Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng is a National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Quảng Bình Province, in the north of the Central Coast region of Vietnam. The park is 50 km north of Dong Hoi, around 450 km south of Hanoi.
The core zone of this national park covers 857.54 km² and a buffer zone of 1,954 km². The park was created to protect one of the world’s two largest karst regions with 300 caves and grottoes and also protects the ecosystem of limestone forest of the Annamite Range region in north central coast of Vietnam.
The plateau on which the park is perched is probably one of the finest and most distinctive examples of a complex karst landform in Southeast Asia. This national park was listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 2003. In April 2009, the world’s largest cave, Son Doong Cave, was discovered by a team of British cave explorers of British Caving Association. Tourist activities in this park includes expedition of caves and grottoes in boats, eco-tourism, discovering the flora and fauna in this park and mountain climbing, trekking.
Phong Nha town is on the edge of the park just off the main highway, and has undergone some growth since the caves were discovered. Most accommodation, restaurants and travel providers are in the town, although there are some good places in the surrounding villages – where the tradeoff is the peace and quiet!
Like North Central Coast Region (Bắc Trung Bộ) in general, and Quảng Bình province in particular, the climate in Phong Nha–Kẻ Bàng national park is tropically hot and humid. The annual mean temperature is 23-25°C, with a maximum of 41°C in the summer and a minimum of 6°C in the winter. The hottest months in this region are from June to August, with an average temperature of 28°C, and the coldest months from December to February with an average temperature of 18°C. Annual rainfall is 2,000-2,500 mm, and 88% of the rainfall is from July to December. With more than 160 rainy days per year, no month is without rain. Mean annual relative humidity is 84%.
Several arrivals and departures at Dong Hoi daily from as far away as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, only a few hours from Hue.
A local bus goes from Dong Hoi to Phong Nha for less than 40,000 dong. It departs hourly from many bus stops around Dong Hoi. Look for the blue signs that say Dong Hoi – Hoan Lao – Phong Nha or Dong Hoi – Phong Nha – Trooc
Sleeper buses with Hung Thanh Travel, Camel Travel and Queen Cafe make stops in Phong Nha with an overnight journey between Phong Nha and Hanoi and an early morning departure to Hue and evening arrival from Hue.
The DMZ bus operates a door to door service between Phong Nha and Hue. Departs Phong Nha at 06:30 for 500,000 dong and stops at Vinh Moc tunnels and Ben Hai River Museum on the way. Hue to Phong Nha departs early afternoon from Hue with no stops and costs 150,000 dong (from DMZ bar Hue)