Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is located in the ecological site of North Truong Son, covers administrative borderlines of Bo Trach, Quang Ninh, Minh Hoa districts (mainly Bo Trach); about 50 km northwest of Dong Hoi city, about 500 km south of Ha Noi capital, is evaluated as one of the 238 globally important ecological regions, with ranges of calcareous mountains which have almost been developing continuously with relatively unified components, is the largest Karst region with an area of over 200,000 ha. It is a typical sample of geological process of Karst category and formation of caves which have been taking place globally, not only in the field of biological diversity but also the best scenery in caves of the world .

Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park has a total area of 343,638.04 ha. Of which, the core zone is 125.729,6 ha, including: strictly protected sub-zones 64,894 ha, ecological restoration sub-zone 17,449 ha,  service-administration sub-zone 3,411 ha, extended area 31,070 ha (belongs to communes of Thuong Hoa, Hoa Son of Minh Hoa district), special forest 8,364.5 ha, the land without forests 173.6 ha, other land 367.5 ha. The buffer zone is 217,908.44 ha (belongs to 13 communes of districts of Bo Trach, Quang Ninh, Minh Hoa).

Phong Nha – Ke Bang area has a group of over 300 caves multi – shaped known as the “Kingdom of the cave”, where there is a mystery of wonders and attraction, a paradise for scientists in caves, explorers and tourists. Up to now, the British cave research association in collaboration with the Geography Department of Hanoi National University has surveyed more than 170 caves with a total length of hundreds of kilometers, which have been published on the journal of International Caves  – No. 48, July 1994 and valuated as one of the most beautiful sights with characteristics as follows: the cave with the longest underground river, the highest and widest entrance, the most beautiful sandbank and reef,the most beautiful undergroud lake, the most beautiful and widest dry cave, the most spectacular stalactites, stalagmites and longest water grottos. Among the caves, Phong Nha is really prominent with surveyed length of nearly 8 km, mainly with underground rivers, Vom cave (Arch cave)  is more than 15 km long, Paradise cave is 31.4 km which are included in the list of the caves with the longest underground rivers in the world.

Along with the miraculous cave system, the Trooc river, Chay river and Son river in  Phong Nha Cave – Ke Bang region with the fresh blue streams winding among the rock mountains with forests, have created a poetic beauty as a magnificent water – color  painting.

phong nha ke bang
phong nha ke bang

The primeval forest Phong Nha – Ke Bang with tens of top of mountains of more than 1,000m high, full of obstacles and no human footprints, is an attractive place for climbing and exploration. For instance, Co Rilata peaks of 1,128 m high, Co Preu of 1,213m high. Lying among the peaks over 1,000 m, suitable for ecological tourism and climbing such as mount Phu Sinh of 965 m high, Ma Ma of 835 m high. Especially, mount Ma Tac of 721 m high.

In  Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, there is still existing a primitive tropical forest, little affected, with the covering of  more than 96.2% and features a great biodiversity. In this region, there is according to the survey data, many endemic plant species of the limestone forest such as Chò nước (platanus kerrii), Cho Dai Nghiến (Burretiodendronhsienmu), Trầm Hương (Agarwood), Ba Kích, Sao ….vessel plants include  1,762 families, 511 stains, 876 species, of which 38 species are listed in the Viet Nam Red Book, 25 species listed in the IUCN Red Book (World Union for Conservation of Nature) and 13 endemic species in Viet Nam. Scientists also discovered many rare plant species in danger of extinction such as the Calocedrus rupestris, paphiopedilum spp and many other rare plant species. Regarding fauna, 140 mammal species have been identified, 35 species are listed in the Vietnam Red Book and 19 species are listed in the IUCN Red Book, 356 species of birds, 15 species are listed in the Vietnam Red Book, 19 species are listed in the IUCN Red Book, 99 species of reptiles and amphibians, of which 4 new reptile species were discovered such as ear lizards, Phong Nha Geckos, Truong Son Vipers, crotaluses, with 18 species are listed in the Vietnam Red Book and 6 species in the IUCN Red Book, 259 species of butterflies, 162 species of fish, of which there are 4 endemic species to Quang Binh, 47 species of frogs. Especially, the forest on limestone forest is home to a significant population of primates in Vietnam, with 10 species are recorded, occupying  about 50% of total species of primate species in Vietnam, 7 species of primates are listed in the Vietnam Red Book. In comparison with other conservation areas and national parks in Vietnam, the abundance of the animal species in Phong Nha-Ke Bang is rather high. The rare species, especially primates have been found with the highest number of the country.

Besides the vegetation and wild animals, Phong Nha – Ke Bang region is also the place where the highly valuable historical and cultural heritage of many ages have ever been and is currently existing such as archaeological heritages of prehistory, Cham culture, and ancient Viet, vestiges of the base of resistance war against the French of Ham Nghi king in late 19th century at Mai Rai mountain and well-known places such as Xuan Son ferry, Ho Chi Minh trail, the Quyet Thang road No.20 which have entered into the legend associated with brilliant feats and lofty sacrifice of Vietnam people in the war for independence and unification of the fatherland.

In addition, in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang region live mostly  Chut – minority ethnic group, a few Viet and Bru-Van Kieu ethnic. In Quang Binh, there are about 3,500 heads  Chut-Sach, Chut-May, Chut-Ruc, Chut-Arem, Chut-Ma Lieng people who mostly scatter in Tuyen Hoa, Minh Hoa and a few in Bo Trach district. In Phong Nha – Ke Bang area, about 2,450 people of Chut minority ethnic present in Minh Hoa and Bo Trach districts, mostly of them are above mentioned clans, except Chut-Ma Lieng

The ethnic people of the Chut ethnic group (named as Chut Poong) and their languages that is guessed to be divided from first Viet-Muong language in about century V-VI. Name “Chut” means ‘Rem Da in Vietnamese”, means “Limestone curtain in English”.

The Chut’s people is now agriculturalists, but they used to earn a living by hunting, picking and live in extremely backward and wild conditions. Most of all Chut minority ethnic lived on shifting cultivation and wandering hill tribes in forests and caves … Today, spiritual and material life of the Chut ethnic group has been improving step by step. The Chut’s people culture that is the object of study of many scientists and it is also the attractive places for minority ethnic people cultural tourism in Phong Nha-Ke Bang Area.
During the past years, Phong Nha – Ke Bang as become a favorite tourism place of  the tourists. The number of tourists has increased more and more, especially from the time when Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park was recognized as a World Natural Heritage. Together with My Son holy land, Hoi An ancient town, Hue ancient capital, Phong Nha – Ke Bang World Natural Heritage formed and opened an original tourist route “the Central Heritage Road”, which will create the atraction to tourists.

Viet Nam’ Government is compiling scientific documentation to submit to UNESCO to consider recognition Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park as a world natural heritage for biodiversity a second time.

On December 09, The provincial People’s Committee of Quang Binh has announced that it is co-ordinating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Vietnam National Commission for UNESCO to organise tour to Son Doong cave for foreign ambassadors in Vietnam such as the US, Canada, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Argentina.

son doong
son doong

The event aims to introduce and promote the uniqueness of the World Natural Heritage List’s Phong Nha cavee – Ke Bang National Park, as well as promoting Vietnam’s tourism to the globe.
As an adventurous discovery, the organisers have asked authorities to advise the ambassadors on undergoing training to improve their physical fitness and caving skills.
The event is scheduled for May 2016 with approximately 28 ambassadors participating.

   www.quangbinhtravel.vn

As for the geographical and climatic features, along with the formation of resident community in the process of social development over the time, Quang Binh has possessed a system of attractive and diverse natural tourist values. The province is captivating a large number of tourists in Vietnam travel, especially who adore adventuring caves in Quang Binh. At present, the most famous cave in the province is Son Doong Cave which is praised widely around the world for its outstanding beauty and values. Yet, the expenses to explore the cave is not suitable to ordinary travelers. Therefore, there are some alternative caves inPhong Nha Ke Bang tours to satisfy the adventuring desire of these travelers that suggested by NETIN TRAVEL  as follows.
Phong Nha Cave
phongnhacave1
Phong Nha Cave is located in the limestone area of Ke Bang in Son Trach Commune, Bo Trach District of Quang Binh Province. It is about 50km to the Northwest of Dong Hoi City. Phong Nha Cave is dubbed as the second best cave in Vietnam. It is protected by tropical jungles. From Son River, it takes about 30 minutes to approach Phong Nha Cave. With the length of 7,729 meters, the depth of 83 meters, and the height of 50 meters, along with many smaller caves such as Bi Ki Cave, Tien Cave, and Cung Dinh Cave. This is the wet cave with waters running underground and featured stalactites. It is said that these stalactites make the featured characteristics of Phong Nha Cave.

phongnha-netintravel

Tien Son Cave (also known as Dry Cave) is one of the most magnificent caves in Phong Nha – Ke Bang tourist complex. Road to Tien Son winds over halfway up the mountain. Tien Son Cave entrance is about 1,000m from Phong Nha Cave on the height of 200m. The entrance of Tien Son Cave is about 1,000 meters from Phong Nha Cave’s entrance. Tien Son Cave was discovered in 1935. Initially, the cave was called Tien Cave (Fairy Cave) as its mysterious and fairy beauty. And, Phong Nha is the wet cave, while Tien Son is dry cave. The length ofTien Son Cave is 980 meters. Despite of not connecting each other, Tien Son Cave and Phong Nha Cave are parts of the entire cave system. Tien Son Cave is regarded as the castle of stalactites with thousands of colorful stalactites.

Paradise Cave

paradise-cave Wooden staircases in Paradise Cave
paradise-cave Wooden staircases in Paradise Cave

Dubbed the “underground palace”, Paradise Cave is one of the most magnificent and fanciful wonders over the world. Thien Duong Cave lies in the heart of the World Natural Wonder –Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park. The cave belongs to ancient karst terrain dated back 350 – 400 million years ago. Paradise Cave is situated in Km 16, far about 4km from the edge of the west branch of Ho Chi Minh trail in Son Trach commune, Bo Trach district, Quang Binh province. It is far about 70 km from tyhe Dong Hoi city center to the northwest.Thien Duong Cave is about 25km from Phong Nha Cave. It is convenient to travel between two caves.

Dark Cave

darkcave

Dark Cave was discovered for a long time ago. During American resistance war, the cave used to be the shelter of soldiers and locals. In 1992, the British Caving Association surveyed, mapped, and measured Dark Cave with the length of 5,558m, the depth of 80m, and the height of 50m. The Dark Cave has an outstanding beauty. The appearance of Dark Cave does not match its name. The light from outside enters the cave through stone cliffs, reflects on water surface. All creates a wonderful picture of this cave. Travlers in Vietnam tours to Quang Binh will have

Thuy Cung Cave

thuycung-cave

Thuy Cung Cave is one of most visited attractions in Phong Nha Ke Bang. To reach Thuy Cung Cave, travelers have to pass immense grass field to approach Dau Rai primitive jungle with hundreds of big old trees. Then, walking to Tien Stream on backwards to Nuoc Lan Cave, travelers reach the back entrance of Dark Cave. With specialized devices provided by Phong Nha Ke Bang tourist center, travelers can easy to explore over 500m of unspoiled Nuoc Lan Cave. After coming back the entrance, travelers have a chance to enjoy the lunch with local dishes of wild vegetables, grilled fish and meat… From Nuoc Lan Cave, travel walk to Thuy Cung Cave where there is a stunning color of water. After one night camping at Thuy Cung Cave, in the early morning, travelers have an opportunity to admire the dawn in Sinh Ton Valley (Survival Valley) of more than 2000ha, surrounded by majestic limestones, and vast primitive forest.

Tam Co Cave

eightladiescave

Tam Co Cave is situated in Tan Trach Commune of Bo Trach District in Quang Binh. It is about 55km from Dong Hoi City to the northwest. The cave is the evidence of great contribution of youth volunteers in American resistance war. The story of Tam Co Cave (Eight Ladies Cave) is dolorous. Many tourists coming here and hearing about the story of eight young female volunteers burst into tear when listening from the tour guide.

Tu Lan Cave

Tu Lan Cave
Tu Lan Cave

Tu Lan Cave is located in Tan Hoa village, Minh Hoa district, Quang Binh. Tu Lan Cave is about 70km from Phong Nha Cave to the northwest. Tu Lan has 08 smaller caves. It was found in 2009. In 2012, more four vallyes were discovered. The system of Tu Lan Caveincludes the main cave – Tu Lan Cave and auxiliary caves, namely Song Cave, Uoi Cave, Chuot (Mouse) Cave, Hung Ton Cave, Kim Cave, Tu Lan Cave, Ken cave and To Mo Cave. The cave system of Tu Lan is still untouched and hides in itself many secretes of the nature in the heart of limestones, underground river, and endless waterfalls. To contemplate what the Mother of Nature created, tourists have to pass rough routes and catch many difficulties. With the magical beauty of stalactites and mysterious underground river, along with the pristine beauty of forest, the scenery will be saved in mind once coming here.

Hang En Cave

En cave
En cave

Coming to Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, tourists will have a chance to admire the majesty of the third biggest cave in the world. More interestingly, the time to explore Hang En Cave is 2 days 1 night. Here is an ideal stopover for those who love adventures but do not have much time. En Cave has a total length of 1,645m with three entrances. Hang En Cave was voted as one of the most spectacular caves in the world by National Geographic. The most special feature of Hang En Cave is the separate ecosystem and climate, along with a beautiful river, which will bring a unique experience to tourists.

Son Doong Cave

SonDoong - photo: Ryan Deboodt
SonDoong – photo: Ryan Deboodt

Son Doong Cave, located deeply in Phong Nha Ka Bang National Park for millions of years, is the biggest cave in the world. After being discovered in 2009, Son Doong Cave triggered the curiosity of global tourists coming here to explore and admire. Son Doong Cave has the length of about 5km, the height of 200m, and the wide of 150m. According to Conde Nast Traveler, the cave can occupy a big house in Manhattan, US equivalent to a 40-floor building. Inside the cave, there is a separate ecosystem formed by the sunlight from ceiling holes and clouds. The stalagmites in Son Doong Cave reach the height of nearly 80m. The lime stones sized baseballs scatter throughout the cave floor. The spectacular underground scenery shows that there are many beautiful landscapes in the world to discovery.

There are several ways to travel to Quang Binh: by road, train, and plane. At present, tourists can easily to take direct flights to Quang Binh from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, and then travel by road to Phong Nha Ke Bang. To seek flights to Quang Binh, it is recommended to visit phong nha cave official site (phongnhacave.org) for further information, not just about flights to Quang Binh, but also other useful and up-to-date information about Vietnam tourism such as visa and tours…

 

When travelling to Rao Thuong Spring – En Cave tourists will enjoy a romantic combination of rivers – springs – mountains of Phong Nha – Ke Bang with wonderful places in heaven. In a journey to Hang En, one of magnificent cave in a system of 300 large and small caves in limestone area of Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, Quang Binh, visitors will have opportunity to enjoy the untouched beauty, the grandeur of the vast primeval forests, the charming green of Rao Thuong spring, the landscapes with endless beauty that nature has bestowed. Also, they have a chance to experience the lifestyle and customs of Bru-Van Kieu ethnic minority people living between the majestic Truong Son range.

From the center of culture and ecological tourism of Phong Nha, Ho Chi Minh Trail West tourists begin journey exploring En Cave. The path to the En Cave, you have to pass magnificent primeval forests with tingled sounds of birds and gibbons and swarms of butterflies. Climbing on the mountain, tourists will pass wading streams, along zigzag trails in dense forests with carpet of sweet dense decaying leaves.

Strange creatures, towering trees reaching up to the sky to welcome the sun, the quietness of the mountainous area… pure and clear atmosphere, the sun cannot shine. After nearly three hours through the jungle, crossing the long distance about 4km, you would stop in Ban Doong…

SWC
Swallow Cave – Hang En

Ban Doong is a small village of Bru-Van Kieu ethnic minority people living almost isolated in the core area of the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park with 6 households and 21 people, local community in Ban Doong live leisurely and peacefully like their compatriots of hundred years ago. Mr. Nguyen Sy Toa, 64 years old, being an innocent and pure-minded person, was elected to be the village chief, community of Van Kieu ethnic people in Ban Doong like a strange musical notes in the journey to discover wonderful nature.

Leaving Ban Doong, tourists continue to conquer the second journey approximately 5km to En Cave. Instead of dangerous steep passes, this way has thinned forests, wild grass, vegetables, wild banana, and Rao Thuong winding and crooked blue stream.

Rao Thuong is also called Doong spring derived from the top of U Bo Mountain and some small streams on the Truong Son range. This stream is not deep and there are many mudflats. Cool and fresh spring water helps visitors observe the fish swimming around. Both banks are limestone successive mountains, which are interwoven with thinned forests stretching as far as of sight making more excitement for tourists coming to En cave.

Rao-Thuong-Spring-En-Cave
Rao Thuong stream is smoothly winding under massif of limestone between the two ancient forest canopies. Far a distance, Rao Thuong looks like undergrounding deep into the mountains. Rao Thuong is as mischievous maiden engrossed with playing hide and seeks. When winding, when disappearing between two cliffs, sometimes unexpectedly spreads immensely to a few hundred yards and then quickly vanishes among the dense forest canopies.
Going along the steep cliffs, thinned forests still remain footprints of wild animals and then En Cave suddenly appear after a corner … the door of En cave is in front, at a distance, among immense mountains, En cave mouth open like a giant creature that you are just the man are humbled by the greatness and superficial world of it.

Southeast entrance of the cave is wide near 100m, divided in half by a giant stone pillar. At the entrance, there are many sedimentary pebbles, gorgeous and vast gravels. Stones like having deep sleeping for a long time; they are just scrambled under feet of people standing in the cave. Around the cave are cool green forests, very suitable for camping. En cave was first described in 1994 by group of British Royal caving with 1.645m length, more than 170m width, and as high as 120m. Nevertheless, just by the numbers, you would be hard to imagine stunning beauty of the place.

En Cave has three doors, one dooris located halfway up the mountain, and the 2 left gates are located at the foot of the mountain, which has a door to the southeast and the northwest entrance. Two entrances at the foot of mountain follow direction of Rao Thuong spring. This is a rare feature compared with many other caves in Vietnam. The reason the cave named En Cave because it has many Swallow living. Hang En became popular with the native people a long time because it used to be a residence of Arem ethnic people from thousands of years ago. Previously, when Arem people still lived in En Cave, swallows annual built nests every season, they often climbed cliffs and bare caves to catch child swallows for foods. Nowadays, though Arem people moved to settle near the 20 Quyet Thang , they have returned to En cave to organize eating swallow festival to give thanks to gods of the forest, the mountain on the fifteenth day of the lunar calendar in May.

In the cave, you will see three lakes separated by the small mudflat and bedrock ranges piled up together. On the ceiling cave, cliffs have many stalactites with diversified shapes and particularly swallow’s nests. Sunset and thousands of swallow wings at entrance. Their chirrup likes the remixes among beautiful green forests, causing massive cave never lonely.

Stalactites in a cave are not enormous by the flow of the flood of erosion from millions of years. However, the stream in the cave is very miraculous, Rao Thuong stream continue winding, curving as S-shaped, overcoming the low mudflats, rocky clefts, being dimly visible in En Cave. Stalactite dunes are in various shapes and colors are scattered everywhere. Its flow is as reluctant to leave this magnificent cave.

From the entrance to the depth of about 1km, a sedimentary sinkhole created a skylight, bringing sunshines down sapphire stream, painting a magnificent picture. Scenery is like in Heaven. Feeling human beings are so small in front of a spectacular cave. Cold air of stalactites, sapphire of fresh stream that you have to immerse myself down to get to the other side that people are still lightheaded, as in fairy stories.

Entrances of En Cave are a round arch with enchanting beauty. One is a strange mighty door; another one is 83m in high, 35m in width, making groups of caving surprised: “It’s really majestic. We have never seen such an entrance. Humans too humbled by this entrance. “This is also a place where photographer, Carsten Peter selected as the theme for the shooting to give birth to works “En Cave” has been voted by National Geographic magazine is as one of the most beautiful natural images on March, 2011.

The unique features, which Phong Nha and Heaven caves don’t have of En Cave is in the blue colors of the river and light shining from skylights make the scene be more sparkling and fanciful. En Cave is like a fairy world with diversified flowers and grasses. From the cave overlooking the entrance tourists may see lively landscapes, spacious sandy beaches and lush green pristine rainforests ….

According to geomorphological experts, besides stunning beauty of En Cave, it also carries the burden of flood drainage valley for Ban Doong. Without Hang En is as an enormous button, in flood seasons, floodwaters from upstream will turn into Ban Doong a submerged swamp… Geomorphological experts say that without En cave, the flood drainage in the valley of Ban Doong become unsolvable and likely become dangerous swamp.

Nevertheless, the appearance of En Cave brought a life to a vast valley with a hundred hectares. In En cave, scientists also saw other migratory of vegetation into the grotto. The seeds of the ferns, other trees follow annually flood flows into the cave, they float downstream and cling to the rock cleft and then, when the sprint, we start a new proliferation in a cave spectacularly. With En cave, British Caving Association said it was spectacular cave, a standard form of movement of crust remaining hundreds of millions of years.

Let come to Rao Thuong – Hang En to explore this spectacular caves to be immersed in the mountain and primordial forests of Phong Nha – Ke Bang national park with sound of chirping birds and murmuring streams, rustling of trees, which dispel all anxiety your daily life. Combined with activities such as camping, fishing, bathing spring, observing Leaf Monkey, tourist can visit a highland village – Ban Doong to perceive traits of primitive living of ethnic people in the heart of heritage. Enjoying the rustic dishes of local people such as sticky rice and boiled chicken, vegetables are picked in forest to have delicious soup, fish in the stream of Rao Thuong grilled fragrantly over an open fire. Surely, whenever you go, you will remember a journey to Rao Thuong- En Cave and memorize all the usual dishes, but with a very distinctive aftertaste of Phong Nha – Ke Bang…