Distance this section: 720km | Distance total: 2,330km
There was no hiding… We had to leave the thermal bath behind us in yet again rainy conditions (and with gear still wet despite best efforts… A/C just doesn’t dry stuff). ☔ Half way through, after a stop for pho soup to warm up, we discovered a shop for ponchos, gloves and Wellington’s. Great business for the shop owner. Naturally, the rain stopped as soon as we put the new gear on 🤷♂️🤔
Our way to Phong Nha led us past Dong Hoi where we found ourselves suddenly riding through a landscape full of sand dunes (which we would explore upon our return from Phong Nha). Impressive really.
We were pretty lazy during our time there (watching a lot of Lucifer on netflix 👿). Another oil change and tightened chain to keep the 🏍 happy. Out highlight in town was the easytiger hostel. Nice outdoor space, many other travellers, live music and ok-ish pizza.
Phong Nha background
- UNESCO world heritage site
- One of the world’s two largest karst regions with 300 caves and grottoes dating back 400m years
- About 130km discovered cave length in total
We didn’t opt to book a day or multiday tour to see the park though there are really good ones on offer (though not cheap with two-day tours priced north of U$300 pP). Check out oxalis for details.
Instead, we went on the circular route and visited a cave, the botanical garden and took in the amazing scenery.
Largest caves in the world
- Son Doong Cave, Vietnam.
- Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, U.S.A.
- Mulu Caves, Borneo.
- Sistema Sac Actun, Mexico.
- New Athos Cave, Georgia.
Son Doong Cave
The botanical gardens weren’t all that spectacular bar a waterfall and some monkeys. The way to the gardens, however, was super atmospheric!
Much better and impressive was our visit to paradise cave – a huge cave system discovered in 2005. It measures 31km length, up tp 70m height and 150m width (though only a 1km section is open to public). Really worthwhile seeing without having to hike too far or stay in the woods overnight. In the park you can also explore the worlds largest cave – Son Doong, that is if you have 6 days and U$3000 spare. There is also the Phong Nha cave with its. 7km underground river. Next time 😉.
Instead of heading straight north to Ninh Binh by bike, we intended to take the overnight train from Dong Hoi. Sadly, no train that could transport 🏍 today though a very helpful lady (that spoke good 🇬🇧) got us a night bus ticket – 🏍 included! Off to Ninh Binh just as all of Vietnam was celebrating their unexpected victory over Jordan in the Asia cup to reach the quarterfinals. Go 🇻🇳!