THE PHONG NHA KE BANG NATIONAL PARK
Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park is an outstanding destination that showcases some of the most incredible landscape sites in Vietnam and even Southeast Asia as the park, listed by UNESCO, is the most exceptional limestone karst ecosystem in the world. A destination dedicated to nature yet perfectly combined with the discovery of the historical remains of the Vietnam War.
The most exceptional limestone karst ecosystem in the world
Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2003, has and protects more than 104 km of caves and underground rivers, making it one of the most exceptional limestone karst ecosystems in the world. Oldest large karst region in Asia, the area is home to a large number of species of fauna and flora and more than 800 species of vertebrates have been recorded, including 154 mammals, 117 reptiles, 58 amphibians, 314 birds and 170 fish. Several globally threatened species are also present: 133 species of plants and 104 species of vertebrates have been recorded, including several large mammals such as the endangered giant muntjac, the clouded leopard, and the critically endangered saola. As you can see, when you go to Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park you enter a unique place, a natural sanctuary of great value.
The spectacular underground cavities
This exceptional karst landscape site is home to a considerable number of rock cavities and caves which contribute to the fame of this geological park. By boat and on foot, you can visit some of these beautiful caves such as :
- Phong Nha Cave, over 7 kilometers long and containing 14 rock cavities and a 13-kilometer underground river, dazzles visitors with its beautiful rock formations with intriguing shapes and names, beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, and beautiful sandbanks and reefs.
- The Paradise Cave, nestled in the limestone depths of the National Park, is as heavenly as its name suggests. Twice the size of its neighbour Phong Nha, the Paradise Cave contains incredible scenery of geological formations, stalagmites and stalactites skillfully enhanced by the play of light.
- The cave Én or Swallow Cave, considered the third largest cave in the world, extends over more than 2 kilometers. The largest and best known of the three entrances is more than 120 meters high and 140 meters wide. A masterpiece!
- The Tien Son cave is less impressive than the others, but it is still interesting and offers a beautiful view of the countryside and rice fields.
- The phenomenal cave of Sơn Đoòng which with its 9 kilometers long and its continuous gallery of 200 meters high by 100 meters wide has been consecrated the largest cave in the world. An exceptional place that served as the setting for the latest King Kong film.
A first-class eco tourism destination
The Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park is a must-see destination for all nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts in Vietnam. The park offers a wide range of ecotourism activities:
- Hiking in the tropical forest rich in biodiversity. Possibility of trekking for one or several days with nights in bivouac to discover more remote caves.
- Bike rides in the superb countryside at the foot of impressive limestone formations where vast rice fields are spread out.
- Kayaking on the rivers and streams that criss-cross the park with the possibility of taking some underground rivers to admire the fantastic geological formations of some caves only accessible by kayak.
- Tyrolean traverse of the Chay River and the cave Tối (Black) for thrill-seekers.
- Discovery of the botanical garden which shelters 500 plant species including 133 amongst the rarest and most precious, and many animal species including many birds, mammals and reptiles.
Discovery of the 17th parallel and the remnants of the Vietnam war.
The visit of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park and all these natural wonders combine perfectly with the discovery of the 17th parallel and the remains of the Vietnam War. The 17th parallel was a virtual line that served to define two areas after the French defeat: communist North Vietnam and nationalist South Vietnam. During the Vietnam War, the region of the 17th parallel and the DMZ (demilitarized zone) was the scene of fierce and bloody battles as each side wanted to claim this symbol of the division of the country. Remains to be seen in the DMZ :
- The Ben Hai River and the Hien Luong Bridge used to symbolise the dividing line between North and South Vietnam. After the victory of the North in 1975, Hien Luong Bridge became the bridge of reunification and was later classified as a special national vestige.
- The Vinh Moc tunnels, a veritable "underground fortress" on 3 levels and stretching for several kilometers, served as a refuge for civilians but also for the military during the American bombings.
- The Truong Son military cemetery, where on 4 hectares are gathered 10,327 graves of North Vietnamese soldiers.
- The military base of Khe Sanh which was the scene of the most famous siege of the Vietnam War where nearly 10,000 North Vietnamese soldiers, some 500 American soldiers and an unknown number of civilians lost their lives.
Best season to go: It is best to visit Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park during the dry season from April to September.