Inside Paradise Cave in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, Vietnam

Paradise Cave is the largest dry cave in Asia and is known as one of the most beautiful caves in the world.   It’s truly an unbelievable site that will have you wandering around with your jaw on the ground and your eyeballs bulging.

Being inside the cave feels as if you’ve just landed on the moon and you can’t help but marvel at its vastness and the sheer power of nature.

There are stalactites and stalagmites as far as the eye can see with many formations that will have your creative mind spinning.

There are countless caves within Phong Nha Ke Bang National park and the surrounding areas and it can be overwhelming trying to decide which ones to visit.

In this guide, I will tell you why Paradise Cave is the best cave to visit if you’re short on time or on a tight budget as I always am.   I will also help you figure out how to get there, how much time you’ll need, tours you can take and everything in between.  Check out my short video below that I shot from my Go Pro Hero Session 4.

 

Paradise Cave is located in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in the north central region of Vietnam near the Laos border.

The cave is approximately 8.6 miles from Son Trach, also known as, Phong Nha Town.   If you’re planning to stay a night or two in Phong Nha (I highly suggest you do) then this is most likely where you will stay.  The majority of the accommodations in this area are here.

If you’re only coming to visit the caves for one day then you will most likely be coming from Dong Hoi.   It is the nearest city and there is a train station, as well as a major bus station.  From Dong Hoi you will need to either rent a motorbike and DIY or join a tour group leaving from there.

There are also day tours from Hue that leave from and return to Hue city.  If you’re in Hue and are interested in this option then check with your hostel/ hotel or any travel agency in town for info.

For this guide, I’m going to assume you’re leaving from Son Trach, Phong Nha Town.

 

Stalactites and Stalagmites in Paradise Cave in Phong Nha, Vietnam

RENT A MOTORBIKE

This is always my favorite option for transportation, especially in Vietnam.   It’s cheap and I love to be on my own time frame and not constricted by tour group schedules.

I simply love the freedom and the feel of the wind in my hair!

Price to rent a motorbike– $5 USD for 24 hours.  I used this to my complete advantage and made sure to utilize the rest of my 24 hours wisely to see some of the National Park as well.

Gas for the motorbike– Less than $2 USD for a full tank

Most accommodations will have bikes for rent.  I rented mine from Linh’s Homestay where I stayed.  If your accommodation doesn’t have any for rent then head to Linh’s and they will help you out.

They are the sweetest family and will do anything to accommodate you.  I also highly suggest staying at Linh’s if you plan to stay a few nights in Phong Nha.  It’s a very clean homestay with ensuite bathrooms, curtains on the bunks for privacy and includes breakfast in the AM.  They also offer private rooms if interested.

The roads in Phong Nha are well paved and are never busy.  The only people you will pass are other travelers or tour buses.

Getting to Paradise Cave is really easy.  Grab a map from your hostel/ hotel which will have a general picture of the National Park.

I used google maps and had no trouble finding my way.

You can also download maps.me (offline maps) and the map for that area before you leave wifi.

 

HIRE A TAXI

This is the most expensive option but if you’re traveling in a group then this wouldn’t be a bad idea.  The driver will pick you up from wherever, drop you off at the cave, wait for you while you explore and then return you to town when you’re ready.

You can arrange a taxi from any accommodation.  Prices may vary.  Make sure you agree on a price and what you expect before you leave.

Price to hire a taxi– I couldn’t actually find any concrete info on this, but it looks like it would cost roughly $50 USD.  Not at all sure about this price though.

JOIN A PARADISE CAVE TOUR

There are a few different tour groups you can join to see Paradise Cave.  If you’re coming from Dong Hoi and want to get on with a tour group from there, then I would suggest checking out Phong Nha Caves Tour Center.  They have tons of info online about pick up from Dong Hoi.

You can set up a tour from any of the accommodations in Phong Nha Town.  However, another option is to head to Easy Tiger Hostel.  They have a plethora of info about tours and other activities in the area.

While you’re there grab a cold beer and you’ll instantly make friends at this very social party hostel.  Chances are your new friends will be on the same tour with you!

Easy Tiger is also associated with Phong Nha Farmstay which is a bit farther out of town but they are very helpful with any questions you may have and will be more than willing to help find you a tour group to join.

Stalactites and Stalagmites in Paradise Cave in Phong Nha, Vietnam

PARADISE CAVE 4 MILE ADVENTURE

This is the ultimate Paradise Cave tour.  It leaves at 8 am every day.  Exception: during the rainy season (Oct and Nov) when the water levels are too high.

This is a fairly moderate trek that will lead you through the main tourist boardwalk and then even farther into the cave.

For safety reasons, no kids under the age of 10 can do this tour.  To join you must be able to climb stairs, swim and be able to walk on rocky boulders and uneven ground.

You will get to swim in the underground river and will be served a bagged lunch inside the cave.  They ask that you wear long pants, trekking shoes and have your bathing suit on under your clothes.  No changing rooms in the cave folks! 

Also, bring a small towel or sarong to dry off.

The tour includes– pick up and drop off from your accommodation in Phong Nha, transportation to the cave, entrance fee to the cave, English speaking guide, as well as, lunch and bottled water.

Price for the ultimate Paradise Cave tour– $115 USD

For info and to book check out Phong Nha Discovery.

PHONG NHA AND PARADISE CAVE TOUR

This is a 2 cave tour.  You will visit Phong Nha Cave first and then Paradise Cave second.  They pick up at 9 am and you’re back by 4:30 pm.  Lunch is served at a local restaurant after the first cave, then you’ll visit Paradise Cave after lunch.

The tour includes– pick up and drop off at your accommodation in Phong Nha, transport to the caves, boat ride at Phong Nha Cave, lunch, all entrance fees to caves and an English speaking guide.

Price for 2 cave tour– $50 USD

For info and to book online check out Phong Nha Explorer.

 

DARK CAVE AND PARADISE CAVE TOUR

This is also a 2 cave tour.  You will visit Paradise Cave first and then the Dark Cave second.  They pick up at 9 am and you’re back by 4:30 pm.  Lunch is served at the restaurant located at the Dark Cave.

The Dark Cave is an adventure cave where you get to zipline, float in a mud bath, kayak and swim.

The tour includes– pick up and drop off at your accommodation in Phong Nha, transport to caves, insurance, lunch, all entrance fees, and an English speaking guide.

Price for this 2 cave tour– $60 USD

For info and to book online check out VM Travel.

 

Inside Paradise Cave in Phong Nha, Vietnam

PARADISE CAVE WITHOUT A TOUR

As you can see now, doing cave tours in Phong Nha can be very pricey.   You all know that I budget for $30 USD per day, so doing all the caves was definitely out of my budget.

I decided to only visit Paradise Cave and to go it alone by renting a motorbike to keep the cost down.  I’m so happy with my decision because I was able to spend as much time as I wanted inside and I like to take my time so I can get ample photos and videos.  

I went early in the morning to beat the crowds of tour groups, which can be quite noisy and clog up your photos.  The tour group guides also use megaphones to communicate with their peeps and I find this obnoxious and it ruins the whole experience for me.

The motorbike ride out to the cave was absolutely gorgeous.  I loved having the freedom to stop along the way to take photos of the rice fields, karst mountains, and lush forest.  

 

VISITING PARADISE CAVE IN PHONG NHA

Paradise Cave is a 19-mile long cave system, however, you can only visit less than a mile of it unless you go on the Ultimate cave tour with a guide that I listed above.

When you first arrive, you park in a large parking area that has several shops with food, snacks, water, and souvenirs.  If you don’t have water with you then this is one of the last spots to get some.

Right after the parking lot you will see the ticket booth on the left.  From the ticket booth you can either pay for a ride in a golf cart to the foot of the cave or you can walk.

I, of course, chose to walk it.  It’s about a 20-minute walk and the paved path winds through the jungle.  Unless you are unable to walk, I would highly suggest taking the path because it’s incredibly beautiful and serene.

While I was there I was blown away by how many butterflies there were.  This greatly excited me and was one of my favorite parts of this adventure.

Entrance to Paradise Cave in Phong Nha, Vietnam

CLIMBING TO THE CAVE ENTRANCE

Unfortunately, you read that right.  It’s a bit of an arduous climb up the stairs to reach the cave.  I promise it’s totally worth it though.

You have 2 options for climbing.  You can take a staircase with 512 stairs straight up or you can take the path that winds up the hillside.

Neither of them is easy, especially in the heat.  That’s why it’s best to visit in the AM before it gets unbearably hot.

I took the stairs on the way up and then took the path on the way back down.  The stairs took just as long as the path for me because I had to stop so many times on the stairs to catch my breath. 

I know, how embarrassing.

At the top of the stairs is a little cafe that serves local Vietnamese food that you can stop and have lunch before or after you visit the cave.  Be warned the prices are a bit high here, so best to eat before hand. 

This is also your last chance to use a toilet FYI.

 

ENTERING PARADISE CAVE

I was completely drenched with sweat when I reached the entrance to Paradise Cave.   As I started to descend down the 276 steps into the heart of the cave I was shocked at how cool it was.

I’m ashamed to admit that at this point I was wondering if they had installed AC units and how bad that would be for the cave.  Obviously, I’m an idiot, that wasn’t at all the case.  It was just a very welcome cool temperature, especially in comparison to the outside heat.

I actually began to shiver a bit as my body adjusted because I was soaked in sweat.

When I got to the bottom of the stairs and on the wooden boardwalk that leads through the cave, I was completely awestruck by the beauty.  It has a cathedral feel about it because of the high ceilings.  The cave has been called an “underground palace” by many and it definitely lives up to that description.

It’s ginormous so no need to worry about being claustrophobic.  I don’t typically struggle from claustrophobia but sometimes I have a hard time breathing in cramped places with a lot of people, so I feel weary of caves.  However, no need to worry here. 

This is the largest cave I have ever been in.  It is MASSIVE!

 

 

WHAT ARE STALACTITES AND STALAGMITES?

There are amazing stalactites which hang from the roof of the cave like icicles.  They are formed from calcium salts deposited by dripping water.  Stalagmites rise from the ground and are also formed by calcium salts from dripping water and are often uniting with a stalactite.

The stalactites and stalagmites form all kinds of interesting shapes and formations that are extremely fascinating to see.   They sparkle, glisten and have several different color attributes.    Defintiely the most unique formations I have ever seen in a cave.

There are lights throughout the entire area that you’re able to tour along the boardwalk.  They have done a really good job at using natural lighting to make it recognizable in its truest form.

I did read a report of a power cut happening in the cave, which I thought would be highly entertaining and really up the adventure status here.   However, sadly there were no power cuts while I visited!

Inside Paradise Cave in Phong Nha, Vietnam

PARADISE CAVE ENTRANCE FEE AND HOURS

Paradise Cave is open 7 days a week.  I couldn’t find info on which public holidays they are closed on, but I’m sure that they are.  So be mindful of that.

I spent almost 2.5 hours in total between hiking up and down to the cave and time spent inside.  I definitely took my time though.

Hours of Operation– 6 am – 6 pm Daily

Price for Cave Entrance– $10 USD

Price for Parking– $.25 cents USD

A ride from the parking lot to the foot of the cave– $1USD (roundtrip)

I had the most amazing time visiting the Paradise Cave and I don’t even have FOMO for not seeing the other caves in the area.   This cave was far more than my expectations and was enough to sate my cave desires! 

Seeing as this was the only one that I visited, unfortunately, I don’t have much personal info on the other caves. 

If you’re interested in knowing more about a few of the others then check out Top 5 caves of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, Vietnam written by a fellow blogger named Nam who I love to follow.   

I hope that you get the opportunity to visit Paradise Cave and I truly hope this guide has helped to answer all your questions.  If I missed anything, please feel free to comment below or message me.

If you have been to Phong Nha and have visited some of the other caves, which one did you enjoy the most?   I would love to hear some first-hand comparisons! 

With Love,

Julie

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