Phong Nha isn't your average Vietnam destination. But it probably should be. After over five months travelling in Vietnam (to most of the hot travel destinations here), this is our favourite. And there's not even a beach out here!
I've known about this place for a while thanks to some other travel bloggers I've followed since ages ago (Nomadasaurus, I can't thank you guys enough).
What had me most curious was the worlds largest cave (no, we probably won't make it out there this trip - it's a three day trek through the jungle with a rather large price tag)...
However, this place is so much more than just caves, farm and jungle. Phong Nha is an incredible destination for history and rural Vietnam life. We knew it needed a bit of time. I dreamed about staying out here for a month and being so bored I'd get a tonne of work done on the blog. However, boredom is not going to happen in this tiny sleepy Vietnamese rural village. Unfortunately, I've got so much to entertain myself with, I haven't even posted about the last half of our Northern Vietnam tour.
It's the opposite of boredom here. Especially because of where we chose to stay. Please stay at Phong Nha Farmstay or Victory Road Villas if you can. Trust me. It is worth it. More than one family planned to stay two nights but ended up staying two weeks and more!
We've enjoyed action packed days every other day. There have been bike tours, we got to watch bombs get detonated, we learned history, went on river cave tours, we walked up caves and went on motorbike tours.
There are cows and buffalos that roam the street every day. The kids are entertained with other kids, toys, lego, marbles, board games, camping in the restaurant, marshmellows, did I mention the swimming pools yet?
There are bikes (motor, bicycle and even a side car), and you can head over to the Farmstay's distant relative, Victory Road Villas, for kayaking and a canoe - which we haven't even done yet because so much to do here!
I'm coming back to this post after we leave this place. But for now, here are our highlights...
Motorbike tour around Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park
This has to be up there with one of our best days in Vietnam. I cannot believe we got four motorbikes, five adults and six children on a tiny bamboo ferry and took that thing across the river... Make sure you watch the video because this is something I never expected to do during our time here!
I haven't posted my pictures yet (they don't do this place justice anyway), but this place was incredible. I really do wonder what the big cave must be like. Paradise Cave felt like we were in outer space. It was truly beautiful!
Cooking lessons were definitely needed. The food over here is incredible. We made these dumpling things (I'll have to check what they actually are - but they are delicious).
Moi Moi Restaurant
This is an outing in itself. You go out, they grab a chicken off the farm and you get to watch the entire process start to finish. It's a BBQ chicken and the bamboo pork is incredible. It's a couple of hours from start to finish, but this is something you don't want to miss. I loved watching the local boy patting the calf, and the puppies entertained our kids. This was a wonderful day out!
Phong Nha Cave
A short motorbike ride away takes you to Phong Nha Visitor Centre where you can pay for a boat tour to the Phong Nha Cave. Make sure you download and listen to the pod guide at visitphongnha.com before you go. Your surroundings are transformed when you know some of the history!
Watching a bomb go off
Ok, so not everyone who visits will time it when MAG have just discovered a 500lb bomb near the Farmstay. But while we were there, this happened...
MAG clears five massive bombs in Vietnam
Last week, MAG teams in Vietnam ?? found and safely disposed of five massive unexploded bombs and 174 explovise items, including: ? 4 x 500lb MK82 ? 1 x 750lb M117 ? 137 x 37mm projectiles ? 1 x 105mm projectile ? 36 x 37mm projectile fuses The deadly remnants of conflict were found in residential areas across Quang Binh. Our work to rid communities of these unexploded threats would not be possible without the support of the U.S. Department of State ?? and Japan - The Government of Japan ??Posted by MAG (Mines Advisory Group) on Monday, August 10, 2020
My video wasn't quite so good. We got distracted as it was exploding. Opps. Bombs are detonated daily around 2-2.30pm. If you think you hear lightning around this time, it's probably another bomb!
Did you know, the Central region of Vietnam was one of the most heavily bombed areas during the American War? There are still plenty of undetonated bombs lying around out here. MAG is out there every day searching, locating and exploding these remnants of the war.
This history out here is mind blowing. I'm learning so much. It's part of why I'm enjoying it here so much.
I've still got a lot of learning to do. I've still got a lot of bucket list places to see out here. But we still have two more weeks in this incredible place.
I hope if you plan a trip to Vietnam, you'll put this place at the top of your must see destinations. This has been incredibly wonderful, and as a family, we all agree, it'll be a tough experience to improve upon.
If you'd like to find out more about this incredible destination, contact Ben via Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/visitphongnha
Check back soon because I'll definitely be updating this one!