Travel & Transportation to/go Phong Nha
It is relatively easy to reach Phong Nha from Hanoi and vice versa with a number of transport options including train, bus and of course by flight. Most bus companies will now stop directly in Phong Nha, and taking a bus is therefore becoming a popular choice amongst travellers as it saves on the additional transfer required from Dong Hoi (closest train station and airport to Phong Nha).
From Ha Noi, we recommend the Hung Long Bus Company and we’d suggest purchasing your ticket at Hanoi Backpackers, which is easy to find at 9 Ma May in the old quarter, where all the team speaks English.
You will need to be at Hanoi Backpackers at 6:00 PM where you will meet the bus and travel a short distance further to the office of the bus company to pick up other guests, before the 7:00 PM departure from Ha Noi to Phong Nha. You can also try and book at any travel agent in the old quarter and they will provide you with a map to the departure point which is located on the highway.
The sleeping bus is comfortable, air-conditioned and occasionally has wi-fi if you are lucky. There is a small toilet at the back of the bus and you’ll also make a stop along the way near Ninh Binh, where there are (basic) toilet facilities.
It costs VND 300,000 from Ha Noi to Phong Nha. The bus stops at the Easy Tiger Hostel between 5 – 6 AM in the morning in central Phong Nha, where you can rest and enjoy breakfast. Oxalis provides free pick up from the Easy Tiger Hostel for all tours.
It is important to select a train with an arrival time in Dong Hoi at least 2-3 hours before your tour departure, as you will need to still make the 45 mins journey by taxi/private transfer to Phong Nha (additional VND 660,000 for transfer from Dong Hoi). We recommend the following trains from Hanoi to Dong Hoi:
• SE1 – departs Ha Noi at 7:30 PM (19:30) and arrives the following morning in Dong Hoi at 5:35 AM
• SE19 – departs Ha Noi at 8:10 PM (20:10) and arrives the following morning in Dong Hoi at 6:24 AM
If you join in Tu Lan 1-Day Experience, you shouldn’t arrive at Phong Nha by train on the departure date because the train can be delayed. We suggest you reach here by a Hung Thanh bus to Phong Nha straightly on departure date or by flight/train 1 day before departure date.
If you plan on going to Hanoi the same evening you finish your tour with Oxalis then it is possible to take the overnight train from Dong Hoi (except on the Tu Lan 1-Day Experience, in which case we suggest the overnight bus). We recommend booking a private transfer back to Dong Hoi though ahead of time so you can depart immediately for the station upon returning from your jungle trek. We recommend taking the following train from Dong Hoi to Hanoi:
• SE4 – departs Dong Hoi at 7:52 PM (19:52) and arrives the following morning in Ha Noi at 5:30 AM
You can find the full list of available trains here: Hanoi to Dong Hoi Train Schedule, and here: Dong Hoi to Hanoi Train Schedule. Of course, please contact our team if you have any further questions about train travel.
Of course, the easiest mode of transport is to take a flight here from Hanoi, it being just a 1 hour and 25 mins flight. However, you have to factor in the time travelling to the airport (1 hour from old quarter). It is best to check the Vietnam Airlines website ahead of time to ensure you can catch a flight on your desired travel dates, otherwise we recommend the train or bus to save your travel days. If you take a flight you will have to book a transfer from Dong Hoi to Phong Nha.
Da Nang is the biggest city in central Vietnam with beautiful beaches, mountains and a 45 mins drive from the UNESCO world-heritage town of Hoi An. It is a 7 hour train/bus journey between Da Nang and Phong Nha.
Unfortunately at this time (fall 2015), there are no reliable bus companies running consistent buses between Phong Nha and Da Nang/Hoi An. It is possible that in the future, the Phong Phu bus company will restart their transits from Phong Nha to Da Nang/Hoi An, and we also hope that in the future, the Camel Travel bus company will have consistent buses running from Hoi An to Phong Nha.
To travel from Hoi An to Phong Nha by bus, the easiest way is to get to Da Nang first, either by local bus or taxi. From Da Nang, you can then take the local Phong Phu Bus departing for Phong Nha from the Da Nang Central Bus Station at 11:30 AM, and arriving in Phong Nha at 5:30 PM. It is a comfortable sleeper-style bus that usually has WiFi. Some local agents in Hoi An and Da Nang will be able to sell you tickets for this bus service, or you can go directly to the ticket booth in the Da Nang Central Bus Station. Ask for the Phong Phu Sleeper Bus ticket, which should cost around VND 220,000 – 300,000 per person. Please note that you will need to buy a ticket for Da Nang – Quy Dat, but be sure to let the agent and bus driver know you will actually be stopping in Phong Nha.
To travel from Phong Nha to Hoi An by bus, we also recommend the Phong Phu Bus, which departs at 9:00 PM from Easy Tiger and arrives into Da Nang between 5:00 – 6:00 AM (for 300,000 VND). Notify the bus company at the start of your trip that you would like to go to Hoi An and upon arrival at the Da Nang Bus Station, they will put you on a local bus to Hoi An free of charge.
We recommend arriving the day before your tour if you are taking the train from Da Nang to ensure you get a good nights sleep and not arriving too early in the morning. Do not forget if you are travelling on the train to Dong Hoi, you will need to book an additional transfer between Dong Hoi and Phong Nha (VND 660,000 each way).
• SE2 – departs Da Nang at 12:46 PM and arrives in Dong Hoi at 6:30 PM (18:30)
• SE4 – departs Da Nang at 2:13 PM (14:13) and arrives in Dong Hoi at 7:37 PM (19:37)
If you are travelling from Dong Hoi to Da Nang after your tour then we would advise against the evening train which arrives in Da Nang closer to 1:30 AM. We recommend spending an additional night in Phong Nha and taking the following morning train:
• SE3 – departs Dong Hoi at 7:40 AM and arrives in Da Nang at 1:00 PM (13:00)
You can see a full list of all train departure times on the Vietnam Railways website: Danang to Dong Hoi Train Schedule or Dong Hoi to Danang Train Schedule.
We are happy to offer you with a private transfer between Da Nang or Hoi An and Phong Nha. To and from Da Nang it costs VND 3,300,000 and to/from Hoi An VND 3,900,000 each way in a comfortable 4 – 7 seater car. Please indicate the number of passengers when booking a private transfer with us.
Ho Chi Minh City, also still known by its former name of Saigon, is the biggest city in Vietnam. It is a focal point for those looking to see highlights such as the Mekong Delta, and it’s also a hub for international travel.
The only practical way to journey between Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and Phong Nha is to take a flight with Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific or VietjetAir to Dong Hoi City (located 45 mins drive from Phong Nha). The tickets cost between 1,800,000 – 2,800,000 VND (80 – 120 USD) each way.
The bus and train journeys are both just too long to be viable options for those wanting to get quickly between the two cities. Alternatively, for those on a budget but who have a little bit more time, it’s common to find that the cheapest flights are often available between HCMC and Da Nang or Hue (versus direct to Dong Hoi). From Da Nang or Hue, one can find a train to get to Dong Hoi, or even a bus to Phong Nha directly.