What are your favourite ‘secret' spots in Phong Nha?
Chao Vietnam restaurant is a place where you’ll always be warmly welcomed and served amazing, authentic Vietnamese food. Especially in the evenings, this restaurant sparkles outstandingly in the dark.
When is the best time to visit Phong Nha?
I would say in the spring, from January to March. The nature is fresh and lively, especially for those who love photography. In the summer from April to July, Phong Nha is a great option for outdoor activities such as swimming in the natural streams and waterfalls, ziplining, and kayaking. Don’t forget Phong Nha is famous for hundreds of caves and you can always visit caves any time in the year.
Is there a festival or special event that travellers should not miss?
Don’t miss the Cave Festival in Phong Nha that happens yearly. The locals are proud of this cave land so much and we hope the Cave Festival can attract more visitors to come and explore.
What is your favourite coffee shop in Phong Nha and what do you like about it?
It would be Phong Nha Coffee Station. It’s not an old coffee shop here but the way the owner has made it harmonise with the village is admirable. Sometimes, I spend hours working on my laptop here and enjoy either the traditional Vietnamese coffee or a latte.
What are the people like here?
People in Phong Nha are real and friendly. They are honest and always willing to help you when you are in need. Life in Phong Nha is quite simple but it’s great to make friends with the locals and enjoy the humble lifestyle here.
What makes Phong Nha different from other places in Vietnam?
Phong Nha stands out with more than 300 caves, some of which are internationally famous. The caves and jungle create a unique landscape and terrain that you can rarely find in other places in the world.
If you had to describe Phong Nha in three adjectives, what would they be and why?
Untouched, gorgeous, and adventurous.
Phong Nha’s jungles and caves are untouched and well protected by UNESCO. Tours here are also eco-friendly and sustainable. The Son River, the mountains, the jungle and especially the caves are what I am proud of. You can always choose to camp next to a stream and enjoy a lovely time under the starry night. It’s wild but worth every moment.
Where do you recommend travellers go to experience nature here?
For nature, I would recommend you go to Bong Lai Valley. This is a fantastic rural valley interspersed with farms and small villages, perfect for a relaxing day or half day out in the countryside. Places to visit include the Pub With Cold beer, Duck Stop, Moi Moi Restaurant, Pepperhouse homestay, Bong Lai Swing Nature Farm, and Bong Lai Rattan House. The Bong Lai Valley is best seen on a bicycle or motorbike.
Another destination that young people like me love to reach is Mooc Spring. The water here has a fresh jade color that blows your mind. If you are more of an adventurous type, feel free to visit the Mooc Spring. You can always go kayaking and swimming here.
If travellers want to learn more about Phong Nha’s history, where should they go?
I suggest you approach those talented tour guides who have spent their lifetime working in Phong Nha. Shi Jang (also his Facebook name) has a brilliant bicycle tour. Additionally, a casual chat with Mr. Howard Limbert — a cave expert who has spent more than 20 years exploring caves in Phong Nha — can help satisfy your curiosity.
What is a lesser-known dish that you wish more people knew about?
Trust me, you must try the BBQ chicken and duck with cheo sauce in Phong Nha. It’s unique and the best dish here that I hope more travellers know about.
Where do you take family or friends when they come to Phong Nha?
I would love to bring my family and friends to all the nice places in Phong Nha, but if time is limited, I would say the Botanical Garden, Paradise Cave, Dark Cave, Mooc Spring and one small trekking tour with Oxalis Adventure. Phong Nha has a hidden beauty that I hope all travellers will explore and cherish as I do.