The Ultimate Guide To Phong Nha Ke Bang

Phong Nha Ke Bang in Quang Binh is well-known as a national park of significant importance of Central Vietnam, aside from its stunning beauty. It comprises cave Phong Nha and limestone mountain area Ke Bang, forming a diverse ecosystem, conserving and protecting one of the world’s largest Karst structures. However, it is not all caves and stones, you will get the chance to go boating, kayaking, swimming and venturing through the forests to observe the local exotic ecosystems.

Read away to plan your trip to the gorgeous Phong Nha Ke Bang, from where to go, things to do, to what to eat, as well as means of transportation, including all basic expenses.

Phong Nha Ke Bang Brief

When to visit Phong Nha Ke Bang?

Climate and weather

The typical Monsoon Tropical Climate dominates Quang Binh. In addition, it is constantly influenced by both the Northern and the Southern climate, ultimately resulting in two distinct seasons:

Dry season (April – August): suitable for exploring the stunning caves in Phong Nha Ke Bang. While the typical outside temperature typically remains around 36 – 37°C, it is only 20 – 21°C, definitely cool for the summer.

Rainy season (September – March): Together with the colder weather due to the Northeast monsoon, heavy rains are the usual occurrence. Owing to the rising water level, tour boats into Phong Nha cave might not be possible. However, other dry caves such as Tien Son, Thien Duong are still open to visitors.

Phong Nha Ke Bang Weather

Best time to visit

Hence, the best time to visit Phong Nha Ke Bang is no doubt the dry season. The beautiful sunny weather is suitable for all activities including boating. Do check the temperature before being on your way to dress and pack accordingly.

However, if you can only visit in the rainy season, worry not! You can still enjoy the dry caves and other activities on land regardless, as long as they are not negatively affected by the heavy rain and safe for tourists. Just make sure to pack well for the rain and the colder weather so as to avoid getting sick. Bring mosquitoes repellent spray if needed.

How to get there?



By flight: You can take a plane from the two big cities of Vietnam (Hanoi & HCM City) to Dong Hoi Airport in Quang Binh. Price from Saigon starts from as cheap as $48, while flying from Hanoi costs double that price.

From Dong Hoi Airport, you can either:


Number B4. Step outside of the terminal, walk to the main road and turn right, you can easily catch the bus, taking approximately 90 min.
First bus is at 5.20 am. Last bus is at 5:20 pm. (for both routes)

Price: 40.000 VND/route ($1.7)

Do keep in mind that the bus is in quite bad shape. In addition, when you walk out of the terminal, a lot of taxi drivers may invite you to take their ride, shake your head and keep walking to refuse.


You can rent a car and explore Phong Nha Ke Bang and many more yourself. Price starts from 1.000.000 VND ($43). Keep in mind about the parking price as well.


Otherwise, enjoy your freedom on a rented motorbike. Do keep in mind about the driving license if the motorcycle is above 150cc. Always wear a helmet for your own safety as well.

160.000 VND/day ($6.88)


Taking a personal taxi definitely offers more ease, comfort and speed. It takes about an hour. In return, it is significantly more expensive, around 500.000 VND ($21.5).


It is not indicated clearly how much it costs. However, make sure to ask for the price and haggle before hopping on.


If you are staying in Central Vietnam, closer to Quang Binh like Hue, Da Nang, Vinh to name a few, you can always take the train to Dong Hoi.

  • From Hanoi: ranges around $33 – $49, taking around 10 hours.
  • From Hue: $17 – $22, taking around 4 hours.
  • From Da Nang: $22 – $31, taking around 6.5 hours.
  • From Vinh: $17 – $19, taking around 5 hours.
  • From Ho Chi Minh City: $50 – $82, taking around 24 hours.

Similarly, there are a variety of ways to get from the train station in Dong Hoi to Phong Nha. If you intend to take the bus, take this advice from a fellow traveller: “Exit the train station, walk directly up the street, turn left and go to the roundabout. Turn left again and walk to the bottom of the hill over a short bridge to the next roundabout. Turn left again and about 300 m there’s a bus stop with a covered seating area on the left hand side of the street. Just in front of the local market. About 1 1/2 km from the train station.” (Tripadvisor).


Taking a bus is also an option. The bus will pick up passengers at designated places, the cost of which is:

  • From Hanoi: 200000 – 250000 VND ($8.6 – $10.8)
  • From Da Nang: 125000 – 200000 VND ($5.4 – $8.6)


For adventurous spirits, rent a motorcycle and be on your way! If you do:

  • From Hanoi, follow the national highway 1A for about 550km, then take the Ho Chi Minh trail for roughly 600km. You will arrive in Dong Hoi after about 9 – 10 hours.
  • From Da Nang, you can either follow the national highway 1A, approximately 309 km. When you pass the beautiful Hai Van Pass, do not forget to stop and take a picture! Otherwise, you can drop by Hue and hang out there first, for which, by the way, we also have an ultimate guide for!
  • From Hue, go through Bach Ho Bridge, into Le Duan str., Ly Thai To str. and Ly Nhan Tong str., and head towards Dien Bien Phu/National Highway 9. After around 11km, turn onto Ho Chi Minh trail for another 3.1 km. Turn left into ĐT20 (Province Highway 20) and you will arrive at Phong Nha Ke Bang.

Otherwise, contact a local travel agency for ease of mind on planning and travelling!

How to get around?

Transport in Phong Nha Ke Bang


You can rent a car with or without a driver to travel through the area and explore on your own. However, make sure to plan well to know where you need to go.


Likewise, you can rent a motorbike for easy transport, especially if you have previously chosen the motorcycle to travel to Phong Nha. If you rent one in Phong Nha for a day, it costs around 100000 – 200000 VND/day ($4.3 – $8.6).


Bicycle is as good of a choice, however, is obviously a lot slower and takes more effort. Nevertheless, it is suitable for families and groups seeking for some quality time together.

Most guesthouses have tons of bicycles available for rent, costing as little as $3 (or free) for the whole day.

Where to go in Phong Nha Ke Bang?

Top Attractions

Phong Nha Cave

Being considered to be the longest wet cave for its fascinating connection with other caves in the region, Phong Nha Cave ranks among the top 5 most beautiful caves in the world. From its marvelous underground river, sandbanks and reefs, underground lake, to its colorful and delicately carved by mother-nature stalagmites and stalactites, whatever it is, Phong Nha Cave never ceases to astound visitors. In order to explore, you will take on a boat trip into the cave system, observing the dazzling limestones and gleaming water. Notably, various animals’ lives can also be seen near the entrance under the sunlight and in the dark. Not to mention all of the fossils formed possibly hundreds of millions of years ago, ready to blow your mind.

Phong Nha Cave
Credit: hds

Entrance fee:

150,000 VND/person ($6.45)

Children under 1.3m (4.3ft):

Boating: (life jackets fully equipped)

360,000 VND/boat/12 people including children ($15.5)

Thien Duong Cave Phong Nha Ke Bang
Credit: Hung Ho

Thien Duong Cave

Literally named Paradise, the cave does wonders to your mind after the visit, with its out-of-this-world charm. The longest dry cave in Asia will indeed be worth it to be on your bucket list.

During the first kilometer of the cave, travellers will be walking on a wooden bridge, looking up the golden stalactites growing out of the ceiling layers after layers. Seeing the lights dancing on the limestones, it would feel as if you were in an elegantly decorated ballroom.

Paradise Cave - Dong Thien Duong
Credit: Clarence MICHEL
Thien Duong Cave Oculus
Credit: Kenh14
Credit: Mark Hollowell

Leaving the wooden road, travellers can take up the challenge and walk 6km more to end up at the end of the cave, where one can see the oculus, “the eye to the heavens”. This is due to the hole on the ceiling of the cave allowing sun rays to beam through, creating a mesmerizing, almost dreamlike, scene you would not want to miss. However, the subsequent 6km journey is considerably more dangerous compared with walking on the wooden bridge, as stated by experts. Therefore, it is suggested that only experienced cave explorers and adventurous spirits in good health should follow through.

Entrance fee:

250,000 VND/person ($10.75)

Children 1.1m – 1.3m (3.6ft – 4.3ft): 125,000 VND ($5.4)

Children under 1.1m (3.6ft): Free

Electric Car Service:

4-seat: One-way: 60,000 VND/car ($2.6)

             Roundtrip: 100,000 VND/car ($4.3)

6-seat: One-way: 90,000 VND/car ($3.9)

              Roundtrip: 150,000 VND ($6.5)

8-seat: 200,000 VND/car/way ($8.6)

14-seat: 350,000 VND/car/way ($15.1)

Tien Son Cave

As suggested by its name, Tien Son Cave is a fairy-like kingdom of limestones. It is 200m above Phong Nha cave. Climbing up, one can see the panoramic view of the surrounding breathtaking paddy fields. Although it is right above Phong Nha cave, they are not at all connected. However, it would be a shame to just visit one without the other. What makes Tien Son Cave especially differ from Phong Nha Cave is the hollow sound you can hear when knocking lightly onto the limestones, which sounds like a distant drum beat. These colorful columns of fossils also has a love story to it, of a man and a fairy, which explains its enchanting appearance.

Tien Son Cave Phong Nha Ke Bang
Credit: Ngọc Sơn

Entrance fee:

80,000 VND/person ($3.4)

Children below 1.3m (4.3ft): Free

Boating for both Phong Nha and Tien Son Caves:

400,000 VND/boat/12 people including children ($17.2)

Chay River – Dark Cave

This is one of the more adventurous destinations owing to heavy actions included in the process to get to the attractions. In order to arrive at Chay River – Dark Cave, you have two options and your choice would depend on your plan for the trip in Phong Nha Ke Bang. You can either take a boat from Phong Nha Boat Station and tackle the Son River by going against the stream, then pass by Phong Nha Cave to get to the intersection of 3 rivers: Son River, Chay River and Trooc River. Following Chay River for around 5km, you will reach the Dark Cave. You will return the boat at Tro Mong Park Ranger Station. Otherwise, if you want to start from Chay River – Dark Cave before visiting Phong Nha Cave, take a boat at Tro Mong Park Ranger Station and go the other way around.

Chay River Phong Nha Ke Bang
Credit: Vert l'Aventure Plein Air
Dark Cave
Credit: Saalfeld Feengrotten
Chay River Phong Nha Ke Bang
Credit: Phong Nha Explorer

Chay River

On Chay River, you can try out zip-line swinging from Chay River Animal Observation Station to the entrance of the Dark Cave and swim inside, which is a relatively new service built and open to tourists. Before heading inside the Dark Cave, travellers can swim around or go kayaking on the forever turquoise water of Chay River.

Dark Cave

Before entering the Dark Cave, make sure you have your headlight on. The reason why it was named “Dark” is literally because they never installed lights inside the cave. Moreover, the darkness inside the cave is so dense that it is almost as if you could touch darkness itself. Thus, explorers will swim and walk through the cave in its most natural state, filled with numerous fossils dating back to hundreds of millions of years ago. At the end of the passage, there will be a mud bath awaiting. A fun mud bath in the dark with headlights on is surely an experience you would not have in a spa in the city.

Dark Cave Phong Nha Ke Bang
Credit: Евгений Жуков
Credit: Jungle Boss

Entrance fee:

  • Adults and Children above 1.3m (4.3ft) weighing 40 – 90kg (88 – 198 lb): 450,000 VND/person ($19.4)

(all services included: zipline to the Dark Cave, zipline on Chay River, games, kayaking, mud bathing, etc.)

  • Children 1 – 1.3m (3.3 – 4.3ft): 150,000 VND/person ($6.5)

(zipline, kayaking and other thrilling rides/games not included)

  • Children under 1m (3.3ft): Free

(only baby swimming pool allowed)

Nuoc Mooc Stream

This relaxing stream flowing to Chay River starts from seemingly nowhere, hence, the name “mooc”, meaning to grow in the local dialect. Apparently, the water “mooc” from the steep mountain and flows out endlessly, creating the calming Nuoc Mooc Stream.

Make sure to bring your swimsuit to take a dip into the cool water. The alluring landscapes overwhelmed with the fiery colors of the saraca dives flowers and fluttering white wings of butterflies is surely an effective charm without magic. Ease your legs, minds and bones when sinking into the water after venturing through caves after caves.

Nuoc Mooc Stream Phong Nha Ke Bang
Credit: Phong Nha Explorer
Nuoc Mooc Stream
Credit: Dulich24

Entrance fee:

180,000 VND/person ($7.7)

Children: 100,000 VND/person ($4.3)

(all services included: swimming, kayaking, life jackets, etc.)


Adult and Children over 1.3m (4.3ft): 80,000 VND/person ($3.4)

Children under 1.3m (4.3ft): Free

Gio Waterfall Phong Nha Ke Bang
Credit: Phong Nha Explorer
Botanic Garden
Credit: Phong Nha Explorer

Entrance fee of the Botanic Garden:

40,000 VND/person ($1.7)

Children under 1.3m (4.3ft): Free

Gio Waterfall and the Botanic Garden

Want a more museum-like experience? Visit the Botanic Garden. Go through their sample collections of rare plants and animals of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park from their earliest stage, all of which contribute to scientific research. Then drop by their Animals Rehabilitation Center to observe the daily job of workers and animals before getting returned back to its natural habitats. Travellers can also relax and take a quick swim in Vang Anh Lake, glistening under the sunlight. Or else, come see the colorful peacocks! If lucky, you might even be able to see with your own eyes their graceful dancing with its tail. Who needs Discovery Channel when you can see the live show yourself? If you are a forest lover, continue down the road to the woods to satisfy your inner wanderlust.

For a change of pace, land at the magnificent Gio Waterfall, surrounded by the diversity of over 500 types of trees. Peacefully gazing at the greenaries, while listening to the chirping birds and dimmingly noisy waterfall in the background, will definitely make your whole trip.

Tam Co Cave

Tam Co Cave is closely related to a historical event in the Vietnam War. The Cave lies on Road 20 – To Win, one of the most vital roads to transport weapons, foods and fuels into the Southern Battlefield. Knowing this, the American troops continuously bombed the area with a view to cutting this important knot. 8 people from the Youth Pioneers died while on a mission during a bombing session as a huge rock blocked the entrance of the cave they were hiding in. This resulted in its ultimate name, Tam Co, meaning “eight ladies”. This is a fairly popular destination for people seeking spiritual tourism.

Tam Co Cave Phong Nha Ke Bang
Credit: Thanh Nien
Son Doong Cave Phong Nha Ke Bang
Credit: Hopetech
son doong cave phong nha
Credit: Raphael Bick

Son Doong Cave

The show has only just started. Son Doong has recently been certified to be the largest cave in the world, connecting over 150 other caves of Vietnam. It was first discovered by a local man in 1991. However, it was not until 2009 that experts arrived at the scene and explore the massive cave properly. It is 150m wide (492ft), 200m high (656ft) and 9km long (5.6 mile), well surpassing the second largest, Deer Cave of Malaysia. It now holds the reputation of the largest natural cave on Earth known to mankind.

Son Doong is definitely not large to just be empty on the inside, of course. Gigantic stalagmites and stalactites formed after millions of years flicker under the little sun rays that sneaked into the cave. The underground stream also endlessly flows, creating an enormous pool inside the cave. At certain cliffs, waterfalls can even be seen overflowing. Not to mention the jungles growing where there is sunlight, diverse in both animals and trees building their own habitats.

As impressive as that sounds, so as to enter Son Doong, due to its dangerous nature, travellers cannot wander on their own, but are only allowed to follow on tours. In such case, only experienced travellers in good health condition should participate in this owing to the heavy amount of trekking, climbing and other cave exploring related activities.

Swift Cave

Behold the third largest cave in the entire world! If you miss your chance to visit Son Doong, Swift Cave could be an alternative choice. The cave is named after the swift bird because millions of swift nests can be seen inside the enormous cave as they inhabit the place. Surrounded by jungles, an interesting ecosystem formed supporting lives of various animals and trees, including birds, butterflies and insects. All of them create a breathtakingly stunning landscape, making Swift Cave stand out even more among the world’s beauty. This untouched, well-conserved site is perfect for active souls who seek for trekking and camping activities. Miles of venturing through jungles, over lakes and streams as well as into the cave will surely become the highlight of your trip to Vietnam. Similar to Son Doong cave, Swift Cave can only be accessed through tours.

Credit: Raphael Bick

What to do in Phong Nha Ke Bang?

Top activities

1. Explore the caves

Caves are probably what you came for in the first place. Exploring these masterpieces carved by mother-nature that take millions of years to take the form it has today. 195 countries, 7 continents, and two of the largest caves in the entire world to have ever been discovered to date happen to be in Vietnam. Fascinated? What’s more, you can visit them both on your trip to Phong Nha Ke Bang in Quang Binh if you want to. Awesome? Not sure whether you have a budget or how to plan wisely? Contact a local agency for consultation!

In addition, caves are not that intimidating. It is true that exploration is more suitable for  experienced people who are interested in stamina-demanding activities such as trekking, mountain climbing and so on. Inexperienced people can still take up other fun activities that does not require as much energy, yet still providing them with the opportunity to travel by boats, walk inside the caves, observe the fossils and the growing stalagmites and stalactites, swimming and so on, which are on the safer spectrum.

Phong Nha Cave Phong Nha Ke Bang

2. Wander in nature

The whole point of coming to Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park is, of course, to surround yourself with nature, away from the city lights. Heard you call yourself a wanderlust? If so, do not just “cave” in. Venture through jungles, jump into lakes, row against the current, go wild! See for yourself all of the exotic animals, green trees, chirping birds, fluttering butterfly wings and so much more! Otherwise, hit the botanic garden for some insights on what kind of scientific research they are working on in the national park.

Phong Nha Ke Bang
Credit: Thomas Rotte

3. Participate in group activities

Overall, by now you may have figured that this trip is more suitable for people travelling in groups because the more the merrier. From pulling risky stunts in the caves, long-hour trekking across the jungle, rowing across the river, to all fun and games like casually sitting on boats, swimming, kayaking, mud bathing, swinging on ziplines, etc. All for what? Have fun and take 10 pictures of each pose to make sure everyone’s eyes are open and, if lucky, everybody is looking great!

Even if you brought children, you can still spend some quality family time thanks to the available tickets/services for children to make sure they stay safe and enjoy their time in Phong Nha Ke Bang.

Phong Nha Ke Bang
Credit: Baomoi

What to eat in Phong Nha Ke Bang?


Chao Canh

Chao canh, meaning porridge and soup in Vietnamese, or so it seems!? In reality, it is not at all like the name it was given. Although even Vietnamese may not be familiar with this dish, it is iconic among people in Quang Binh and considered to have the level of significance of Pho in Hanoi. However, while you can enjoy pho anytime during the day, chao canh is specifically made for breakfast, the dish to get your morning started. In addition, it is not as overly popularized as pho has become. Hence, people of Quang Binh are still able to preserve the authentic flavour in the broth, the fish meat, shrimp, pork, veggies and the chewy noodles. This pairs extremely well with snakehead meat, which kicks the dish up a notch, enough to make you do the Italian Chef Kiss!

Sometimes, local people enjoy chao canh with a few fried spring rolls. A weird combination, you might think. Guess what? They think so, too! Nevertheless, since they have been eating it that way for years and years, it seems to have grown on them, apparently. Next time you are in Phong Nha Ke Bang, or even just step your foot in Quang Binh, make sure to call for an iconic bowl of hot soupy “chao canh – nem cha”.

Chao Canh Phong Nha Ke Bang
Credit: Tin Quang Binh

Banh Bot Loc

You may or may not have tried this dish in Hue. This chewy tapioca dumpling is pure happiness wrapped in banana leaves. Its clear appearance offers a peek into the shrimps, meat and mushroom pieces. It can be eaten on its own, or with a Vietnamese bowl of sweet and sour dipping sauce. Either way, due to its small portion, be careful or else you may have swallowed 5 of them before you realize.

Banh bot loc Phong Nha Ke Bang
Credit: Chudu24

Bloating Fern-shaped cake (Banh beo)

Once again, this rice cake can also be enjoyed in other parts of Vietnam, such as Hue. The orange dried shrimpies is sprinkled on top together with greaves, all of which is dipped lightly into fish sauce. The taste is guaranteed to leave you weak in the knees.

Banh Beo Phong Nha Ke Bang
Credit: Tour Quang Binh

Bombay Duck Hotpot (Lau Ca Khoai)

Did you know Bombay Duck is a fish? Put it in your hotpot with tomatoes and veggies. Such a simple dish yet tastes amazing and great to enjoy with friends and family. Or else, have a one-person hotpot because who cares? You are just trying to enjoy good food.

Steaming fresh Bombay Duck with chewable bones, sweet meat is best enjoyed during November and December, as suggested by foody experts. 

Bombay Duck Hotpot Phong Nha Ke Bang
Credit: Cookpad

Sea snake (Den Bien)

Level up and challenge yourself with this seemingly intimidating ingredient – snakes. It is not just any snakes, but sea snakes. Local chefs here use them for stir-fried, fried spring rolls, porridge and so on. Pick a few and try some for yourselves, while drinking sea snake wine for the full snake-perience because why not?

Sea snake rolls Phong Nha Ke Bang
Sea snake rolls Credit: Bếp Vàng

Western/Foreign Foods

Due to the high volume of foreign travellers, some restaurants in Phong Nha Ke Bang does not have Vietnamese menus, but are fully equipped with English ones. If you miss your recharging greasy burgers, fun cheese pizza or typical pasta, drop by the Western/Foreign restaurants, offering a variety of Western/foreign foods to satisfy your cravings.

Phong Nha Underground (Italian, American, Vegetarian): DT20 Rd., Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park.

Nhà Hàng Ấn Độ Omar’s Namaste (Indian, Muslim, Vegetarian): DT20 Rd., Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, beside Heritage By Night.

Capture Vietnam Café (Italian, American, European, Vegetarian): Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, on the main road next to Easy Tiger Hostel.



phong nha underground phong nha ke bang
Credit: Tripadvisor