I had a nice trip with Lee, a lovely tour guide, who helped us to have a really good time even thought the time being in car was long. Just a single day is quite short to visit all the beautiful places at Phong Nha Ke Bang but that’s enough to surprise me how amazing that National Park is.
There would be a minivan that comes to pick you up at your accommodation. Depend on where you were in the city, the company servicers could come to pick you up at about between 6:30 to 7:30 by minivan or transfer bus.
Lee had called me in once from last nice and again in the early morning to make sure I would not be late. I had an hour since his last call to fill my starving stomach. Viet food is really heaven and I could easily something good even it’s early morning.
The tour price including water service, lunch time, insurance, visiting ticket, bus transfer and lovely tour guide. That’s a lot for a whole day. Depend on which place you booked for a visiting, it can cost from 26$-35$ that single day Hue-Phong Nha Ke Bang tour. Bus condition is quite comfortable with air conditioner equipment and soft seat.
It takes 4 hours transfer from Hue to Phong Nha Ke Bang but only one and a half hour to reach the first destination. After passing the 17th parallel of latitude, the bus stopped at “Our Lady of La vang”-an ancient Roman Catholic sanctuary for a break.
The old church was destroyed in the 19th century when Catholics were being persecuted in Vietnam by the government of the day, and the remains we see today stand peacefully in the countryside of what is known today as the DMZ. In the meantime there is a most beautiful outdoor church being used for services. Behind the old church, a new cathedral is being built, which would take another more years to complete.
We get there at exactly 12:00 pm. The first scene beat a super big surprise to my face! The fascinating mountains and wild forests surely can make you to feel like to be in another world.
The restaurant is right next to the boat leaving for Phong Nha cave. It’s a bit crowded inside. The nice food was served on a rolling table for a group of ten like the way Vietnamese families do. If you don’t use chopsticks, just ask for a fork or spoon. You can totally order vegetable meal when booking the day before.
At about 1:30. We started visiting Phong Nha cave by boating there. The scene around the river was peaceful. Noisiness and stressfulness do not exist here. There are much more houses around the dock than closer to the cave.
It takes about 20 minutes boating until reaching the entrance. After that, only way to get into the cave is hand rowing. Boat’s roof would be lifted out so that you can see all around inside. It’s very cool once you get in despite of hot tropical weather that day. There were some electric lights inside the cave but it’s still quite dark.
The flow of water in the mountains associated with limestone at the stalactite created many different shapes that make up the uniqueness of the Phong Nha cave.
We are just allow to visit <1km inside. If you want to go further (4500m long Phong Nha cave), you need to book a kayak tour (at about 100$) then you would see the sky well at the end of the cave.
That river is not so deep in dry season, less than 150cm (59inch) so it’s quite safe for dipping your body even if you can’t swim. Anyway, safe jacket is required during visiting.
There are some stair up inside the cave that leads back to the entrance. The river from inside Phong Nha is very lovely and magnific. There would be a while for you to walk around, enjoy the stunning sun and the wind, deep your feet inside the sapphire blue river.
Phong Nha is the first cave in the area that opened to the public. The US Army dropped over a thousand bombs in Central Vietnam including this area during the Vietnam War. Phong Nha cave was actually used during this time as a hospital and a place to hide from the bombs. There should have been so many items left over from the war left in the caves, but floods come every year and sweep away what’s inside. However, the stories left in the memories of the locals haven’t been washed away.
Phong Nha is located at the poorest area of Vietnam. There are about 400 tourist boat alternative serve here. Approximately one time per week, a boat has one change. The benefit they can get each time is about 250,000 vnd (~11,5$). Life there is not easy, but somehow people take care of each other, live nicely and sincerely.
We started to back Hue at about 4:30 pm. It takes about 4 hours to the city. The bus would stop at the mini supermarket on the road to take a rest. If you are lucky enough, there would be some mangoes left from a local woman who sells fruit sitting right next too the door.
Extra: some unexpected things would happened and how to have a nice trip
There are many groups of tourists on bus on that single-day tour. Surely know your destination for not to be lost and keep in mind the words of the tour guide about time and place where you should be.
In case a person has lost his group, it takes time for Lee to bring that one by his moto bike in to where he should be, but no worry, there would never cut off the time of your visiting.
Bring with some snacks because you would be hungry on the way back home.
Happy and safe travelling.
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