Phong Nha and Tien Son caves - review by Rusty Compass
Phong Nha | see and do guide

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Phong Nha and Tien Son caves

| 29 Aug 2012


Phong Nha and Tien Son caves
Son Trach, Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park
7.30 - 17.00 water level permitting. Leave plenty of time.
Boat 250,000VND Enrance fee 40,000VND per cave

Our rating
29 Aug 2012

Phong Nha and Tien Son caves are the two original magnets for travellers to the World Heritage listed Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park.

Note: The information provided in this review was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service

Phong Nha Cave

Phong Nha cave with its riverine access, is the best known of the more than 300 caves in the Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park.

Phong Nha cave has been entrancing locals for many hundreds of years. Remains of a Cham presence in the caves have been identified dating back to the 9th century.

Nguyen Dynasty kings in the 19th century also expressed their admiration before the French gave the cave its first tourism listing between the world wars.

For travellers, a visit to Phong Nha consists of a pleasant row boat ride along the Son River from Son Trach town. Boats are rowed by local women (the odd man sometimes appears). The boat travels 1.5 kilometres into the cave showcasing its vastness as well as its collection of stalagmites and stalactites.

The caves stretch out for more than 7kms with only the first stage open to travellers. The coloured light show does not necessarily enhance the travel experience.

Tien Son Cave

After you've visited Phong Nha, hit the stairs for the 200 metre climb to Tien Son cave. Your boat will wait at the bottom.

It may be slightly less impressive than Phong Nha's riverine setting - but you may be more impressed by the smaller numbers that make the climb and the more gentle light show.

Travel tips

Boat hire is arranged at Son Trach town. You can charter one for yourself or your group or wait and share the 250,000VND fee. You may prefer the flexibility of your own boat.

Staying away from the crowds will be essential to your enjoyment of the caves. The caves may be large but they're not large enough for the noisy masses that descend on them in busy summer months and on weekends. Arrive very early or very late for the most intimate experience. 3 hours will be plenty of time. The caves close when high water levels prevent safe access. Water levels do not effect access to Tien Son or Paradise Cave.

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