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  • Thien Duong Cave in Phong Nha
  • Phong Nha Ke Bang in Quang Binh
  • Thien Duong Cave in Phong Nha

PHONG NHA KE BANG

 

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2003, the remarkable Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park is indeed worth for that honorable reputation. With the oldest karst mountains in Asia of approximately 400 million years, riddled with hundreds of cave systems – many of extraordinary scales and lengths and spectacular underground rivers, Phong Nha is a speleologists’ heaven on earth. A wide range of stunning dry caves, terraced caves, towering stalagmites and glistening crystal-edged stalactites represents nature on a very grand scale indeed, and is beginning to create a real buzz in Vietnam, as more and more riches are discovered. Serious explorations led by the British Cave Research Association and Hanoi University only began in the 1990s. Cavers first penetrated deep into Phong Nha Cave, one of the world’s longest systems. In 2005, Paradise Cave was discovered, and in 2009 a team found the world’s largest cave – Son Dong. Above the ground, most of the mountainous 885 sq km of Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park is near-pristine tropical evergreen jungle, more than 90% of which is primary forest. It borders the bio-diverse Hin Namno reserve in Laos to form an impressive, continuous slab of protected habitats. More than 100 types of mammals (including 10 species of primate, tigers, elephants, and the saola - a rare Asian antelope), 81 types of reptile and amphibian, and more than 300 varieties of bird have been logged in Phong Nha. Until recently, access to the National Park was very limited and strictly controlled by the Vietnamese military. Some sections remain off-limits, but things are gradually opening up and it’s now possible to visit the astounding Paradise Cave, turquoise river, eco-trail of Nuoc Mooc and a war shrine known as Eight Lady cave, and hike up to the mouth of (but not enter) Hang Son Doong. More hiking trails and other sights will open in the future.
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