Paradise Cave Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park

Paradise Cave Phong Nha national park, things to do in Vietnam, cave tours, dong hoi
Paradise Cave Phong Nha national park, things to do in Vietnam, cave tours, dong hoi

Seen one cave, seen ‘em all? Not the case at Paradise Cave, Phuong Nha Ke Bang National Park

During our 2016 visit to Dong Hoi, we attempted to visit Dark Cave in the Phuong Nha Ke Bang National Park.

It wasn’t to be as bad weather flooded the cave, foiling both our plans and a second shot at it since our schedule was pretty tight at the time. But not this time!

For this trip we planned things a little differently.

One, we made sure we had amazing accommodation at Au Lac Bar and Hostel. A nice, cozy spot to stay for a few extra days in case the weather got nasty. Two, we had a backup plan this time.

We were ready to get our cave on, no matter what!

What attracted us to Paradise Cave?

Phong Nha is well known for its extraordinary cave systems. Heck, it sports the world’s second largest cave, Song Nha.

But we weren’t interested in big brother. We wanted to see two of the smaller systems, famous in their own right, called Paradise and Dark Caves.

Lucky for us, Au Lac Bar and Hostel had connections to a variety of tours to the cave and we picked one by Tour to the Caves. Best part was we could choose which of the three caves we wanted to do! This was perfect because not all tours offer this option and we specifically wanted to see Paradise and Dark caves.

In this blog we’ll tell you all about Paradise Cave and then more on Dark Cave in a different blog as they were two very differed experiences.

The best way to get to Paradise Cave

Paradise Cave Vietnam Phong Nha National Park cave tour things to do in vietnam

Almost everything you read will tell you to stay in Phong Nha because it’s closest to the caves, but we beg to differ.

Dong Hoi isn’t that much further out and most tours are happy to pick you up from your hotel in Dong Hoi, as was the case with Tour to the Caves.

If you prefer to do the caves on your own then a taxi or private transfer is your best option. Private transfer possibly being the cheaper of the two options. Most hotels and/or hostels can hook you up with private transfers.

The beauty of Paradise Cave

We opted to do this one first and keep the fun and excitement of Dark Cave for last (wink-wink).

On arrival we made our way to a waiting electric buggy that took us up to the stairs leading to Paradise cave. It’s an approximate 1.2 kilometers ride and you can walk it using the covered walk way provided.

Paradise Cave Phong Nha national park, things to do in Vietnam, cave tours, dong hoi

Good thing is there are plenty of rest stops for catching your breath.

Before entering Paradise Cave

At the entrance to the cave is a visitor’s area with seating, vending machines and an attendee desk.

This is a great spot to grab a seat, catch your breath and revel in the breathtaking jungle covered karts surroundings.

There are boards with basic information on the discovery of Paradise Cave, its layout and basic safety instructions to be aware of.

You can buy water or other cold beverages from the vending machines, but we opted to take our own which you can do too.

Paradise Cave Phong Nha national park, things to do in Vietnam, cave tours, dong hoi

A fun experience for all.

Paradise Cave is a relaxing and fun experience that anyone can enjoy.

The staircase from the mouth of the cave down to the viewing platforms and walk ways might look intimidating but it’s not that bad.

The walk ways are relatively well lit.  Enough to make your way around comfortably but doesn’t detract from the stunning views.

The experience will either leave your jaw dragging behind you or leave a massive smile on your dial.

Is Paradise Cave affected by weather?

It sure is. We weren’t sure whether we were actually going to make it to the caves due to rain the previous two days.

Fortunately, the rain wasn’t heavy enough to affect the cave for our visit but it can and does flood during the wet season, which may affect your visit.

The tourism industry in Dong Hoi is pretty onto too, especially during the wet season!  This means all you have to do is ask your hotel on the status of the caves. We got unprompted updates each morning at breakfast from our hostel hosts.

Another great testament to the amazing customer service you can expect in Dong Hoi.

What’s best, a guided tour or a DIY tour?

It’s a cave, so you have the option of going with a tour or you can just do it on your own.

Pros and cons of a tour depends on your travel needs.  Usually we avoid them but this time round we decided a tour was better and we weren’t disappointed.

We learned things about the area and the discovery of the cave systems in it from a local that we wouldn’t have found by ourselves.

Also, our tour guide, was amazing to interact with. He was not only local but passionate about sharing his knowledge of his home and had some really interesting tidbits to share with us.

Tour to the Caves were great at making sure their guests got the most out of their experience and we thoroughly enjoyed our company!

How long does a visit to Paradise Cave take?

One kilometer doesn’t sound like much but we loved every second of it and almost ran out of time to see the whole thing.

It took us two hours to do Paradise cave but mostly because I was running around taking a million photos and we were shooting for our vlog too.

On your own, you could probably smash it out in 45 minutes to an hour.  Maybe less if you’re just there for a quick look and it would still be worth the visit.

Leon and Tash Vlog

Paradise Cave was the first half of our Tours of the Cave experience and we loved every minute of it!

What to expect of your visit to Paradise Cave

Discovery of Paradise Cave

In 2005 by a local wandering the mountains looking for a specific kind of wood found an entrance to what he thought was a small cave.

Not wanting to get lost, he went home and reported the find. This resulted in the government getting a team together to go in and explore the area to see what turned up.

It turned out to be so much more than they expected!

Once the geologists finished digging around and exploring the cavernous space, they found it was over 30 kilometers in length. Think about that for a second…

Paradise Cave Phong Nha national park, things to do in Vietnam, cave tours, dong hoi

What you can see of it today

The first one kilometer of the cave is open to visitors and is accessible by existing walkways.  The widest section in this part of the cave is about 170 meters across and the deepest spot takes you down 150 meters.

There are many platforms connected by a wide walk way, catering to large crowds making it easy to get around.  You get plenty of opportunities to gawk in awe at the different formations and changing sub terrain landscapes.

The fact that it has sat dormant for so long is extraordinary but then, Vietnam is discovering a lot about herself in a short space of time and we love exploring her!

Paradise Cave entrance fee

Our day tour with Tours to the Cave cost us VND1,350,000 (~USD59.00 / ~AUD82.00) per person, which included entry to both Paradise and Dark Caves.  Lunch was also included in this price.

If you prefer to visit Paradise cave on your own, then entry is VND250,000 (~USD11.00 / ~AUD15.00) and includes the electric buggy ride.

Tickets are available at a stand by the entry gate or if you are travelling with a tour group, then stick with your guide, they’ve got you covered.

One thing that sold us on the tour was the included lunch. There are some options to grab something to eat at the caves but it won’t be cheap and might not be what you feel like.

Our lunch consisted of a share table of different dishes including chicken, pork, an array of veggie and rice dishes. There was plenty to go around and it was nice and filling but not too heavy.

Leon and Tash Blog

You don't need to stay in Phong Nha to see the caves and we tell you why!

Would we recommend Paradise Cave?

We enjoyed our visit to Paradise Cave and if caves are your thing, then Paradise Cave is definitely worth adding to the itinerary.

Note: We’re not able to compare it to Phong Nha cave as we opted not do that one. Two of our tour companions went and they were beaming when they joined us, saying it was well worth the visit too.

Dark Cave is a very different experience all together and might not be everyone’s cup of tea but we’ll tell you more about why in our next blog.

If you’re looking for a fun and relaxing experience with a bit of action to get the heart pumping then we highly recommend a visit to Paradise Cave.

And if this is your first visit to our site, welcome!  Head on over to our Things to do in Vietnam Page where we tell you about more things you should add to your Vietnam itinerary.

Don’t forget to subscribe and join our Tribe!  You’ll find us on Twitter, Facebook , Insta  and YouTube too!

Thanks for reading guys and we’ll see you in the next post…

Paradise Cave Phong Nha national park, things to do in Vietnam, cave tours, dong hoi

Khach San Ngoc Phuong Bao Loc

Kach San Ngoc Phuong

Good budget accommodation in Bao Loc

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Khach San Ngoc Phuong was the first of what is going to be many one-nighters on the second stretch of our road trip adventure.

The LTXtraordinary Road Trip

So, why only one night in Bao Loc? We’ll tell you more in our Leg 10 blog. In the meantime, let’s tell you more about our over night stay.

Where to book Khac San Ngoc Phuong

If you haven’t met us before, first off, welcome. Secondly, if you had you would know we rave about the conveniences of using Hotels Combined. Especially when we are out on our road trip.

How we choose accommodation in Vietnam

Khac San Ngoc Phuong was our winner. Not only did it offer the basic conveniences we look for but it had a couple of our ‘luxury items’ too. Bonus!

In addition to the above it came at a great price which was why we booked it on the spot.

(PS: those are affiliate links. You don’t pay extra to use them but we do get a small commission and that helps keep us on the road longer and to tell you about more places like this one!)

Location

Our winner sat slightly past the town center at 184 Lam Sơn, Lộc Sơn, but this was on purpose. We chose this hotel because it sat just off the route we had mapped out for the next morning to Da Lat.

More importantly, it was close to a gas station and walking distance to a brand new Vincom complex. Handy for stocking up on water and Netflix supplies.

We also found a Jolibee inside and decided to have lunch while we were at it.

Facilities

Khach San Ngoc Phuong had stories and no elevator on site. The staircase was semi enclosed which buffered a bit of the ground level noise.

They offer two simple options in room type, namely twin and double rooms.

For us the bonus was that they had free, secure onsite parking. In fact, it was so secure we couldn’t even get to them the next morning. LOL. It didn’t take much to free them so there was no hassle there.

They also have free WiFi but we didn’t end up using it so can’t tell you if it’s any good or not.

Our Double Room

We stayed in a nice light and spacious double room at the front of the property. Furnished in traditional Vietnamese furniture.

Initially we thought it might be noisy due to the busy road but as soon as we settled in, we realized it wasn’t an issue at all.

We had a large bed with a firm mattress which wasn’t too uncomfortable. The linen was clean and decent and included a light blanket.

The room came with a small fridge, kettle, large flat screen TV and cable channels. Basic but nice.

We had a private bathroom in the familiar all-in-one style we’ve come to know so well. And it came stocked with clean towels and basic toiletries.

Unfortunately, the hot water didn’t last long but the pressure was good. Thankfully the small water heater worked fast and we didn’t have to wait too long to take showers.

Service

The check in process was easy.

I simply showed my passport, he took a photo of it and gave it back to me.

That was a first, as they will usually hold your passport until check out. Not sure why this was different, but if we find out, we’ll let you know.

Apart from the above, our only other interaction with staff was when they asked us to park the bikes in the garage.

They were very friendly and easy to interact with, even with the lack of English. We just used Google translate and that worked a treat.

Cost

Our one night cost us VND250,000 (~USD11.00 / ~AUD15.00). Not a bad deal at all.

Khach San Ngoc Phuong lets you book a room without using a credit card and you can pay in cash on check in or check out.

That’s our stay at Khach San Ngoc Phuong

The only thing that marred our stay a bit was the weird artificial bird song coming from the balcony.

The same song played continuous. It didn’t stop until around 11PM and fired up again at 5AM. It just wasn’t happiness.

But as I said it was the only thing that was frustrating and it’s small in the grand scheme of things.

The rest our stay was very enjoyable. We would happily use it again if we need another reason to overnight in Bao Loc. Next time in a back room though, ha-ha!

Have questions about Khach San Ngoc Phuong?

Hope this was of use but if you’re looking for more info, then try Our Two Cents Page or our Destination page.

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Then feel free to leave us a comment below. Or you might find the answer on our Leon and Tash channel.

Thanks for reading and see you in the next post…

Two days in Cam Ranh

Two days in Cam Ranh things to do in Cam Ranh

Two days in charming Cam Ranh 

After a fantastic stay in Tuy Hoa, it was time to hit the road and head to the next destination on our list. Cam Ranh was a planned overnight stop. On the ride down though, we discovered there was more to what we thought was a sleepy little coastal town.

We ended up staying two nights to do a bit of exploring and found some interesting things along the way.

First impressions of Cam Ranh

We thought Cam Ranh sat on the coast, next to Bai Dai beach. As it turned out it was a bit inland and right next to main highway, QL1A, instead. It happens to be one of the busier roads in Vietnam and the traffic is insane! More on that in our travel vlog.

Despite the unexpected location, Cam Ranh is full of charm and authentic Vietnam. Our visit here turned out to be a bit of fun on a short stop.

Accommodation in Cam Ranh

Location

We opted for a budget hotel that wasn’t far from our intended route. Motel 42 Cam Ranh (Nha Ngi 42) sits just off QL1A, at 42 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Cam Loc, Cam Ranh. The two nights cost us VND400,000 (~USD17.20) all up. Not a bad deal at all. (PS: that is an affiliate link.  You don’t pay extra to use it but we do get a small commission and that helps keep us on the road longer and to tell you about more awesome places like this one!)

On arrival we met the colorful Loe (pronounced Lo-E) who had plenty of questions and a few stories to tell us.

He was most intrigued by our age and state of childlessness and had a lot of questions about why we chose Vietnam. Loe will certainly be a fond memory for us.

The room

 

Cam Ranh

The room was bigger than expected for a budget option and that’s a bonus for us. It was modestly furnished with a queen bed and small table and chairs. For comfort we had both an AC and fan, as well as a decent sized TV with ALL the cable channels.  (It means we get to catch up on some MotoGP action where possible.)

The bathroom was spacious too but unfortunately didn’t have any hot water. This was the first time we experienced the infamous Vietnamese cold shower. But it didn’t bother us much. We were expecting it based on a few reviews we’ve read of accommodation around Vietnam.

 

Cam Ranh

 

Our stay

The location and room were perfect for a short stop. We had no gripes except maybe for the constant traffic noise coming from the main highway.  The excessive honking all ours of the day and night got a tad irritating.

But that was the only negative!  Overall, we enjoyed our stay and Loe was an absolute treat!

What to eat in Cam Ranh

When planning our overnight stays, we also look for locations for food and supplies. This included things like meals, coffees, gas station, drinking water, etc. When riding motorcycles for four to six hours at a time, the last thing we feel like is running around looking for food and supplies.

Com Ga

Cam Ranh not only gave us an option for com ga (our favourite dish!) but it was chicken and rice with a new addition!

Our meal arrived in a colorful combo of broken rice, chicken and a heap of pickled veggies and fresh herbs.  Nicely finished off with a dollop of mayonnaise.

The surprise was the cute little bowl of soup that came with it. It was a lovely light chicken broth with fresh herbs and a poached quail’s egg in it. We haven’t come across this combo before and it was delicious! And for VND50,000 (~USD2.15) for both meals, it was a absolute score!

We enjoyed it so much that we ended up going back on our second night. If you’re ever in Cam Ranh, we recommend the com ga (chicken and rice) at Com Ga Hai on Huyinh Thuc Khang.

Cam Ranh

Roadside Banh Bao

We also tried a roadside banh bao vendor located on the corner of Duong Le Duan and Hai Muoi Hai Thang Tam. They were fresh, fluffy and super tasty! Not to mention a steal at VND20,000 (~USD0.85) for two of them.

Where to find coffee in Cam Ranh

Trying to order a hot coffee

No visit is complete without trying a local coffee and there were plenty of options to choose from in Cam Ranh.

Our first visit was to this tiny hole in the wall next to the hotel. There was no English available so we tried our hand at ordering a drink in our limited Vietnamese.

We ended up with another iced coffee. It wasn’t bad, except for the fact that it was absolutely pouring down with rain and cold as anything. At a cost of VND24,000 (~USD1.00) for both coffees, we weren’t complaining and they were good too, for a cheap coffee.

Cam Ranh

Cafe Phin Cam Ranh

The next morning, we went for a wander and found a huge café around the corner and right on the highway. Not sure of the name as we didn’t get a menu or a receipt and there were several names up on the building itself.

This time round we managed to order a hot coffee with milk and when it arrived, we had a good giggle about it. Because in front of us were two glass cups, sitting a tiny tin bucket of hot water and a phin on top of each.

We’ve never seen coffee this way before and it was funny. Ingenious but funny. That round set us back VND30,000 (~USD1.30) and again a cheap, good local coffee!

Cam Ranh

Trying our first milk tea

We did try something new this time round and that was the infamous milk tea that we see everywhere.

It took us a long time to get use to cold coffee and we definitely couldn’t see the appeal in cold tea. Tra Sua SIP is this hip little spot on Nguyen Thai Hoc and they were hopping!

We got there just as they opened and it didn’t take long for people to start piling in. Before we knew it, motorcycles were adding to the madness, queuing up for take away orders.

The teas were amazingly yummy too and looked very pretty. Not how I ever thought I’d describe a beverage, but there you have it.

They only cost VND32,000 (~USD1.40), which makes them a great and cheap alternative to coffee and we can see why they are popular.

Cam Ranh

We are now on the lookout for more of these milk tea shops.  If you want to see what we find, then keep an eye on our #snackingourchops hashtag on Insta for more updates.

Bai Dai Beach

Apart from the fact that Cam Ranh was within our 200km/day travel distance, it was also home to Bai Dai beach. You don’t hear much about this beach as it’s more famous cousin Nha Trang is a short distance away and usually in the lime light.

On day two we decided to go for a tiki-tour to check it out and see if we could actually get to the beach. (See our travel day blog for more on this.)

See, when we rode past it on our way into Cam Ranh, we couldn’t see this famous landmark at all. All we could see were the scores of gigantic hotels and resorts in different stages of construction. Every site hidden behind tall barriers. At that point we thought we’d never see the beach which was a little sad.

Cam Ranh

Found the beach!

We did find a way to it in the end and it was an amazingly beautiful beach! It was as beautiful as all the fuss we’d read about.

Pristine powdery white sand with the clearest blue water we’ve seen in a while. We didn’t think to take our togs before we went out there. A swim would have been amazing!

Sadly, it is slowly being overtaken by large resort companies and we fear it may disappear in a sea of resorts soon. It’s still worth a look if you’re out that way. If you do, go for a swim and let us know if it is as amazing as it looked!

Cam Ranh

The unusual memorial

One of our other finds was this huge memorial located at the northern end of the beach. We’re not sure what it commemorated as there was no English available and no one to ask.

We believe it may be a memorial to fallen soldiers but not sure from which war or what year.  It would have been nice to tell you more about it.

The grounds and statues were beautifully done and it was a very peaceful spot to visit.

Cam Ranh

Overall impression of Cam Ranh

For a small town it does offer a lot on a short visit!

Besides the endless options to eat and have a coffee at, there are also two full sized supermarkets.

Finding someone to help us out with Xorf’s flat rear wheel was a little harder. The kind man we did find in the end, was super efficient, honest and did a great job of getting us back on the road.

Cam Ranh

How much did it cost?

Below is a simple breakdown of costs for our two day visit.

Expenses VND USD (approx.)
Accommodation (2 nights) 400,000 17.15
Food and groceries 168,600 7.20
Beverage (non-alcoholic) 86,000 3.70
Motorbikes  fuel and repairs 325,000 13.90
Total 979,600 41.95

What’s next

We’re heading to Phan Rang next! We will spend a few days to explore a famous ancient Cham village and try some local legendary food spots. Make sure to tune in for more on that visit.

And don’t forget to hit the road with us on travel days. We cover those in our LTXtraordinary page as well as our vlogs.

Thank you so much for experiencing this adventure with us!

See you in the next one…