Hardly 1h flight from the capital and 30mn car trip lies an incredible gem: Welcome to Phong Nha!
Phong Nha is a very interesting place for its particular history: the Ho Chi Minh trail was a military supply route running from Northern Vietnam through Laos and Cambodia to the South Vietnam. The route sent weapons, manpower, ammunition and other supplies from communist-led North Vietnam to their supporters in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was massively bombed during the war and people used to hide in the natural caves of the area.
It is now famous for happier reasons: its breathtaking caves and incredible Natural park.
Last but not least, it is (mark my words) super clean, not polluted and calm! Our little family of 4 (Maelle and Leandre are 10 and 8) loved every minute of it.
This should be enough information to book your room Phong Nha farmstay right away. The rooms are great and the owners make you feel really at home. They organized all our visits and offered many more options, like biking, surfing and early walks .
Most of the day visits are about 50 dollars per person, but totally worth it !
On day 1, Paradise Cave, Dark Cave, kayaking and swimming
It has 31.4km length, from 60-150m with wind, with many beautiful stalacties and stalacmites. The British Caving Association has evaluated it as the most beautiful and longest dry cave in Asia!
We did only the short tour of 1km but you can be more adventurous and go for the 4 or 7 km. Hope we can do it again when the kids will be older.
We then visited the Dark Cave and had a little spa session in a mud bath before a healthy lunch break. Then we all had a great time jumping in the cold, turquoise water from the zip line and kayaking around.
Day 2: A day trip to the National park!
We visited the Elephant Cave where our lovely guide Sara gave the kids the most lively course on sedimentation. Then we explored the jungle for a couple of hours (make sure you have the right hiking shoes, long trousers and socks so the leeces don’t pay you a bloody visit!) before exploring another cave. And don’t forget the mosquito repellent!
Our 8 and 10 y.o. loved the hiking, jumping and rock climbing but, I wouldn’t recommend it for young children. Especially if it has rained before, as it can get a bit challenging.
Day 3: Half day trip to the rubber taping plantation.
We needed to recover from the previous hike so this was enough. Impressive (little) journey to the plantation where the kids learnt how to tap rubber and had a little swing over the green mountains before chilling by the pool.
We had the afternoon off to learn about de-mining. You can ask Ben, from the Phog Nga Farmstay, to help you in booking a visit with the deminers from MAG.
Special mention for our guides from Jungle Boss who were super professional. If you get a chance to tour with Sarah (that’s her English name), ask her about her English classes. Twice a week, she is also teaching kids of her village, between 8 and 13. Most of the parents have left the province to work in factories in Japan and Korea, and have been away from their kids for 2 years, so most of these kids live with their grand parents.
Sarah was super excited to invite us to her class so her students could eventually practice with “natives”. My kids turned into teachers and played with their new friends for 2 hours and it was such a fun experience. I am sure she would be delighted to have you, too. Don’t be shy, ask, and I garantee you a really great time!