Tuesday, 25 February 2014


But it doesn’t end there, Phong Nha keeps dishing up the natural attractions, grab a boat from the tourist office, if you are alone or just a couple, wait around until you have enough people, it won’t take long.  Or organize the night before with people from your guesthouse or over a cold beer at the Easy Tiger, you pay 350k ($35 au) dong for the boat, so the more people you have, the cheaper it is.  This will take you up the river and into the Phong Nha cave.

The Phong Nha Cave is a small opening in a huge limestone cliff face that is accessed by river, they will paddle you in and then drop you off to wander around the cave system.  I didn’t get the full story, but it was used during the Vietnam war to hide out and store boats, supplies etc and I’m pretty sure it was used as a ‘highway’ that came out somewhere else.  You can see marks in the first cavern where US airforce pilots had sent missiles in to stop this supply, but failed.

Just the riding around the area alone make it worth the trip, plus the town just has this aura that draws you in and I fell in love with the place instantly, as do most that visit.  The amount of people that come for a day or 2 and stay longer is unbelievable, some of them never leave!

  As soon as I spent a little time here I thought ‘what a place to invest and setup a business’, the place is lacking so many facilities here that an outsider investing and helping the locals would actually be welcomed.

I pretty much spent my time here going on different rides through the National Park, swimming when warm enough, lazy afternoons at ‘The pub with cold beer’, back to the caves, meeting new travelers by the fire at night, generally just enjoying the abundant beauty of the place and the unique vibe about the place.  You could get ‘trapped’ here if you’re not careful!

The traveler’s I met here were some of the best people I have gotten to know over the last 2 years and I have formed many friendships here that will outlive just our time in Phong Nha.  But I am getting side tracked giving you all the tourist info. 

I originally came to town for 2 nights and ended up staying 5 before I decided to head back to Dong Hoi and get the rest of my gear.  With Tet coming up it was either find somewhere new and wait it out there or stay here.  Not much of a decision really.

During Tet, all transport is pretty much sold out and it is a really bad time to be moving as a lot of places are closed, no Vietnamese wants to work over Tet.  I ended up staying 2 weeks there, riding, exploring, swimming, caving, meeting new friends, fishing, just loving the atmosphere of this place.  I wasn’t sure I would ever leave! 

But I knew there was so much more of Vietnam to explore and it was time to head off.  After talking with Ben and Joel from Easy Tiger my plans changed again and I decided to head off down the Ho Chi Minh West Highway to Khe Sanh and explore this apparently amazingly beautiful part of Vietnam.

A mate I had made here heard my plans and quickly decided he was coming too, Pete is also from Western Australia and does seasonal farm work, allowing him to visit Vietnam for 3 months at a time, twice a year.  Most of that he spends at Phong Nha where he can live ridiculously cheap in between riding around the country.  So a plan was set and we were to head off in a couple of days.

Some funny pages from the 'Pub with cold beer' menu
Pics around Phong Nha
Entrance to Phong Nha Cave