Since time immemorial the underground river emerging at Phong Nha Cave has held a mystical fascination for the local population. The earliest – known devotees were ninth – and tenth- century Cham people, followed by Vietnamese who petitioned the guardian sprits during periods of drought, with great success by all accounts. When Europeans started exploring the caves early in the twentieth century it’s said the rainmaker took everlasting umbrage. However, the explorers were undeterred and by the 1950s, tunnels 2km long had been surveyed and the number of visitor warranted a small hotel. Owing to the intervening wars, when Phong Nha provided safe warehousing you can see evidence of an American rocket attack on the cliff above the cave entrance nothing further happened until a British expedition was allowed to investigate in 1990. They began pushing upriver, eventually penetrating deep into the limestone massif, and what they discovered is a spelunker’s delight: 8km of underground waterway, vast chambers full of magical rock formation and intriguing side – channels waiting to be explored.
For the less intrepid, tour boats take you on an attractive, thirty minute trip meandering up the peaceful Son River. The tour begins by climbing steps up a relatively steep cliff face to Tien Son Cave, and a grand view of the valley.
After descending, you will rejoin your boat and explore 600m of Phong Nha Cave, drifting between rippling walls of limestone, awed by the scale of Phong Nha and its immense stalactites and stalagmites, lit by multicolored spotlights. Listen for the bats overhead, but look out for their droppings. The boats drop you at the far end to see a Cham inscription and then again to walk through a dry cave back to the entrance. Note, however, that the boats may not operate after heavy rain if the waste level is too high.Phong Nha Cave
Formed approximately 250million years ago, Phong Nha Cave is the largest and most beautiful cave in Vietnam. It is remarkable for thousands of metres of underground passageways and river caves filled with abundant stalactites and stalagmites. Its rock formations have evocative names such as Lion, Fairy Caves, Royal Court and Buddha. Phong Nha means "Cave of Teeth" and was used by the Northern Vietnamese as a hospital and ammunition depot during the American war.
In 1990, British scientists discovered the main cave is nearly 8km long and 14 other caves nearby. Boat is the only transportation to explore Phong Nha Cave. The more you get further into the cave, the more it is unspoiled. There is a lighting system inside Phong Nha Cave but you can bring a torch for better exploration.
When to go ?
The best time to visit Phong Nha Caves is the dry season, between February and April when the weather is cool and there is no flooding. Travelers should check carefully the weather in this area during November and December before travel as during this period, the river is prone to flooding, the underground cave may be close. Though it's possible, but also may be dangerous to visit the dry cave.