The central Vietnam province of Quang Binh rose to fame in recent years as the phenomenal filming location behind the Hollywood movie Kong – Skull Island. It has turned into one of the country’s most popular destinations, particularly for climbers, trekkers, and fans of speleology.
Quang Binh is famous for its caves, incredible mountain scenery, and its beaches. It has one of the largest density of caves in the world, experts count over 1,000 caves but only some 30 are currently opened to the public. First, a word of advice: trekking and climbing through caves in Quang Binh require experience and safety knowledge. Thus, booking a tour with a trusted provider is recommended. Read on for more Quang Binh travel tips, itinerary ideas and a comprehensive guide to getting there.
Top 6 Things to Do in Quang Binh
1. Get Wet at Phong Nha Cave
One of the most popular caves and national parks in Vietnam, Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is a world-renowned UNESCO Heritage. This natural legacy is nowadays home to lush forests, rugged mountains, and picturesque landscapes. Once served as a hospital during the war, the Phong Nha cave is the longest wet cave or river cave in the world.
Getting there: The most common way to visit Quang Binh is by booking a local tour from your base before you go. You can choose to visit Phong Nha cave and a second one in one trip. It is also possible to go there on your own, purchase a ticket from Quang Binh tourism and rent a local boat to take you there. However, this won’t save your much and cost a bit more time to arrange the trip.
2. Discover a Crystal Paradise
Also located in the Phong Nha Ke-Bang National Park, Paradise Cave was covered by the British Caving Research Association in 2005. It was not until 2010 that the cave is open to all tourists coming to see diverse white crystal stalactites with tons of shapes and sizes. The cave can reach up to 72 kilometers high, 150 meters wide and 31 kilometers long – making it the longest dry cave in Asia.
Paradise Cave can be entered on your own. It is entered through a dry passage, and there is a light system set up along the set of starts followed by a wooden boardwalk within Paradise Cave System, making it easy to venture through the cave. However, booking a tour would allow for exploration deeper into the cave.
Getting there: To get to the Paradise Cave, book a local tour bus or rent a motorbike to get to the entrance, approximately 14km southwest of Son Trach.
3. Zip into the Dark
The Dark cave is an adventurous tourist hotspot as there are so many things you could do here: from zip-lining to swimming, kayaking to trekking.
Entering the cave requires a fun zip line trip over an emerald river, swimming through a tranquil flow, followed by walking through a short dark path. The cave itself consists of mostly basalt, limestone, and wild muddy passages.
Getting there: Dark Cave is about 50 kilometers away from Dong Hoi in Son Trach village, Bo Trach town.
4. Visit the Film Set of Kong – Skull Island
One of the filming locations of the blockbuster film Kong – Skull Island, the Tu Lan Cave system consists of over 10 caves in total, originally discovered in 1992 and explored further in 2012. Crossing the area, you will get to trek through wild jungles, buffalo fields, gigantic limestone mountains and mysterious underground river.
You will also get the chance to experience sleeping under the stars in a hammock or a tent next to the campfire, swimming through dark river caves surrounded by limestone mountains, and taking in tranquil lakes and dazzling waterfalls.
Getting there: Tu Lan Cave system is about 70 kilometers way from Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, next to Tan Hoa village.
5. Camp Out at Hang En Cave
Hang En is the world’s third largest cave. It is famous for its vast limestone caves, dense jungle and a beach with clear water and white sand. Discovered in 1994 by a famous British explorer, Hang En has ‘rooms’ standing 320 feet night and spanning up to 600 feet across. This hidden natural treasure is still an off-the-beaten-track for tourists to Quang Binh. Trekking through En Caves requires at least 2 days, including one night at an overnight camp.
Getting there: Experiencing Hang En is only possible with tours by the officially appointed travel agency, Oxalis.
6. Walk into Another World
Also discovered by the British Cave Research Association in 2009-2010 and open for visitors just in 2013, Son Doong Cave is known as the largest cave in the world. It is said that a Boeing 747 could easily land inside the cave!
Most visitors have often the feeling of being on another planet, where spectacular stalactites and stalagmites rise from nowhere while jungles emerge even within the cave complex, due to huge skylights created by the collapse of weak limestone.
Getting there: Experiencing Son Doong Cave is only possible with tours by the officially appointed travel agency, Oxalis. Guided treks through Son Doong are carried out during February to August and requires a full week of hiking and camping. Even with its US$3,000+ price tag, getting a place on the tour will require at least a year, due to its popularity.
How to get to Quang Binh?
A good base from which to explore Quang Binh province is its capital city of Dong Hoi. Domestic flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City arrive and depart from Dong Hoi Airport, 6 km north of the city. Trains arrive at Dong Hoi Station. From here, you can either book a tour or rent a car or motorbike to explore the caves on your own.
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Flights to Dong Hoi
Domestic flights within Vietnam:
- Vietnam Airlines and Bamboo Airways operate flights from Hanoi to Dong Hoi.
- Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific and VietJet Air operate flights from Ho Chi Minh to Dong Hoi.
Trains to Dong Hoi
- For travelers with time on their side, there are frequent trains making the 21-hour-and-up journey from Ho Chi Minh to Dong Hoi, which offers 4- and 6-berth sleeper cabins.
- From Hanoi, the train journey to Dong Hoi will take 9 to 11 hours.
- Other popular tourist routes are from Da Nang (approximately 6 hours) and Hue (approximately 3 hours) to Dong Hoi.
Book your plane, train and bus tickets to Quang Binh online
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