- On 14/04/2018
- In Chưa được phân loại
National Park, Phong Nha Cave tour.
There are plenty of activities to do in Phong Nha, sights to see and foods to try. If you can only stop for a short while in this beautiful national park, the day tour is definitely the best way to absorb as much as you can. While my immediate recommendation would be to partake in one of the less well known and so more private and secluded cave tours such as Ruc Mon, I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty and splendour of these more commonly frequented caves. There definitely is a reason they are popular and that people keep going to visit them. Not only good for groups bus hopping from town to town, the day tour serves as an opportunity for solo travellers to enjoy the experience of the Phong Nha Ke Bang caves with like-minded explorers.
The day began at around 8.30am, a pickup time feasible even for a lazy traveller like me to be up and ready. Firstly we headed to the Botanic Gardens along the winding road outside of town; it is a gloriously green park with a monkey rehabilitation centre. Just before the start of the walk in a small room, there is a myriad of animals preserved in jars that are both fascinating and horrific at the same time. And although the quality of taxidermy leaves room for improvement a quick peek in is a must. The bulging glass eyes are probably a pretty accurate representation of how the little guys feel! The loop walk begins pretty easy and gets a little more challenging closer to the waterfall as it dips down and backs up the other side. The rocks were easy enough to manoeuvre about whilst off road enough to be fun. The path offers lots of photo opportunities along the way and unless you are one (no judgments here!), you can play ‘spot the selfie addict’ in your group.
After a quick toilet break, we jumped back in the van for the most scenic part of the journey, on the way the views alongside the road open up and the dramatic Karst Mountain is in full view. The face of which varies from stark rock to lush steep forests. When we reached Paradise Cave we were given another bottle of water, which I recommend accepting. The walk to the cave is not too long and is a really nice way to get active given the amount of sitting on my arse I usually do! It starts off flat and is a pleasant and shady meander to the ticket office, once through the barriers the walk continues at an increased level of inclination. Definitely doable for all levels of fitness though it is pretty steep, the path remains shaded and surrounded by trees and wildlife. Once we reached the top it was satisfying to look across the valley to the neighbouring hills and feel accomplished. Our guide gave us the low down about the cave, some information and a little question-answer session to which hilariously no one knew any answers to. We then got to explore the cave by ourselves, for me it was a nice moment I took for myself to wander around alone. The cave is absolutely huge and despite being lit up by stage lights, it is truly beautiful. It wasn’t too cold and the wooden pathway built for visitors allows for your brain to just wind down and take it all in. I figure it also serves as protection against erosion to preserve the inside of the cave. When the whole group reappeared we set off down some steps back towards the van and because we were obviously VIP tourists we got to ride the buggy car back along the first track. Now normally I’d prefer to walk, but knowing that lunch was waiting at the other leg of the tour I happily accepted the cushioned seat and gave my legs a deserved rest. After about another 20 minute drive we arrived at the restaurant for lunch where I was pleasantly surprised. This is no half-assed lunch, this is a lunch for the hungry. There was a huge spread of both western and Vietnamese dishes: fries, salads, meats, vegetables, tofu, rice and fruit. We had plenty of time to eat and sit a little to digest afterwards. Then we headed off towards the boat station, the final part of the drive is through some more countryside and then the small towns leading up to Phong Nha and as I’ve already spent a fair bit of time sitting and watching the world go by in Vietnam I took the opportunity for a dozy daydream. Any half day trippers jumped out before we got to the boat station.
Before this tour, I had sat on the riverfront with my ginger tea and watched the boats chug down the river, as relaxing as that was it doesn’t compare to actually riding it. In utter bliss I sat in the generally undesired front seat for a little sunbathing, so whilst the group took refuge in the shade I took full advantage of the weather to tan. Phong Nha Cave was wonderful, with the boat engine turned off your oarsman work impressively hard so you can chill out and gaze upwards to the roof of the cave. The water is cool to the touch and the gentle ripples created as you float on through are very soothing. Not as dramatically tall as the Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Cave has a completely different feel to it and offers its own sort of wonder. We got to get off the boat to walk through the widening caverns and loop around to the entrance to meet the boat and head back to the hostel.
As sceptical as I am about organized tours, this is a really good way to squeeze a lot into one day. The cost covers all transport, food, water and entrance fees which all add up. The Green Land national park tours are something I definitely recommend to all Phong Nha Ke Bang visitors.