Phong Nha-Ke Bang is a national park in Quang Binh Province in Central Vietnam. It is about 40 kilometers way from the provincial capital of Dong Hoi, 500 kilometers south of Hanoi and 260 kilometers north of Danang. The park borders Hin Namno Natural Reserve in Laos to its east and is 30 kilometers west of the South China Sea. The area holds some of the world’s largest limestone karsts formations and regions as well as the ecosystem of the Annamite Mountain Range. The national park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park covers an area more than 850 square kilometers. It is a haven for researchers and geologists, as out of the 300 caves in the area, not even 50 of them have been surveyed. In April 2009, a group of British explorers conducted an evaluation of the park and its adjacent area. One of the findings during the survey is Son Doong Cave, which is over five kilometers in length, 200 meters high and 150 meters wide. This cave is now the world’s largest, overtaking Deer Cave in Malaysia. The exploration team also discovered 20 new caves totaling 56 kilometers in length during the assessment as well.
Phong Na Cave, from which the name of the park is after is certainly the most beautiful of them all. Because of its formation, various nicknames are given to it such as Lion, Fairy Caves and Buddha. It is over 7,700 meters long with an underground river approximately 14,000 meters long. The deeper one ventures into the cave, the more beautiful and illusionary the stalactites and stalagmites become. Other notable caves in the park include the 980 meter long Thien Son Cave and Thien Duong Cave, known for having the most beautiful stalactites and stalagmites.
Dozens of mountains and peaks over 1,000 meters tall can be found at Phong Nha-Ke Bang and many of which are still relatively unexplored. The two peaks that stand out are Co Preu which stands at 1,213 meters high and Co Rilata at 1,128 meters.
Besides the grottos, cave systems and limestone formations, Phong Nha-Ke is also home to the longest underground river, with the Son and Chay Rivers running through here. There is also a wide range of to flora and fauna at the national park, with over 750 species of plants discovered (of which 36 are endangered) and 381 species of vertebrates.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang is also home to archeological and historical relics and locations. Some of the caves and grottoes contain ancient Cham script which are centuries old. There are also several bases and roads used during the French/Vietnam and American/Vietnam Wars, including parts of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
If you are interested in cave exploration or are looking to uncover some of Vietnam’s exotic wildlife, then Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park should be at the top of your priority list. The combination of endless caves, grottoes, mountains, biodiversity and the area’s historical significance makes the national park one world’s hidden gems. You can contact us if you want to include a trip to the national park to any of our recommended Vietnam tours.
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