Visiting Paradise Cave Without a Tour
When cave explorers first explored this cave they were so mesmerised by the scale and stunning stalagmites and stalactites, that they decided Paradise Cave was the perfect name for it. Stretching 31km deep into the limestone karst, Paradise Cave is the longest dry cave in Asia. At some points, the cave hits heights over 70m and stretches as wide as 150m. The scale is just indescribable. It certainly lives up to its name. Luckily you don’t need to go on an organised tour to see Paradise cave leaving you to explore it at your own pace. Here is how to visit Paradise cave without a tour.
What is Paradise Cave?
Paradise Cave is one of the many vast caves that are hidden within the limestone karsts of Phong Nha, in north-central Vietnam. The area surrounding Phong Nha town is protected by a national park (Phong Nha-Ke Bang) which is home to not only Paradise Cave, but also the worlds largest and third-largest caves, Son Doong and Hang En. Paradise Cave doesn’t quite cut it as one of the largest caves in the world, which is insane to think about because it’s 31km long. I can’t even begin to imagine the scale of the larger caves.
It’s even more astounding is that Paradise Cave, this huge cathedral-like cavern, was only discovered in 2005. 2005 folks. That’s less than 20 years ago!? It’s incredible that this site of natural beauty remained hidden for so long and I can’t help but hope there are more gems like this still hidden out there.
How to Visit Paradise Cave
To see Paradise Cave you need to base yourself in Phong Nha, a small town on the edge of the Phong Nha National Park about 40 km northwest of Dong Hoi city. Check out my complete Phong Nha travel guide for how to get here, where to stay and what else to do in Phong Nha.
From there you have two options for visiting Paradise Cave:
1️⃣ Take an organised tour via Phong Nha Farmstay (great if you’re uncomfortable getting on a motorbike and want to explore beyond the boardwalk)
2️⃣ Rent a motorbike and drive yourself through the national park (or rent a driver)
Where to rent a motorbike
I’ve always rented motorbikes via Linh’s Homestay* (the staff are amazing and rentals are only 100k a day), but most accommodation* should be able to help you out with a rental. If you cannot rent through your accommodation, I recommend trying Thang’s Phong Nha Riders (they offer easy rider tours to Paradise Cave for 300k which is perfect for anyone who doesn’t know how to drive themself. Alternatively, you could cycle to Paradise Cave and there are places along the main street in Phong Nha that offer bicycle rental (50-70k a day).
How to get to Paradise Cave from Phong Nha
There are two routes you can drive from Phong Nha town get to Paradise Cave (labelled on the map below). The fast route takes around 35 mins on a motorbike, with dramatic karsts lining the roads. This road is mostly flat so if you plan to ride a bicycle to Paradise Cave, this is the best route to take.
The longer route takes about 45 minutes through the national park, with lots of hills and stunning valley views. If you are inexperienced driving a motorbike or planning to cycle then I would not recommend this route due to the steep hills.
Before you leave Phong Nha, make sure you have gas. Along the main street in town are small pumps to fill up the tank though these are a little overpriced at 25k per litre (~$1). There is an official gas station near the main highway where you can get gas cheaper.
Exploring Paradise Cave
We organised our motorbike rental the night before allowing us to leave early (around 7am) taking the long loop through the national park. The views were amazing and really excited us for our first morning in Phong Nha. Leaving early meant we arrived just as the site was opening at 8am, so we were some of the first visitors to Paradise Cave that day and able to explore it with peace and quiet.
Paradise Cave is actually 200m above sea level, with the entrance set high into the side of the mountain with a set of 500 steps to take you up. To get to the entrance you can either walk about 1km to the start of the steps, or you can pay 25k each way for an electric bus to take you to the stairs. Regardless of walking or talking the bus, the steps up to the entrance are unavoidable so unfortunately Paradise cave is not accessible for those with disabilities.
From the entrance, you descend into Paradise. That first glimpse into the dark of the cave is really something. The boardwalk takes you 1km into the cave, with lights illuminating the rock formations and sheer scale of the cave. It’s really a wonder to see. We spent 1.5hr in total exploring, including the walk up to the cave and the boardwalk. By 9:30am bus tours were arriving and the busy atmosphere took away a little from the caves natural beauty.
The site is protected by UNESCO and seems to be 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 reusable (collected upon entry avoiding tickets being discarded along the trail). The bathrooms were well maintained and inside the cave, there were no tacky lights or statues (which seems to be the done thing at other caves and waterfalls in Vietnam).
⏰ Open from 7:30am – 4:30pm / 1.5hr including the short hike
💰 tickets 250k adult / 125k children ($10 / $5)
🛵 rent for 100k+ (~$5) / 🚲 rent for 50-70k (~$2.50)
Paradise Cave📍Km 16 đường Hồ Chí Minh Nhánh Tây., Sơn Trạch, Bố Trạch, Quảng Bình
Planning a trip to Phong Nha
Phong Nha is easily one of the most beautiful destinations in Vietnam, yet many visitors to Vietnam haven’t heard of it. Make sure to add it to your itinerary and prepare to be wowed by all the stunning mountains and caves!
✍ For details on how to get to Phong Nha, what to eat there and where to sleep, as well as a budget, check out my Phong Nha guide.
Thank you. I am going tomorrow, some useful tips. 🙂