Phong Nha Ke Bang
Certified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2013, tourists from all walks of life have developed a strong crave for visiting Phong Nha- Ke Bang national park and the impressive surrounding areas in Quang Binh Province. It is one of the location that a numerous of travelers rave about and for them, it seems like they can see the “real” Vietnam vividly through experiencing Quang Binh.
Bestowed with the value of geographical priority by spectacular and mysterious nature, Phong Nha- Ke Bang is home to imposing cloud-hugging mountains, lush, verdant forest, stunning rice paddies and magnificent cave system. While Son Doong Cave has recently ranked top in the bucket list of massive tourists all over the world, it’s undoubtedly worth mentioning despite its extremely high expense to stand an opportunity to access. The cave is incredibly giant that a half of 40-storey skyscrapers can fit in and it has its own thick jungles, fast-flowing rivers and climate inside as a bonus. “With ceilings towering over 200 meters high in places, the cave is a humbling and belittling experience,” said an Australian photographer.
Nevertheless, tourists should not be discouraged due to the fact that there are a plenty of must-see caves which are easier on travelers’ wallet aside from Son Doong waiting for you to discover. Several good examples includes:
Discovering Phong Nha Cave, the Cave is regarded to be the most outstanding one with the longest underground stream in the world which can be accessed after a 30—minute boat trip against the current of Son river.
Get lost in Hang Toi (Dark Cave) which can be reached by using zip line over the river. When visitors can get inside the cave, apart from contemplating the striking stalactites system, travelers are strongly suggested not to give it a miss to float in a natural mud pool and then cool off in the nearby lake. One more interesting fact is that its name doesn’t completely come from its void of light but due to the black basalt and limestone creating the cave.
Highlight your trip with Thien Duong cave (Paradise Cave) offers explorers with a unique and impressive long underground system equipped with light effects of sparkling LED lighting running along the hand rails, well-constructed boardwalk and overwhelming stalactites. More fascinating is once you reach the bottom of the vast cavern which leads you to a “real” heaven with work-of-art rock formations.
Back to the past with Hang Tam Co (the Eight Lady Cave) where tourists will gain a chance to cross the winding marvelous valleys and limestone mountain to get to a historical spot. This place is considered to be a witness of the bombings by the US years ago evidenced by a few bomb craters.
Other spots that tourists should take note comprise: Tien Son Cave- a dry cave hugging around the mountain which can be visited all year round without worrying about water level; En Cave (Swallow Cave) – home of thousands of swallows and bats; Survival Valley – Aquarium Cave; etc. Alternatively, tourists also can take challenges and discover the surroundings such as Da Nhay beach (Jumping stone beach); Mooc stream; Dong Hoi city; etc.
How to get there
Located right on important transport junctions, Quang Binh offers tourists several convenient ways to reach either by planes, trains or passenger cars. If travelers choose cars as their transport to access Quang Ninh, it will take them around 9-10 hours. Fortunately, these car companies often start their journey from Hanoi at 6pm which means you will be able to reach Quang Binh at 4 to 5 o’clock in the morning. Nevertheless, the train also becomes the common choice for a growing number of visitors which starts moving at 11 in the afternoon, all tourists have to do is heading to sleep and get off the train at 7am on the next day. The train ticket’s price fluctuates from 267.000vnd for hard seats to 680.000vnd for soft ones with the air con. On the other hands, for those who don’t expect for an exhausting trip, plane definitely cannot be neglected which is much faster (around 1 hour) and relaxing. Notwithstanding, at the moment, only Vietnam Airlines offers passengers flight route from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City to Quang Binh. Or else, travelers totally can head to Da Nang or Hue then return Quang Binh by bus or car.
What to eat
Not only is Quang Binh granted with stunning beaches, spectacular caves and a plentiful of the tourist attractions but this beautiful place also offers travelers with a huge number of dedicated dishes that hardly can anyone forget.
Chao canh, a very typical dish in Quang Binh which is also considered to be Hanoians’ Pho, will certainly give tourists an unforgettable taste of the countryside. Additionally, it doesn’t count that tourists come to visit Quang Binh without attempting to enjoy a plate of banh loc (steaming cake). Another strongly recommended food can be mentioned including regional seafood, oyster soup, shrimp crepes made from local unpolished rice, mountainous animals, etc.
Besides, tourists also can be proposed a taste of Western food to satisfy their craving by paying a visit to some Café such as Phong Nha Bamboo Cafe or Capture Vietnam Café.
When to get there
When planning to get to Quang Binh, tourist should take weather into account because if you are unlucky to visit Quang Binh in the rainy season, water will definitely dominate inside the caves then sightseers cannot access to the majority of caves there. That’s the reason why the period from February to August is the best time for traveling there.