Phong Nha, Vietnam (many caves) – Where to Stay ? What to Visit ? How to Arrive ? – Page 1

Phong Nha –Maps – Orientation

Map 1 – Distances to Phong Nha

Map 2 – Transport to Phong Nha

Map 3 – Phong Nha Center

Map 4 – Main Attractions

Map 5 – Interactive Map

  1. Points in Red : Transport
  2. Points in Blue : Tourist Attractions
  3. Points in Green :  Phong Nha Center

How is Phong Nha ?

A beautiful rural area with a lot of caves.

Some of the caves have world records in certain categories, but you probably won’t visit these ones because they require a participation in an expedition during a few days (quite expensive and with advance reservation). Still, the 2 caves that you will surely visit (Phong Nha cave and Paradise cave) are very impressive and of easy access.

The rural area of Phong Nha is very scenic with cows and buffalos, hills and rivers.

The town of Phong Nha is just a few hostels and restaurants on the road. You will find in the “town” everything you need (ATMs, grocery shops and motorbike rental), but the fun is limited. The force of Phong Nha is in its rural area.

The Town of Phong Nha

Here are a few photos, from the town, just in order to convince you that you can survive here :
The main street, in the evening at 21:00. There is only one street in the town, it is the national road.

A grocery shop

ATM

Motorbike rental

Is it worth to visit Phong Nha ?

Yes, but not necessarily on your first visit. It is a little bit more difficult to reach Phong Nha compared to other destinations. It depends on the available time that you have. If you have only one month in Vietnam, you may decide to skip the south of Vietnam and in that case Phong Nha may be a part of a visit to Hue, Da-Nang and Hoi-An.

Pros for visiting Phong Nha

  1. Amazing 2 caves to visit. I have visited many caves during my trips in Asia and these 2 are the most impressive.
  2. Beautiful landscape.
  3. On the way between Ninh-Binh and Hue (see Map 1 above).

Cons for visiting Phong Nha

  1. Caves are still caves. If you have visited a lot of caves in your life, the impression will be reduced.
  2. You may be attracted to the place because you heard of some world records regarding some caves. You probably won’t visit those caves because they require participating in an expedition. You will visit smaller caves (which are still amazing).
  3. The rural area of Phong Nha is beautiful but similar to other areas in the north of Vietnam. If you intend to visit Ninh Binh (you should), then Ninh Binh is more beautiful.
  4. The town of Phong Nha is not interesting. It is just one road with a few hostels and restaurants. So, the nightlife is very limited. You will go to sleep early.
  5. No luxury. The hotels in the center of Phong Nha are OK but not in the standard you will find in other touristic places in Vietnam. See the section : Where to Stay in Phong Nha.
  6. More difficult to reach compared to other destinations. There are 40 Km between the train station (or the airport) and the center of Phong Nha. See the section : How to Arrive.

How long to stay in Phong Nha ?

2 to 3 nights are adequate in order to visit the main attractions (see next page for the attractions).

You may stay more days if you like the rural area and you get emotionally attached to the cows and other animals. You may stay more time also if you want to visit more caves.

How to arrive to Phong Nha ?

Option 1 : With a Bus

In the case of Phong Nha, the bus has an advantage over the train or airplane : The bus brings you to the center of the town. There are a lot of buses between Phong Nha and other Vietnamese cities. From Phong Nha, most of the buses are night buses (with beds). A bus from Phong Nha to Hanoi requires the entire night.

You can book Flights, Trains, Buses and Taxis inside Vietnam with the site 12Go Asia or Baolau . Choose the Origin city and Destination city and it will show you All the available Transports to destination.

Option 2 : With the Train

Look at Maps 1 and 2 and 5 above. The train line Saigon-Hanoi passes close to Phong-Nha.

The train station is at the town of Dong Hoi.

The distance between Dong Hoi and Phong-Nha is around 40 Km.

How to reach Phong-Nha from the train station of Dong Hoi ?

Option 1 : Taxis are waiting for passengers that are arriving on the trains. A taxi ride between the train station and Phong-Nha costs about 400 K Dong (price at the time that I am writing). It is a distance of about 40 Km. Fix the price with the driver before the ride in order to avoid surprises. In order to reduce the cost, try to share the Taxi with other passengers.

Option 2 : If your hotel is very good, they may arrange the transport for you (a driver will wait for you at the train station).

Option 3 : With the public bus. There is a regular bus line between Phong-Nha and Dong Hoi. It is a cheap option, but not an easy one because the public bus starts from another location in Dong Hoi city and not from the train station. So you need to arrive first to the city center (walk or Taxi). Most travelers prefer to share a taxi to Phong-Nha instead of trying to catch the bus.

You can book Flights, Trains, Buses and Taxis inside Vietnam with the site 12Go Asia or Baolau . Choose the Origin city and Destination city and it will show you All the available Transports to destination.

Option 3 : With a Flight

Look at Maps 1 and 2 and 5 above. There is a small airport in Dong Hoi. The airport is located in the same zone of the train station, so 40 Km from Phong-Nha. It could make sense to use a flight if you arrive from Hanoi or Saigon (maybe even Da-Nang and other locations in Vietnam).

How to reach Phong-Nha from the Airport of Dong Hoi ?

Same options as from the train station.

You can book Flights, Trains, Buses and Taxis inside Vietnam with the site 12Go Asia or Baolau . Choose the Origin city and Destination city and it will show you All the available Transports to destination.

Where to Stay in Phong Nha ? – Hotels

Be prepared, you won’t find in Phong Nha the same type of accommodation as in the big cities of Vietnam. Most of the hotels are small “Home Stay”, which means that they are managed by a family. Most of the travelers in Phong Nha are young backpackers, so not a lot of luxury.
The more sophisticated “Home Stay”, are located a few kilometers away from the main town, in the rural area.

Option 1 : Stay in the town center

If you are a solo traveler or if you want to be close to the center of events, then choose your hotel in the town center. You will be close to some restaurants, travel agencies, ATMs, one or two pubs. The boat station to the Phong Nha cave (the main attraction) is also here.

The town center is just one kilometer of a national road. It is not interesting in any way, but still the center.

See Hotels in Phong Nha. After you click and fill the dates, you will see a Map icon. Click on the Map icon and look for an hotel in the zone that you want. The Map is a great way to search for the right hotel (you immediately see the price and the score received by visitors).

Note that there is the Central Backpackers Hostel – Phong Nha (if you want to meet people and maybe party). Located at the center of the town.

I have stayed in the Home Stay : Song Toan. It was very basic, but my room was spacious, quiet and clean + the family is very nice.

Option 2 : Stay in the rural area

You may prefer to stay in a more scenic area instead of the town center. The advantage is the scenery around. The Home Stay may also be more attractive than the one existing in town. The disadvantage is that you depend on the restaurant of the Home Stay and if you want more choice of food you need to travel with a rented motorbike. You may use the services of the Home Stay for transport to the attractions. If you can rent a motorbike, then the distance to the main town is not a problem.

See Hotels in Phong Nha. After you click and fill the dates, you will see a Map icon. Click on the Map icon and look for an hotel in the zone that you want. The Map is a great way to search for the right hotel (you immediately see the price and the score received by visitors).

A “Home Stay” outside the town may look like this :

Much more attractive than the hotels in the town.

How to Move in Phong Nha ? (and arrive to the attractions)

Option 1 : By Motorbike

This is the best way to move around and visit the attractions. The distances are small. The distance from the town and till the Paradise cave is just 28 Km by road.

Where to rent your motorbike ?
From your hotel or from a shop in the town. At the time that I am writing there is only 1 shop in town that is renting motorbikes.

There are 2 problems with the rented motorbikes in Phong Nha :

Problem 1 : The motorbikes are in bad shape. The motorbikes are old and some basic accessories may not work properly, for example the brakes or the lights. So, check the basic functions when you take the motorbike, it is not safe to travel without lights at night.
One reason that the motorbikes are old and damaged is that some roads in the zone are “dirt roads”, so it is not very healthy for the vehicles (in Da-Nang, in contrast, you can rent a brand new motorbike).

The price of rental is between 100 to 150 K Dong a day (at the time that I am writing).

They usually don’t ask you to leave your passport but just a photocopy of it (the motorbikes are not worth much).
Problem 2 :The Gasoline. You need to fill fuel in order to drive with the motorbike. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of big, normal petrol stations in the zone. The person who is renting you the motorbike will want to sell you gasoline from bottles, at an excessive price.

There is a gasoline station near the town. It is a little bit concealed from view. Here are the Google Maps Coordinates.

Note : Even if the motorbike is not worth a lot, you should always park it beside a guard.

Option 2 : By Guided Tour

There are a lot of guided tours to the caves and other attractions. They will transport you to the place.
For the attraction Phong Nha cave, you don’t need transport (if you are sleeping in the town). The boat pier (that takes to the cave) is in town.

Ask your hotel (or the travel agencies in town) and they will propose you guided tours.

Option 3 : By Regular Bike

A cool way to visit the area. Some sports.

How is the Climate in Phong Nha ?

Temperatures

It is generally hot in this zone.
The hottest months are : May, June, July and August. The temperatures are around 32 degrees celsius during the day and 26 at night.
The coldest months are : December, January and February. The temperatures are around 23 degrees celsius during the day and 18 at night.

Rain

Like in all Vietnam there is a rainy season.
In Phong Nha, the rainy season is during the months : September, October, November, and December. The heaviest rain is in September and October with about 350 mm rain. In November, and December about 150 mm.

What to Eat in Phong Nha ?

The food in the small town is not amazing. It is a small place and the choice of restaurants is limited.

My Spring Rolls were not the best I had in Vietnam

Also the Veg burger was not amazing

There are 2 restaurants owned by foreigners and the food is here better (in my personal opinion).

  1. Ganesh Indian Restaurant
  2. Drifter’s Paradise Pizza

In an Indian restaurant, you know what to expect and it is good if you are vegetarian.

If you are staying in a good Home Stay outside town, the food that they are serving may be good, so read the opinions of travelers for each place.

Where to go out at Night in Phong Nha ?

Phong Nha is not a place to party. You will hear in town some music from 2 bars, but they barely attract customers. People go to sleep early in Phong Nha and get ready for the next day with new adventures.

Continue to Page 2 – What to Visit in Phong Nha ?

More on Vietnam :

  On Thailand :

Other Stuff :

If you find incorrect data on this page, like a restaurant that has closed or a big river that has moved or you want to tell me something, please write me to contact.

alienviet