Quang Binh Province boasts an incredibly diverse mix of natural attractions with stunning, deeply forested karst scenery, some of the most beautiful and magnificent caves and simply stunning, deserted beaches. Many are now turning their attention to this region, as it has become Vietnam’s most talked about emerging destination. History has been less kind to the people of the province – long impoverished and battle-hardened.
The numerous cave systems at Phong Nha date back at least 20 million years and are now a UNESCO world heritage site. The translation of Phong Nha is ‘winds fangs’, an allusion to the dramatic stalagmites found in the underground grottos and river systems. It’s the sheer scale of the system which overwhelms – the whole complex is some 40 miles long, stretching towards the Lao border. The main cavern takes you the first 5 miles, but explorers have thus far penetrated a further 22 miles in to the cave system and there are surely mysteries of Phong Nha yet to be revealed. Caverns in the cave were once held sacred by the Cham and several walls still bear inscriptions carved out many centuries ago. Son Doong Cave is near the Laos-Vietnam border and, according to Limbert Deb who discovered it, this cave is five times larger than Phong Nha Cave. Ke Bang Park, in which both the cave systems sit, is spectacular – dense forest, limestone karsts and plunging rivers. Day trippers can just about explore the region from Hue, but its a very long day. Better to spend the night in Dong Ha, the main town on the coast.