental with drop off in Hoi An. The Hai Van Pass is one of the greatest ocean roads in the world that you don’t want to miss! Plan a complete day for this ride so you can make several stops on the way and around Da Nang. See this guide of the Hai Van Pass for a more detailed description of how to spend your last days of the trip!
I hope all this info helped. And if you don’t want all the hassle, you could also go straight to Hue and book a tour from Hue to Paradise cave, including a 3-hour walk in the cave and a stop at the DMZ for $45. This might look a bit more expensive, but it will save you a lot of hassle, travel time and transportation costs. Especially when traveling on your own, it might even save you some money and besides that, it will make the tour a lot more exciting as the tour guide will tell you
about the history of the caves and DMZ.
Hope you have a wonderful trip!
My name is Thi and I would love to do a cave hike in phong nha. I hear there’s a 2 Day 1 night option. Can you give me more details?
Hello Thi, we are not a tour operator, but you can always check out our recommended accommodations to find a good place to stay. For cave tours, you can easily book one with a local travel agency once you arrive in Phong Nha.