Day 1: Dong Hoi – Thien Duong Cave (Paradise Cave) – Mooc Stream – Dark Cave
We start our journey with Vietnam airlines (the best airline in Vietnam) from Ho Chi Minh city to Dong Hoi at 7am. Dong Hoi airport is a small airport located in the center of Dong Hoi city, there are not many flights coming here. There are only 2-3 flights from Ho Chi Minh city to this airport every day, and the flight at 7 am is the earliest. We chose this flight because we will have more time to explore this place.
8:30 am, the flight arrived Dong Hoi airport. We took our luggage and went to the car (we reserved a 16-seat car for our 10 persons). Dong Hoi airport is quite small, so when we got off the airport, we met the driver immediately. We got on the car and moved straight to Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park.
Phong Nha Cave and Thien Duong Cave are the two most famous caves in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park. The foreign tourists know more about Phong Nha cave, while the domestic tourists often go to Thien Duong cave.
Phong Nha cave is also known as the water cave. When you come here, you will get on a boat going through the cave inside. Tourists will be sudden to sudden when they pass through narrow paths and admire this world cultural heritage.
Paradise Cave is also located in this world-recognized heritage complex. However, the Paradise Cave is called a dry cave, because visitors will move around by foot. Visitors will climb to the mountain before walking into the cave entrance to visit this cave.
Depending on your preferences, you can choose one of these two caves. You can also visit both caves, but you need to go for 2 days to make time more relaxed. If there is only one day in Quang Binh, you should choose one of these two caves. And we chose Thien Duong cave.
The distance from Dong Hoi airport to Thien Duong cave is about 65km, it takes about 1.5 hours to move. On the way, we encountered peaceful idyllic scenes in the countryside of Vietnam: Lazy buffaloes are lying down in the water for a day of sun, cows are casually grazing, then the mountains appear. We went to Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, and started to visit Thien Duong cave.
Ticket to Thien Duong cave is 250,000 VND / person. Children under 1.3m have lower prices. After buying the ticket and going through the ticket counter, you must move a 2km stretch of road. You can walk or take the electric car to finish this road. Electric car price is 25,000 VND / person / round trip. Our group took a electric car because there were children. The feeling of riding a electric car in the forest is interesting. Electric cars run “bon bon” on the road with cool air.
Arriving at the stop, we started walking up the mountain. The road is about 30 minutes on foot. Those are zigzag paths leading up to the top of the mountain. Our sweats spit out. Partly because the weather in this land is too hot, partly because there is no wind. After a while, we reached the cave door. There is a minishop which sell water in front of the cave. I bought an ice cream, it felt great to eat ice cream here.
The journey into the cave will take you from surprise to surprise. The name paradise is worthy of its name. We walked on the wooden road, watching the cave and stalactites, admiring…
The paradise cave is 31km long, deep into the carpet inside. However, visitors usually visit only a small part of the cave. If you want to visit further inside (more 6km), you must buy cave exploration package costing 2,000,000 VND / person. There will be instructors taking you into the small streets deep inside the cave. We only visit a part of the cave and leave.
The car takes us to the lunch point, Mooc springs tourist area. This is a tourist area, and inside you can swim streams, admire nature. However, we stopped here for lunch. We stopped by the restaurant’s seating area and ordered two sets “Met” including chicken, shrimp, barbecue, stream fish, and rice. Very delicious!
After taking a break, we visit the dark cave tourist area. The path to the paradise cave will pass through this place so it is very convenient to visit. At this place, visitors can go to Zip Line, then go kayaking on the river, bathe in the blue river, and go into the dark mud bath. Combo service from 270,000 VND / person. This is a very interesting experience after be tired of climbing the cave. Unfortunately, because we don’t have enough time, we don’t have time to experience it.
We departed for Dong Hoi city. Our hotel is a Riverside hotel closed to the river. This is a 4-star local hotel, with a nice view but no swimming pool. The quality of hotels in Dong Hoi is not comparable to hotels in neighboring areas such as Hue or Da Nang, so the service is not too good.
In the afternoon, we went to Nhat Le beach to swim. Bao Ninh and Nhat Le are the 2 most beautiful beaches in Dong Hoi. You can use the public bus in Dong Hoi to go to the beach. White sand, waves, beautiful sea, so swimming here is a great option. However, you have to notice: first, you should swim after 4 pm because the weather in the central of Vietnam is very hot. Secondly, at Nhat Le beach, there are many seafood restaurants, you can choose any restaurant, ask for prices and enjoy seafood at the sea.
In the evening, we drink sugarcane juice opposite the hotel and play guitar. Sea breeze, warm voice, clear sound, we feel enjoyable and comfortable. We also take a tram tour around the city, watching the night sea, watching the city and the local people.
Ending an exhausting but extremely happy long day! See you tomorrow.