Quang Binh’s tourism destinations lure visitors

Thien-duong-cave-300x225 Quang Binh s tourism destinations lure visitorsThe Vietnam Records Organization has just announced the four most attractive tourism destinations in Quang Binh Province. Accordingly, Nhat Le Beach is among the 10 most beautiful beaches. Phong Nha Cave is listed in the top 5 Vietnamese caves with mysterious beauty. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is chosen as one of the 20 most popular destinations in the country. Ngang Pass, which links Quang Binh and Ha Tinh provinces, is recognised as one of the top 5 most famous passes in Vietnam.

Quang Binh Province’s tourism industry has strongly developed in recent years. It is considered as a key economic sector in the province.

Quang Binh received more than 2.4 million visitors in the first seven months of this year, doubling the figure of the same period last year.

The New York Times named Quang Binh as one of the most attractive destinations in Asia and eighth out of the world’s 52 top must-go sites for 2014.

The American Business Insider Magazine has recognized Son Doong cave system in the province as one of the world’s 12 most impressive. The National Geographic Magazine, Russian version, said the tour to Son Doong is a top adventurous tour for 2014.

The world’s largest cave has been also listed as one of famous places in the world, which will become “hotspots” for visitors over the next two decades by The Huffington Post. The American online news aggregator and blog described Son Doong cave showed that it is an interesting destination for a 7-day tour with discovery of underground rivers, caves and camping activities.

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The mysteries of forests in Quang Binh

Mystery-of-forests-in-Quang-Binh-300x199 The mysteries of forests in Quang BinhWe all felt secure when we were led by Nham, who has spent half of his life in the forest and seems to know every inch of the forest in Minh Hoa where there are some magnificent caves that few people know about. During our trip, we had to climb over many rocks and go through deep valleys under the canopy of a primitive forest.

The forest was wet with dew and the rotten leaves made moss grow on rough rocky blocks. It was so dangerous that if one took a false step they could hit their face on the sharp rugged rocks or fall into the mountain creeks.

Our first destination was a rather flat sand bank near an unnamed stream. According to Nham, all large and small streams in Minh Hoa forest run from the inside of the mountains where there are wonderful caves.

To get to the first cave, we must cross a stream using life buoys made from inflated inner tubes. Entering the cave, we were surprised by a wonderful “palace” with charming stalactite curtains hanging down from the cave’s ceiling.

Inside, the cave looks like an artificial stage with glamorous stalagmites which are in the shape of dancing animals.

There are three giant stalagmite pillars arranged into a three-gate entrance of a pagoda. Leaving the first cave, we spent more than three hours climbing the mountains to reach the second cave. Here, the stalactites and stalagmites have a shiny brass colour and give sounds like bells when beating.

The ground in the cave was covered by pebbles of the size of chicken-eggs. When the light hits them just right, the pebbles sparkle and seem transparent.

Dinh Hong Nham said: “During my trips to the forest, I discovered five caves at the riverhead and most of these caves connect with each other. In these caves, there are some stretches that are submerged by underground water, causing difficulty in traveling.”

Phong Nha Grottoes are considered a splendid castle that is appreciated by the tourism sector. The system of caves in Minh Hoa forest is like a sleeping beauty who is waiting to be awakened.

Talking about these caves, Dinh Minh Chat, Chairman of Minh Hoa District People’s Committee said: “Minh Hoa District is a buffer zone of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park so that it has many beautiful caves.

Recently, the district has conducted surveys to make plans to protect and call for investment in building trans-forest tracking tours to discover the beauty of the new system of caves.

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Trekkers start exploring charms of Tu Lan cave in Quang Binh

Tu-Lan-Cave-300x199 Trekkers start exploring charms of Tu Lan cave in Quang BinhDiscovered in 2009, Tu Lan now consists of eight caves, and still counting more, either wet, dry, small or big-scale, lying 70km northwest of the town of Phong Nha, near Vietnam’s border with Laos. It spreads through four valleys covered with pristine forests and unnamed rivers. There are many magnificent stalagmites and stalactites inside the caves, together with splendid waterfalls and underground rivers making Tu Lan a unique spot for both sightseeing for adventure.

Trekkers will be accompanied by English-speaking tour guides and local jungle men who will take them to untouched caves, then cross shallow rivers and trek 5km through dense jungle rich with butterflies and birdlife.

A highlight during the tour is the time spent at a campsite, listening to the sounds of waterfall and night critters, and hearing some interesting stories about the local ethnic people.

As safety is absolutely paramount on all trips, they will be equipped with helmets, life jackets, headlights, hammocks, sleeping bags, trekking boots, among others.

Nature has bestowed a diversity of natural landscapes on Quang Binh with plains, mountains, lakes and caves. It is well-known for various natural attractions, especially the ‘Kingdom of Caves’, a complex of over 300 caves, found in the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, which was recognised as a World Natural Heritage Site by the UNESCO last year.

Most recently, the New York Times named Quang Binh as one of the most attractive destinations in Asia and eighth out of the world’s 52 top tourist destinations for 2014.

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More and more visitors wait for exploring Son Doong cave

Only 164 people visited the natural masterpiece, Son Doong cave, located in the heart of Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, a UNESCO-recognised nature heritage site, in the first half of this year. Son-Doong More and more visitors wait for exploring Son Doong caveManagers said the figure is still modest in comparison with visitors’ demand, however it generated a revenue of nearly 10 billion VND (nearly 470,000 USD) for central Quang Binh Province, the host locality of the cave.

Many people who have booked the tour, which is sold online only, said they are still waiting for their turn to explore the cave, which is described as the largest in the world.

Nguyen Van Ky, vice director of the Quang Binh Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism, revealed that only four trips, each having eight people, were organised a month as the tour is still on a trial basis.

The province plans to review the tour’s efficiency, including its cost, in August this year in a bid to make the optimal plans for future exploratory activities. During the trial period, each seven-day-and-six-night tour costs a visitor 3,000 USD.

Recently, the cave welcomed Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Quang Binh opened Son Doong Cave in 2013, instantly catapulting it onto the bucket lists of travellers around the world.

The cave’s entrance was first discovered by a local man in 1991, and was further explored by a group of cavers from the British Cave Research Association in 2009. This was the third cave to be discovered in the central province – an expansive karst area buried deep in the jungle.

The cave is said to have been created two to five million years ago with river water eroding the limestone underneath the mountain. It is also described as having enough space to house 40-storey skyscrapers and 100-feet-tall trees.

Son Doong has a length of at least 6.5 kilometres and is estimated to be 200 metres in width and at least 150 metres in height, while its very largest chamber is an incredible 250 metres in height, enough space to accommodate 40-storey skyscrapers. Cave tourism has recently turned Quang Binh into a hot spot for visitors from around the world.

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Phong Nha Cave – A Magical Beauty

Phong-nha-cave-300x199  Phong Nha Cave - A Magical BeautyPhong Nha is the most exemplary cave, in terms of aesthetic value and beauty, in Phong Nha – Ke Bang. After almost 20 years of tourism development in Phong Nha, tourists now have the opportunity to experience all seven outstanding features of Phong Nha Cave, as listed by the British Royal Cave Explorers’ Society. These include:

  • Cave with a high and wide door
  • Cave with the most beautiful sand and reefs
  • Cave with the most beautiful underground river
  • Cave with the most magnificent system of stalactites
  • Cave with dry, high and wide chambers
  • Cave with a beautiful, deep and wide lake
  • The longest wet cave.

With a length of 7,729m, Phong Nha is one of the world’s longest water caves. In particular, this is the sole cave with an underground river in Vietnam that is opened for tourists.

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New massive cave discovered in Phong Nha Ke Bang

The group of locals, who was on a trip to do wood work from the province’s Phuc Trach Commune, said the cave’s entrance is covered by forest trees in the territory of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. The newly discovered cave is said to be 3km east of Thien Duong (Paradise) Cave and 300m above sea level.

New-cave-in-Quang-Binh New massive cave discovered in Phong Nha Ke BangAccording to initial accounts, the new cave is said to be on the same grand scale as Paradise, is very long and has an inner stream. The discovery comes as Quang Binh has been catapulted onto world travel lists as one of the most coveted destinations for cave explorers.

The province has four caves with tours running daily, Son Doong, Tu Lan, Paradise and Phong Nha. The Son Doong, which was discovered in 2009, is said to be the world’s largest cave, according to the British Cave Research Association.

Nguyen Chau A, who works closely with British cave explorers to run sustainable tours through Son Doong and the Tu Lan caves, said there are still more caves in the area that have not yet been discovered.

In a recent trip to Tu Lan Cave, a British caver told Viet Nam News that she believed there are a lot of caves around the site. Local authorities expect cave-related tourism to bolster the local economy and reduce illegal forest logging.

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Phong Nha cave half day trip

Tour Code: IGT-CAV-11

Duration: 1/2 Day

Price: From US$ 38 – 135/ Pax

Car and guide will pick you up in Dong Hoi and bring to Phong Nha boat station. Drive the boat along the Song Son river to watch the beautiful landscape of riversides before get into the Phong Nha cave where tourists can visit 600m inside. After Phong Nha cave, late afternoon, tourists will enjoy the sunset during the drive back to Phong nha boat station. Van will pick up at the boat station and bring to Dong Hoi.

Phong-nha-cave Phong Nha cave half day tripITINERARY:

  • 11:30 pick up at Dong Hoi and bring to Phong Nha
  • 12:30 Arrive at Phong Nha for lunch before visiting the caves
  • 13:30 Start the tour with 30 minutes driving on the boat along Song river
  • 14:00 – 16:00 Visiting Phong Nha cave
  • 16:00 – 16:30 Get back to Phong Nha boat station
  • 17:00 Arrive at Phong Nha boat station and van picks up and bring to Dong Hoi
  • 18:00 Arrive Dong Hoi. Tour ends

Land price per person (PRIVATE Tour):

Group 1 pax 2 pax 3-5 pax 6-8 pax 9-12 pax >12 pax
Cost
135 75 50 45 40 38

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Tour includes:

  • Lunch (light lunch)
  • Entrance fees
  • Tour guide
  • Transportation (car & boat)

Excludes:

  • Hotel (Before and after the tour)
  • Food before and after the tour
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel insurance
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Paradise cave half day trip

Tour Code: IGT-CAV-12

Duration: 1/2 Day

Price: US$ 40 – 215/ Pax

Car and guide will pick you up in Dong Hoi and bring to Phong Nha for visiting Paradise cave – one of the longest dry cave in Southeast Asia. Van will drive on the Ho Chi Minh trail through the Phong Nha-Ke Bang national park, thus tourists will have chance to see the limestone mountain and river during the drive. After driving with golf car and walking up 524 steps, tourists will meet a huge cave named Paradise and will spend two hours in the cave. After the paradise cave, tourists will continue driving along Ho Chi Minh trail to meet the Road 20 victory to learn about its story. Finish driving on road 20 victory, our van and guide will bring you to Dong Hoi.

ITINERARY:

  • 7:00: Car and guide pick up at hotel in Dong Hoi
  • 8:30: Start driving the golf car to visit Paradise cave
  • 9:00 – 12:00 Visit Paradise cave
  • 12:00 Lunch and drive back on the road 20 victory and learn it history during the drive
  • 13:30 Arrive Dong Hoi. Tour ends

Land price per person (PRIVATE Tour):

Group 1 pax 2 pax 3-5 pax 6-8 pax 9-12 pax >12 pax
Cost
215 115 85 60 45 40

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Tour includes:

  • Lunch (light lunch)
  • Entrance fees
  • Tour guide
  • Transportation (car & & golf car)

Excludes:

  • Hotel (Before and after the tour)
  • Food before and after the tour
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel insurance
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Hang En 2Days – Ultimate Cave Adventure

Tour Code: IGT-CAV-16

Duration: 2Days / 1 Night

Price: US$270 per person,departures every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 8:00AM from local hotels in Phong Nha (minimum 2 pax)

SMALL GROUPS – WEEKLY DEPARTURES – ONE OF THE MOST CAPTIVATING CAVES IN THE WORLD

Hang-en-trekking-300x191 Hang En 2Days - Ultimate Cave AdventureExperience one of the biggest WOW factors in Vietnam on this two-day tour to one of the largest caves in the world. You’ll meet a remote minority ethnic group living deep in the jungle, visit the jaw-dropping exit made famous by National Geographic, and spend the night inside a massive chamber with thousands of darting swifts overhead.

On this trip you’ll spend your first day scrambling down a jungle mountain from an elevation of 500m, before passing through a remote mountain tribe of only 42 people in Ban Doong Village. Look out for the crazy owl! After which you will follow a spectacular river valley to reach Hang En Cave, which has been recognized as one of the most captivating caves on earth by National Geographic! Hang En Cave is an incredible feat of nature and you will not see anything like it anywhere else in the world.

With your expert English-speaking guide and porter team, you’ll explore this magnificent cave and see some fascinating fossils, which are over 300 million years old. You will follow the river through the cave before coming across your campsite on a sandy beach, below a collapsed section of the cave, where you can gaze out to the stars in the evening. You’ll enjoy a delicious BBQ dinner with some local rice wine and hear stories from your guide about the local people and their culture. This is designed as an adventure tour and not a walk in the park. Be prepared for a difficult trek up the mountain on the second day!

Safety is absolutely paramount on all trips operated by iGrandtour and you will be provided with helmets, life jackets, headlights and trekking boots (sizes 38 – 46). All camping gear will also be provided and carried by your porter team. However, you will be responsible for carrying your own clothes and camera etc.

Adventure Level: Moderate-to-High (16km). You should have experience trekking before attempting this tour with Us. It is a tough walk out the following day!

Highlights: National Park, Ban Doong Village, Rao Thuong River Valley, Hang En Cave.

Trekking Gear: Helmet, Trekking Boots (limited sizes 38-46), Headlight, Life Jacket, Tent, Sleeping Bag.

Rao-thuong-river-300x225 Hang En 2Days - Ultimate Cave Adventure

Doong-village-300x191 Hang En 2Days - Ultimate Cave Adventure Hang-En-cave-300x225 Hang En 2Days - Ultimate Cave Adventure

ITINERARY:

Day 1: Phong Nha – K35 – Ban Doong Village – Hang En Cave (L,D)

  • 08:00 – Pick up at local Phong Nha Hotel.
  • 08:30 – Collect equipment at Oxalis HQ and depart in vehicle for trekking point.
  • 09:30 – Arrive at trekking point at K35 on Ho Chi Minh Road and start trekking.
  • 11:30 – Arrive at Ban Doong Minority Village with picnic lunch at nearby river location.
  • 14:30 – Arrive at Hang En Campsite.
  • 15:00 – Explore Hang En and visit Hang En Exit.
  • 18:00 – Enjoy BBQ Dinner and watch the thousands of swifts overhead and maybe a flying fox.
  • 20:00 – Overnight at Campsite in Hang En’s huge passage.

Day 2: Hang En Campsite Viewpoint – Hang En Fossils – Ban Doong Village – Phong Nha (B,L)

  • 07:00 – Breakfast
  • 08:00 – Explore dry passage to viewpoint high above campsite. See 300 million year old fossils.
  • 10:00 – Trek back through river valley to Ban Doong Village. Explore area around village.
  • 12:30 – Picnic lunch by small stream.
  • 13:30 – Trek up the big hill to Ho Chi Minh Road (very challenging!)
  • 15:30 – Cold drinks at Ho Chi Minh Road and return by vehicle to Phong Nha.
  • 17:00 – Arrive at your Phong Nha Hotel.

Tour Includes: Picnic Lunches, Dinner, Breakfast (Day 2), Entrance Fees, Trekking & Camping Gear, Tour Guide, Porters (1 porter per 3 pax), Transport and VAT.

Tour Excludes: Hotel (before/after the tour), Breakfast/Dinner (before/after the tour), Personal Expenses and Travel Insurance.

Price & Reservations: US$275 per person with departures every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 8:00AM from local hotels in Phong Nha (minimum 2 pax).

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Tu Lan 2Days – Jungle & Cave Discovery

Tour Code: IGT-CAV-17

Duration: 2Days / 1 Night

Price: US$220 per person,departures every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:00AM from local hotels in Phong Nha (minimum 2 pax)

SMALL GROUPS – WEEKLY DEPARTURES – BEST JUNGLE & CAVE ADVENTURE IN VIETNAM

Hang-Kim-Waterfall-300x200 Tu Lan 2Days - Jungle & Cave DiscoveryExplore the fascinating jungle and cave area of Tu Lan, a one and a half hours drive from Phong Nha Town. With your expert English-speaking guide and also porter team from nearby Tan Hoa minority village, you’ll spend two-days and one-night deep in the jungle, exploring wild caves with underground rivers, waterfalls, awesome cave formations and rare cave pearls.

Our two-day discovery will include about 12 kilometers of trekking and a few hundred meters of swimming through caves. You will also cross the river a couple of times and enjoy swimming in pristine lagoons. It’s the perfect trip for those short on time but still keen to do a real jungle and cave adventure in Vietnam. Spot flying foxes in the early evening as you enjoy a delicious BBQ meal cooked over the fire by your porter team.

You’ll explore the depths of Hung Ton Cave where you must descend a 15m ladder with our safety rope, before jumping in the river and swimming about 100m. Look out for the bats! You will emerge from the cave in the stunning To Mo Valley, which is somewhat hidden from the world as it is surrounded by towering limestone mountains. Kim Cave, found by one of our guests, and Ken Cave are also on the itinerary, showcasing some amazing cave formations.

Safety is absolutely paramount on all trips operated by iGrandtour and you will be provided with helmets, life jackets, headlights and trekking boots (sizes 38 – 46). All camping gear will also be provided and carried by your porter team. The minimum age for this tour is 16 years with no exceptions. All tours are on a join-in basis (we do not accept private tours) with minimum of 2 people to depart. Our group sizes are usually no more than 8 people.

Adventure Level: Moderate-to-High (12km). You should have a decent level of fitness as this is a real adventure!.

Highlights: Primary Forest; Tu Lan Cave, Hung Ton Cave, To Mo Valley, Hang Kim Cave, Swimming in Caves (weather permitting), Ken Waterfall, Overnight in jungle.

Trekking Gear: Helmet, Trekking Boots (sizes 38-46), Headlight, Life Jacket, Hammock, Sleeping Bag.

To-Mo-Valley1-300x2252 Tu Lan 2Days - Jungle & Cave Discovery

HangKenRiver-300x1992 Tu Lan 2Days - Jungle & Cave Discovery

HungTon-dry-cave2-300x2012 Tu Lan 2Days - Jungle & Cave Discovery

ITINERARY:

Day 1: Phong Nha – Tan Hoa – Tu Lan Valley (L,D)

  • 08:00 – Pick up from local hotels in Phong Nha and transfer.
  • 09:00 – Depart for Tan Hoa Village and drive 70kms through the spectacular Da Deo Mountain Pass.
  • 10:30 – Arrive in Tan Hoa Village and trek across peanut and buffalo fields to the Rao Nan River (2.5km)
  • 11:00 – Cross-river and climb rocky hill before descending into Hung Ton Valley (1km).
  • 11:30 – Arrive at Hung Ton Cave and explore its depths before swimming through the cave to To Mo Valley (200m).
  • 12:00 – Lunch in To Mo Valley at the impressive waterfall campsite.
  • 13:00 – Swim through Kim Cave to enjoy underground waterfalls and where you can try and spot climbing fish (500m).
  • 14:00 – Arrive at Tu Lan Campsite in front of Hang Ken Cave.
  • 15:30 – Visit Tu Lan Valley and Tu Lan Wet and Dry Caves (1.5km).
  • 17:00 – Arrive back at campsite. Swimming at Hang Ken Waterfall.
  • 18:00 – Enjoy a tasty BBQ dinner. Overnight in hammocks.

Day 2: Tu Lan Cave – Hang Ken Cave – Phong Nha (B,L)

  • 07:00 – Breakfast
  • 08:00 – Explore the impressive Ken Cave and swim in the underground river (200m).
  • 09:30 – Trek over the limestone-mountains to Hung Ton Valley, where you will cross the scrub back to the river (4km).
  • 12:30 – Cross the Rao Nan River and trek back across the peanut fields to Tan Hoa (2.5km).
  • 13:00 – Lunch at local homestay in Tan Hoa Village.
  • 14:30 – Pick-up in Tan Hoa and Transfer to Phong Nha.
  • 16:00 – Arrive back in Phong Nha and transfer to local hotels.

Tour Includes: Picnic Lunches, BBQ Dinner, Breakfast (Day 2), Entrance & Environment Fees, Trekking & Camping Gear, Tour Guide, Porter, Transport and VAT.

Tour Excludes: Hotel (before/after the tour), Breakfast/Dinner (before/after the tour), Personal Expenses and Insurance.

Price & Reservations: US$225 per person with departures every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:00AM from local hotels in Phong Nha (minimum 2 pax).

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