On your visit to Phong Nha National Park you’ll be surrounded by natural wonders and fun activities. However, the real activity that makes this area unique is hidden deeper in Phong Nha Cave and Dong Tien Son! Join us as we cruise through Phong Nha on a boat tour, explore 2 caves, and hike to one of the most beautiful views in Central Vietnam.
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Phong Nha Cave vs. Dong Tien Son
Once you’ve made it to Phong Nha you’ll have to decide whether you want to visit one or two the most famous caves in Vietnam. Phong Nha Cave is called a “wet cave” because it’s filled with water so you must enter it by boat.
If you also want to see Dong Tien Son cave it’s at the same location, but be ready to climb the grueling steps to the entrance. A visit to Phong Nha Cave will takes 2 to 2.5 hours, or you can add Dong Tien Son Cave on for a total time of 3 to 3.5 hours.
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Making Friends to See Phong Nha Cave
You can either book a private boat if you have enough people, or you’ll have to make some friends and form a group to save money. The boats can carry up to 12 people, and the more passengers you find the less you’ll pay. You may be asked to join a group when you walk up to the ticket counter, but if not just wait around for a little.
Naturally, others will come and small boat groups are formed. We’ve included the prices and times for you below so you can make the best decision for your visit to Phong Nha National Park!
- Phong Nha Boat Tour Cost: 550,000 VND – Total Split Between All Travelers
- Phong Nha Cave: 2.5 Hours – 150,000 VND Entrance Per Person
- Dong Tien Son and Phong Nha Cave: 3.5 Hours – 80,000 VND Entrance Per Person
About the Phong Nha Boat Tour
Honestly, the boat ride down the Song Son River through the mountain scenery is worth the trip alone. It’s about a 45 minute cruise where you’ll get some of the best views of the day. Our Phong Nha boat tour was a great opportunity to sit back, relax, and to see the natural beauty of the park from the water.
Phong Nha National Park Weather
Try to plan your visit on a clear and sunny day. While this won’t affect you once you’re in the cave, the views down the river are not to be missed! When we woke up the morning of our tour fog had overtaken Phong Nha and we couldn’t see anything.
Yet, just a few hours later the sky cleared and we couldn’t have asked for better visibility. That just goes to show how quickly the weather can change in this part of Vietnam!
Phong Nha Cave Tour
Once we arrived at Phong Nha Cave the driver cut the engine and paddled us slowly inside. Before we knew what was happening they untied small strings fastened tight against the steel roof, and slid back the large metal sheet.
The entire roof of the cave opened above us with the lights illuminating the walls so you can see the incredible rock formations. What a way to see one of the most famous caves in Vietnam!
We then traveled deeper into the cave for about 15 minutes before turning around and docking on a small sliver of shore. For the last part of the Phong Nha Cave tour we actually got out of the boat and were able to walk around.
Don’t be alarmed when your small vessel leaves you, but try to see what number boat you are on. All the drivers wait outside the caves so you can take your time exploring from here.
Hiking to Dong Tien Son Cave
Walking out of Phong Nha Cave there’s a small sign for Dong Tien Son. If you only booked the single cave tour just ignore it, yet if you’re doing both get ready for a climb! Follow the arrows up the stairs instead of heading back to the boat.
The hike up the hundreds of stairs is steep and long so luckily there’s plenty of shops to stop and grab a cold drink along the way. You might have to pay a slightly higher rate than in town, but remember that someone had to carry all the drinks and snacks up here!
Also, you should know some of the most beautiful views in Phong Nha National Park can be seen along the stairway. We stopped multiple times to take photos and catch our breaths. Don’t let the constant steps deter you, but prepare for about a 20 minute climb to get to the entrance of Dong Tien Son.
Exploring Dong Tien Son Cave
As you can imagine, Dong Tien Son is quite a different experience than Phong Nha Cave. It’s location at the top of a mountain makes it all the more alluring, and the walkways go deep into the mountainside.
Follow the tight winding passageways as you navigate your way through one of the most unique caves in Vietnam. In total, it shouldn’t take you more than 20 minutes to see Dong Tien Son before you head down the stairs and back to the boat.
5 Tips For Your Phong Nha Boat Tour
1. There’s a parking lot next to the ticket office, or you can pay 10,000 VND to have one of the cafe owners watch your bike. As always, it’s best to pay a little to insure your bike is looked after.
2. If you have time definitely see both of these famous caves in Vietnam! They’re right next to each other so you might as well visit the two of them. Just be aware of the 500+ steps it takes to get to the top of Dong Tien Son.
3. Unless you’re hiring a private boat for around $24 USD they won’t sell you a ticket until you have a full group ready to go. Be friendly and talk to people arriving to try to get a group of passengers together. Six to eight people is more than enough to get a decent price.
4. Wear good shoes and athletic clothing for the hike up to Dong Tien Son.
5. Try to get a seat towards the front of the boat for the best views and away from the noise of the engine. You’ll also have a great seat in case the driver doesn’t open the roof when you’re floating through Phong Nha Cave.
Where To Stay In Phong Nha National Park
Luxury – Victory Road Villas – Set right on the river, these beautiful villas are the most upscale place to stay in Phong Nha National Park. Each room is built with western design and a flair of local tradition.
Fun – Phong Nha Farmstay – This one of a kind accommodation is located just outside of town in a secluded part of Phong Nha. Here you can enjoy the beautiful scenery, on-site restaurant, and free bicycles.
Budget– Diep Le Homestay – This was where we stayed before our journey to Phong Nha Cave! Diep Le gives you a front row view at breakfast to the gorgeous river, and also has rooms facing the mountainside to the back. The staff is super friendly and is more than willing to set up any activities or tours for you.
Hostel – Central Backpackers Hostel – If hostels are your thing then you’ll love the atmosphere at Central Backpackers! The property features hammocks, a pool, full bar, and is the perfect jump off point to all the famous caves in Vietnam.
Have any questions about Phong Nha National Park or want to share more of your favorite caves in Vietnam? Comment below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
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How do we book this tour? It looks amazing!
Just go straight to the ticket booth where all the boats launch from. The boats will take you to both caves once you have your group set. We explained it all in the article. Enjoy!