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Vietnam forum

North Vietnam - Hanoi

Posted by ViajeroJacques on 6/3/2013 at 08:37

Hi everyone, I'm embarking on a trip to Hanoi in April and main intent would definitely be Halong Bay (don't we all?). This trip will take only a week but I do not wish to rush everything in as there's always a next. I've got some queries and please do advise.

1) Which tour operators or cruise operators do you all recommend? I saw a lot of good reviews of Paradise Cruise and Paloma Cruise. Prefer one with good service and in-depth exploration of Halong Bay.

2) Thinking of visiting the caves in central Vietnam, Phong Nha-ke Bang. But saw many reviews of mixed information about visiting the caves. Trekking will be tough but saw that exploration is just brief. Son Doong cave, 8 lady cave and paradise cave are in my list. Any advise on this?

Thank you in advance for your recommendations and advice!

#1 ViajeroJacques has been a member since 6/3/2013. Posts: 1

Posted by Geer1 on 11/4/2013 at 23:43

Paradise cave is awesome, I enjoyed it more then Halong Bay. Son Doong Cave isn't open to visitors yet so can only see Paradise cave and or Phong Nha Cave. I didn't see Phong Nha cave but like I say Paradise cave was awesome.

There are many ways to see the caves. The way I went and it was quite enjoyable and relatively cheap. I stayed in Dong Hoi and rented a scooter to ride out to the cave and back. You could do both caves in a long day this way or just one cave in an average day. It is a nice ride there with some beautiful scenery along the way.

If you aren't into using a scooter there are tours available although they are a little bit pricey. I recommend anyone going to Vietnam see Paradise cave though, it was the highlight of Vietnam for me.

#2 Geer1 has been a member since 14/9/2012. Posts: 540
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Posted by BruceHaydon on 18/5/2013 at 04:04

Posted from within Vietnam.

Paradise cave would be my choice to visit again .

#3 BruceHaydon has been a member since 18/5/2013. Posts: 6

Posted by PNFS on 22/6/2013 at 23:21

Posted from within Vietnam.

Paradise Cave is part of the Vom Cave System and the 1km most tourists do see is an Awesome Site. It is also pssible to go further into the cave on prearranged trips. It was discovered in 2005, opened to tourism as late as Christmas eve 2010. I was their 1st paying guest on Boxing Day 2010 with my cousin visiting from Australia.
Phong Cave is very interesting and has some great historical tales to hear about from the Cham era to the American War and on finely till it was explored by the Brittish caving association in 1990.
The Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park is full of spectacular scenery and very interesting history to do with the Ho Chi Minh Trail network of roads that are still in use through the Jungle and mountain Passes of the Park.
If you are interested in seeing the Park and the Caves, we at the Phong Nha Farmstay (PNFS) are happy to send out an information sheet on what is on offer in the area. We run a guest house in a rural location outside the Park and we run and help arrange excursions to the caves, park and rural country side surrounding us. We also help people arrange more autonomous site seeing arrangements if they choose to take themselves about. If we are full we still give advise on getting to and from the region and can help arrange seeing the area.
a couple of of the lesser known things to do in the area are;
-a day trip (Summer Season Only) or multiple day trip to the Tu Lan Valley. Explore the Tu Lan Cave System. Very much adventure......
-2 day trekking to Hang En (Swallow Cave) through the Ban Doong Valley and Minority Village and within a short distance of Hang Son Doong which as Geer1 mentions above isn't as yet opened to tourism. Hang En is big though, very big.............
On that trek the group usually camp in Hang En overnight on a beach in the cave. Hang En and Hang Son Doong are part of the Phong Nha Cave System.
-My favourite thing to do as an expat here is ride up the Bong Lai Valley along the Bung River and visit the "Pub with Cold Beer" (A local house on a dirt track) where you order lunch. While lunch cooks you can grab some tubes and float down the Bung River or help the local ladt, Nuyet prepare dinner. A bit of an improvised cooking lesson. When you order, they kill the chickens and pick the veggies from the garden. The Rice and ingredients to the Satay Sauce are grown by them as well. This meal is delicious and has a very small carbon footprint.

There is a lot to do in the area and it's a bit out of the way, so at the Phong Nha Farmstay we insist on a minimum of 2 night stays. There are many other options for accommodation around closer to the park though that do accept 1 night stays. If you only have one day in the area I'd recommend trying to get to Paradise Cave by hook or by crook.
More Info can be found at or by emailing us at

#4 PNFS has been a member since 28/9/2011. Posts: 6

Posted by london_micheal on 23/6/2013 at 21:28

Posted from within Vietnam.

It's really good place to visit.

#5 london_micheal has been a member since 23/5/2013. Location: United States. Posts: 4

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