Paradise cave. So named because the cave explorers who first explored it were so impressed by the scale and stunning stalagmites and stalactites. And boy does it live up to its name. Stretching an insane 31 km deep into the limestone karst, Paradise Cave is crowned the longest dry cave in Asia. In some points Paradise cave reaches 70+ meters and as wide as 150 m. The scale is just indescribable. It’s one of those, see it to believe it kind of places.
What is even more astounding is to learn that Paradise Cave, this huge cathedral-like space was only discovered in 2005. 2005 folks. That’s only 13 years ago!? It amazes me that such grand site of natural beauty can remain hidden for so long, and I can’t help but hope there are more gems like this still hidden out there.
The site is protected by UNESCO and from everything I’ve seen, it is being taken good care of by Phong Nha tourism. I was impressed that, unlike many other sites of natural beauty in Vietnam, systems were in place to preserve and showcase the beauty of Paradise Cave, rather than exploit it. There were trash cans all the way along the trail, the tickets were plastic and were collected upon entry avoiding tickets being discarded along the trail. They had bathrooms that were well maintained and inside the cave there were no tacky lights or statues (which believe it or not I’ve seen at other sites in Vietnam).
Visiting Paradise Cave without a tour
I love visiting sites by myself without a tour so maybe I’m biased, but you 100% don’t need to be part of a tour to experience Paradise Cave. There is a boardwalk which trails 1km inside the cave making it easy to wander and experience the vast cavern within.
How to get to Paradise Cave, Phong Nha
To explore Paradise Cave you will want to base yourself in the town of Phong Nha, about 40 km northwest of Dong Hoi city (and the nearest airport/train station). The easiest, and best way in my opinion, to get to Paradise Cave is to drive yourself on a motorbike! The roads are decent quality, though they do have some twists and turns so be sure to drive cautiously. We had a few close calls with cars driving round corners really wide and at speed.
Related Post: Learning to Ride a Motorbike in Vietnam
Your accommodation will be able to set you up a with a rental bike if you aren’t already motorbiking through Vietnam, and should cost around 100k VND per day. Browse the accommodation options available in Phong Nha here!*
Along the main street in Phong Nha you’ll see small pumps to fill up the tank. These are a little overpriced at 25k VND per liter ($1.10) but there is an official gas station near the main highway where you can get gas cheaper (it’s pinned it on the map below). The gas station is on the route you need to head to get to Paradise Cave which is great too!
I found my phone signal to be okay driving around, but to be cautious I recommend downloading the Phong Nha area map offline on Google Maps. This will allow you to search for things and get directions even if you are in offline mode.
The drive takes around 35 mins, passing through the most spectacular valleys, with karsts on both sides and villages lining the road. The sites are stunning! Don’t forget to make sure you have some small notes to pay the 5k VND for parking when you get there!
Exploring Paradise Cave
Paradise Cave opens early, at 7:30am and closes at 4:30pm. We got up super early and were at Paradise Cave for just after 8am. This was perfect as we were able to visit Paradise Cave with hardly any other tourists. By the time we were leaving at 9:30am bus loads of visitors had descended making the experience rather unpleasant and ruining the natural beauty a little bit.
The entrance tickets for Paradise Cave are bought on site at the ticket office. Entrance tickets are 250k VND for adults and 125k VND for children.
Once you have your ticket you’ll need to start climbing up! The cave is actually 200 meters above sea level and the entrance is in the side of the hill. From the ticket office you have two options: you can walk little over 1km to where the hill climb (steps and sloping path) start. Or you can take a little electric bus for 25k VND. We opted to walk and found that it wasn’t too challenging to walk this part on top of the hill climb.
And then you descent into Paradise.
Motorbike Rental: 100k from accomodation
Address: Km 16 đường Hồ Chí Minh Nhánh Tây., Sơn Trạch, Bố Trạch, Quảng Bình
Entrance tickets: 250k adult / 125k children
Opening hours: 7:30am – 4:30pm (the earlier the better to beat the crowds)
Time to explore: 2 hours including walking from the car park
Note: Sometimes they close the caves during the peak of rainy season if the water levels inside the cave get too high (during October and November)
Visiting Paradise Cave with a tour
While the boardwalk only allows you to explore the first 1 km of Paradise Cave, you can actually explore a further 7 km beyond the board walk, though this is where you need to be part of a tour. You can book one of these tours via Phong Nha Farmstay or Easy Tiger.
Visiting Paradise Cave was a BIG highlight of my trip to Phong Nha National park! You don’t need a fancy tour to see it – Don’t miss it!
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More coming soon on Phong Nha:
- Phong Nha Wanderlist
- A Travel Guide to Phong Nha
- Hiking the Abandoned Valley with Jungle Boss Vietnam