Cycling Phong Nha - Ke Bang - review by Rusty Compass
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Cycling Phong Nha - Ke Bang

| 16 Jul 2018


Cycling Phong Nha - Ke Bang
Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, Quang Binh Province

Our rating
16 Jul 2018

Phong Nha may offer the best cycling of anywhere we know in Vietnam. The views are beautiful, there are loads of cool things to see and the roads are mostly in good shape and free of heavy traffic. The only downside we noted was a shortage of good bicycles - they tend to be the cheapest of the cheap. You can make the cycling as challenging as you like. If you’re cycling in summer, do it early or late and stay hydrated. It gets very hot.

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Phong Nha may be the best place for cycling in Vietnam - for both casual and more serious cyclists.

I spent a couple of days riding in rural countryside and through villages, and then another couple of days cycling in the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park. It was a delight.

Here are some brief itinerary ideas for cyclists. You can also do these on a motorbike - but we don’t recommend that unless you’re licensed and experienced. Another option is to jump on the back of a local xe om (motorcycle taxi), also often known as Easy Riders. Select your rider with care.

Cycling Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park - Ride 1 - Botanical Gardens 20kms return

Grade - Easy

The Phong Nha Botanical Gardens are around 9kms from town and the ride is gorgeous and not too hilly. When you get to the gardens, you can take a short hike to the waterfall and in the warmer weather, reward yourself with a little dip before heading back.

Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park
Photo: Mark Bowyer Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park


Cycling Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park loop - Ride 2 - Botanical Gardens, Hang Tam Co (8 Lady Cave), Ho Chi Minh Highway, Paradise Cave 60km loop.

Grade - Moderate to Hard (some nasty hills).

This ride travels deeper into the National Park. It’s glorious country - but there are some nasty climbs. I’m definitely not super fit and I confess to jumping off the bike and walking a couple of times. Still, it was worth it. Wonderful cycling through magnificent terrain. And it includes a visit to Paradise Cave - one of the most beautiful in the park.


Cycling Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park - Ride 3 - Open cycling

Grade - Difficult

If you’re fit enough and have a good bike, you may prefer to make your own itinerary and venture into the National Park. The roads are good and it would be hard to get lost. It’s worth noting that mobile phone coverage does not extend into the park so have your maps downloaded in advance. Take plenty of water too - especially in summer. There are few places to buy water.

The 50km (100kms return) ride to the Arem Village is a good one - but you’ll need to be fit and you’ll probably need to bring your own bike. I cheated and did this one on the back of an Easy Rider motorbike.

Cycling Phong Nha
Photo: Mark Bowyer Cycling Phong Nha


Cycling The Bong Lai Valley to Son Trach Town
Grade: Easy

The guys from Phong Nha Farmstay have put the rural life of the Bong Lai Valley on the travel map. It’s a cool area to explore for at least half a day.

There are a handful of tourist activities that you can give or take, but the area is perfect for a cycle through rural life. There are some good local eateries dotted around the place for lunch. And a sunset drink at Phong Nha Farmstay’s a good way to end the day.

Bong Lai Valley scenes - Phong Nha
Photo: Mark Bowyer Bong Lai Valley scenes - Phong Nha


Cycling north of Son Trach and the Son River
Grade: Easy

There are endless options for scenic rural cycling around Phong Nha. I headed across to the northern side of the Son River and the scenes were beautiful. A ride along the northern bank of the river provides some nice views of the town. If you’re feeling energetic, you could ride all the way to Paradise Cave (around 25kms each way).

Cycling tips
We struggled to find quality bikes. We hope that improves. Remember the weather. It can get very hot. Carry plenty of water and try and ride early and late.

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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