From the beaches to the mountains. From the water to the trees. From wet to, well, more wet! Natural tunnels underground, created by water and millions of years – Caves. Caves are stunning natural creations and quite a site to see. Some of the most spectacular views are found here and also is home to some of the biggest and longest caves ever found. Exploring Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park (Location Link) can easily take weeks to see all it has to offer. In a day I tried to see two of the more popular locations – Phong Nha Cave and Thiên Đường Cave (Paradise Cave). Phong Nha cave is the more famous of the two – it is a river cave, meaning you take a boat to enter the cave and get to view it from the water. Paradise Cave is the longer of the two – 34kms in length and it floods during the rainy season and is dry during other times.
Heading to the caves! GoPro in action – videos to come!
Entering the park – apparently there is supposed to be a ticket booth to enter the park, I either zoomed passed it and missed it, or this regulation has changed.
Entering Phong Nha cave requires parking at the waterway near a market and boarding a water taxi into the cave – Purchase a cave ticket and get a water taxi – I joined a group of Australians who were visiting to reduce the cost of the taxi – the boat fee is flat fee – up to 14 people, so the more people in a group the cheaper it gets. Lucky me I was number 14 to join! Once you set off, its about 2-3kms on the water, then you enter the cave and float through the cave to view it. Towards the end of the tour you get off and walk past some of the stalactites and stalagmites (someone told me that to remember the difference; stalagmites MIGHT fall – and its the opposite of what you think because they grow from the ground as water falls from the ceiling). Some very cool formations and caverns. There is even an ancient vase deep into the cave – I don’t know the age of it, but it sure was cool to see!
The boats that take people into the caves
Hey all you Aussies! Enjoy your trip to Vietnam!
Rock formation in Phong Nha Cave
Here you can see the Vase I mentioned earlier. It is part of the cave now – it has been there for that long!
Paradise cave is about 20kms from Phong Nha cave. Jump back on the main road and follow the signs there. If I had more time I would have checked out a few of the other caves – there are so many to see! I went past Dark Cave – a zip line cave and a mud pool and a cave lake to jump into as well – next time! Anywho, Paradise Cave is a walking cave and has about a 1km boardwalk to see everything. You have to climb 500 stairs to reach the mouth of it, and on a hot and humid day, this is exhausting! But once you get to the top, Paradise cave in one word: stunning. Spectacular. Amazing. It doesn’t seem real – at times I felt like I was in a SciFi film and was expecting aliens to jump out at me at any moment. The natural rock formations that Paradise Cave has are impressive, enormous, and full of color. The size of some of the caverns are incredible – bigger than many homes! I can only imagine what Son Doong Cave looks like now – the biggest cave ever found.
Going to Paradise cave – from Phong Nha
400 more to go! 399…398…397…but who’s counting right?
Trying to show the size of the cavern here, I’m standing at the top of one of them.
Alien space ship? Secret government silo? This one grew from the bottom and got as high as it can go, now its growing wider!
What do you see? Dragon head? Camel? Camel head? All over this cave there are faces, animals and images seen in the rocks!
Long, big and cool!
Not only are the caves spectacular – but the road leading to them and the road leaving them is amazing. The caves are located in the National Park area and much of the area is still unexplored – so who knows, there may be an even bigger cave hiding in these mountains! Along the road there are signs that say “frontier area” so that can only tell me that this land is vastly unharmed and still in its natural state before mankind changes its ecosystems and builds upon it.
Depending on the direction you come from, the road you see will be different – I am coming from the south so I am coming from the heat of central Vietnam. If you come from the north you already get to see all the hills and mountains, but the change in scenery once you approach the park is stunning. On the north side of the park there is an extremely smooth, concrete, straight roadway that goes for about 2kms. I was curious about this section and learned that it used to be an army landing strip in the 60’s and 70’s during the war – high up in the mountains! Very cool! It could still be used in emergencies if need be – or could also be reassigned as an airstrip again if some maintenance items were completed on it.
Suspiciously long and straight!
Look at that view!
Hit the throttle hard, push farther and get to the next stop – driving after dark in Vietnam is quite a challenge. There are no street lights or road reflectors to find your way and this makes the road very challenging at night time! Then mix the bugs, dust and other motorists on the road and its a messy mix! I left the caves a little later than planned – and I had 2 hours of daylight to complete a 3 hour drive to my next destination, joy…a race agains the sun…But I made it in one piece and with one eye and did not hit any of the cows that randomly roam around these roads! They literally pop out of nowhere, just like the people riding the bicycles, they pop out of nowhere! I only had one eye because I got a bug in one eye and lost my contact trying to get it out and I wasn’t going to unpack my whole bag to find one contact in the middle of the road after the sun went down 😮 so one eyed driving it was until the next morning!
Pressing hard to beat the sun! Nearly maxed out here! My race against mother nature failed, darkness enclosed and so did the bugs…
Halong Bay I’m on my way! Ha Tinh to Ninh Binh first, then to Halong bay! I will have both eyes and ready for what there is to see! Ciao!