Phong Nha-Ke Bang

the mouth of Phong Nha with underground river

Phong Nha-Ke Bang is a National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Quảng Bình Province, in the north of the Central Coast region of Vietnam. The park is 50 km north of Dong Hoi, around 450 km south of Hanoi.

Understand

The core zone of this national park covers 857.54 km2 and a buffer zone of 1,954 km2. The park was created to protect one of the world's two largest karst regions with 300 caves and grottoes and also protects the ecosystem of limestone forest of the Annamite Range region in north central coast of Vietnam.

The plateau on which the park is perched is probably one of the finest and most distinctive examples of a complex karst landform in Southeast Asia. This national park was listed in UNESCO's World Heritage Sites in 2003. In April 2009, the world's largest cave, Son Doong Cave, was discovered by a team of British cave explorers of British Caving Association. Tourist activities in this park includes expedition of caves and grottoes in boats, eco-tourism, discovering the flora and fauna in this park and mountain climbing, trekking.

Phong Nha town is on the edge of the park just off the main highway, and has undergone some growth since the caves were discovered. Most accommodation, restaurants and travel providers are in the town, although there are some good places in the surrounding villages - where the tradeoff is the peace and quiet!

Climate

Like North Central Coast Region (Bắc Trung Bộ) in general, and Quảng Bình province in particular, the climate in Phong Nha–Kẻ Bàng national park is tropically hot and humid. The annual mean temperature is 23 to 25 °C, with a maximum of 41 °C in the summer and a minimum of 6 °C in the winter. The hottest months in this region are from June to August, with an average temperature of 28 °C, and the coldest months from December to February with an average temperature of 18 °C. Annual rainfall is 2,000 mm to 2,500 mm, and 88% of the rainfall is from July to December. With more than 160 rainy days per year, no month is without rain. Mean annual relative humidity is 84%.

Get in

Air: The closest service is via Vietnam Airlines to Dong Hoi with flights to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air, and Jetstar Pacific Airlines).

Train: Several arrivals and departures at Dong Hoi daily from as far away as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, only a few hours from Hue.

Bus: A local bus goes from Dong Hoi to Phong Nha for 40,000 dong. It departs at 14:00 from Nam Ly bus station. The bus back to Dong Hoi leaves Phong Nha at 8:00, so you have to either stay overnight or try to go back with one of the tour buses (they may even take you to Dong Hoi for free).

By sleeper buses from Da Nang to Phong Nha, departures at 8:30 and 14:30 (2015).

Motorbikes: Motorbikes can be rented for 150,000 dong from hotels in Dong Hoi. It takes about 1 hour via a highway that has little traffic: the Phong Nha cave is about 45 km from Dong Hoi and the Thien Duong (Paradise) Cave is about 70 km from Dong Hoi.

Taxis: can be hired from hotels/resorts, airport or train station in Dong Hoi. About 1 hour on a highway with cars, oxcarts, motorbikes, buses, trucks.

Tours are available from Hue.

Hotels in Dong Hoi can arrange day trips to the park.

See

Do

Bicycling and kayaking, swimming at allowed points along the rivers.

Eat

Thien Duong Cave: Along with the new road, several restaurants -- at the site entrance, as well as at the top of the 500 stairs! -- were being built for visitors in Spring 2011.

Sleep

In Dong Hoi, there is a range of hotels/guesthouses, as well as at least one beach resort. About 1 hour travel time from Dong Hoi to the park. At least two idyllic options very close to the park:

In Phong Nha Town near the cave boat dock there are several budget level guesthouses along the road TL20 (intersection with the giant sign that says Phong Nha Ka Be National Park) for around 150,000 dong or more.

Camping

Check park regulations first, or go with an organised tour. Park rangers are very suspicious of undocumented visitors overnighting in the park.

Stay safe

Be cautious driving on the road to/from Dong Hoi; avoid night driving.

Bring mosquito repellent.

Quảng Bình Province was one of the most heavily mined and bombed during the war, and unexploded ordnance (UXO) is still a problem in the area including the national park. Be wary of leaving trails, and strongly consider using a guide.

Go next


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, March 16, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.