Going underground… and loving it
Phong Nha – Ke Bank national park, one of the world largest karst regions is situated in the central part of Vietnam and it’s home to more than 300 caves and grottoes.
We arrived there after a 8h long sleeper bus trip from Hoi An. It was the first time we used the sleeper bus in Vietnam and it’s not that bad actually (especially if you are smaller than 1,70m you can sleep comfortably in the near flat beds).
Once in Phong Nha I’ve chose to rent a scooter and go explore the region on my own pace. It’s the best way to see the area with all the luxuriant green vegetation covering almost vertical mountains, with its inhabitants still working the rice fields or on different building sites, with all the mixed Buddhist/Christians cemeteries and all the contrasts that this country used us with.
Among the many caves available in the region we chose to visit only 2: Paradise Cave and Phang Nha.
The first one, Paradise Cave (Dông Thiên Du’o’ng) is the most beautiful in the world according to several classifications (We’re not sure about that, but it’s definitely the most beautiful we’ve ever seen). It has around 31 km with loads of chambers and halls full of amazing stalactites and stalagmite formations. Only a small portion equipped with lights and passage ways for the tourists, but even that left us in awe. The rest of the cave, the “natural” part is also available for exploration using a specialized equipment, but unfortunately we found out about that only once we were inside and it was too late to change our tour.
The second one, Phang Nha is 7,7km long and was created by a subterranean river. It can only be visited on a boat ride from the state company that manages the access to the cave. Our luck does not seems to run out as we were accompanied by a group of Buddhist monks that happily shared their food with us.