If Saigon doesn't grab you and you'd like to get a little off the beaten track then 3 nights exploring the countryside of central Vietnam would a great addition. The focus is on the newly opened cave system in beautiful Phong Nha- Ke Bang National Park, but other experiences include the chance to hike through the hills or perhaps take out a mountain bike. On the way back to Hue stop off at the DMZ tunnels from the Vietnam War and then either fly home or perhaps enjoy a few nights on the beach.
Day 1: Rather than fly to Saigon drive to Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park for 3 nts. Afternoon caves tour
Day 2: Day trip exploring the Abandoned Valley and caves
Day 3: Day free to enjoy the beautiful location, explore the countryside or add extra tours
Day 4: Visit DMZ tunnels (Vietnam War) en route to Hue to fly home or extend on beach or Saigon
Day 5: Arrive home
Day 1: Leave Small Group Tour - Transfer to Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park - Cave Tour (B / L / D)
This morning you split away from the group and transfer north-west to Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park, a land of stunning 400-million-year-old limestone karst hills littered with caves and underground rivers. Here you will stay in a simple homestay lodge for 3 nights.
Leave your bags at the homestay and then spend the bulk of the afternoon exploring some of the caves hidden within its hills. Your first stop is Phong Nha Cave that's reached by boat from the town passing through beautiful rural scenery right into the cave itself. Engines are cut and the boat is propelled by oar as you gaze at hundreds of spot-lit stalactites and stalagmites. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant then move onto Paradise Cave, the longest dry cave in Asia and one of the most beautiful that was only discovered a few years ago. Once you get past the unassuming small entrance you enter a land of caverns 100 metres high with mind-blowing stalactite and stalagmite formations that can be viewed from the walkway that leads you through. To reach Paradise Cave involves a large number of steps and so you will need a reasonable level of fitness. Back at the lodge late afternoon and time permitting you'll have time to take a mountain bike out for a quick ride around the beautiful countryside and farming villages that dot the region. Return in time for dinner.
Day 2: Phong Nha - Day Trip Exploring the Abandoned Valley (B / L / D)
Today delve deeper into the park's caves and valleys on a full day excursion. The Abandoned Valley is a remote area of the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, and some of the tracks originated as part of the Ho Chi Minh trail, the supply route through Laos to south Vietnam during the “American war”. This morning's walk is through the countryside across several streams to the Dark Cave's least visited entrance. Helmets, headtorches and gloves are provided and then slowly walk (uneven surface) into the cave for about half a mile (1 hour). Once at the end you're encouraged (optional) to briefly turn out your light and discover how the cave got its name. An easier route can be arranged through the main entrance but this is now a backpacker haven with zipline and kayaking.
From here walk on another hour to Hang En Cave, a river cave who's cool water can be enjoyed whilst waiting for the BBQ lunch. This afternoon return to the main road via a different trail and enjoy a cold drink before being taken back to the homestay lodge early evening. Today involves a 12km walk across hilly terrain with some steep slopes and so you will need a reasonable level of fitness.
Day 3: Phong Nha - Free Day (B / L / D)
The previous 2 days are jam packed and as it's doiubtful you'll return it seems a shame to not have a day to yourselves to enjoy the beautiful location and explore a little on foot or by complimentary bike. The homestay offers other escorted walks and there are plenty of other caves to visit. If this all seems like too much effort , why not relax by the pool and let the surrounding beauty come to you!
Day 4: Phong Nha - DMZ Tunnels - Fly home from Hue (B / L)
This morning your guide will collect and transfer you back to Hue for the evening flight home. On the way you'll pass through the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that became important during the Vietnam War as the battleground demarcation separating the North and South Vietnamese territories. You'll stop at the Vinh Moc Tunnels that were built to shelter people from the intense bombing. The American forces believed the villagers were supplying food and armaments to the North Vietnamese garrison. The villagers initially dug the tunnels to move their village 10 metres underground, but the Americans designed bombs that could burrow to this depth. Amazingly the villagers moved to a depth of 30 metres and it grew to include wells, kitchens and spaces for healthcare. As home to 60 families apparently no villagers lost their lives.Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant then continue on another 2 hours to Hue airport where you check-in for the flight home overnight.
Day 5: Arrive home
Arrive home this morning. Alternatively it's easy to perhaps add a stay in Saigon or on the beach at the end.
This is designed to be an add on for one of our Small Group Tours.
- English speaking, local guide & driver
- Transport in private air-conditioned vehicles
- 3 nights in Homestay
- Tours as detailed in the itinerary
- All meals as detailed (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
- Flight home
- Optional Tours / Excursions
- Personal expenses
- Tips for Guides / Drivers (discretionary)
- Travel insurance
The hotels below are there as examples, designed to act as a starting point from which to create your holiday. There are plenty of alternatives to choose from and when we quote we will include other suggestions so we get to understand your likes and dislikes. Quite often clients mix and match hotel categories throughout their holiday.
Hotels in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
Discover the largest cave system in the world set amongst dramatic limestone scenery and beautiful countryside