Paradise Cave: Heaven Found Below the Earth

Paradise Cave (Vietnamese spelling: động Thiên Đường) is the longest and one of the most spectacular cave systems in the world. Around 1 km is open to popular tourism and it never fails to leave a lasting impression. 

Paradise Cave is accessible from the small town of Phong Nha, Bố Trạch district, in Quảng Bình province. Quang Binh province sits in north-central Vietnam just north of Hue. The province stretches from the Laos border to the ocean. 

This cave itself is in the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park which is also home to the longest underground river, the largest cave, and the most spectacular underground lake in the world. 

How to Get To Paradise Cave 

Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is about 4 hours by car from Hue city and 6 hours from Danang. If you choose a one day tour, there is enough time to thoroughly enjoy the splendor of Paradise Cave. 

The travel time is quite long, but if you really want to enjoy some fun time out in nature, it’s well worth staying a night or two in Phong Nha. Read further down for all the wonderful things to do in Phong Nha – Ke Bang. 

If you’re staying in or around Phong Nha, you can easily get a taxi to Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park entrance. There are also numerous local tour companies that will take you there. However, you want to have more freedom to move around, a motorbike for the day is the best option. 

Paradise Cave Discovered 

Walkway into Paradise Cave
Walkway into Paradise Cave
[ by Dirk Tussing from Flickr ]

Paradise Cave was discovered in 2005 by a local man. In the same year, five kilometers were officially explored by a team from the British Cave Research Association. Further exploration determined the cave to be an amazing 31 km long, thus stripping Phong Nha Cave of its longest cave status. 

Paradise Cave has since been established as a World UNESCO Heritage Site. The height reaches between 72 and 100 meters in places and the widest section is 150 meters. The beauty of its limestone formations, stalactites, and stalagmites earned it the name động Thiên Đường or Paradise Cave (động meaning cave).

Paradise Cave Essentials 

Once you reach the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park entrance, it’s still another 1.6 kilometers to the cave ticket booth. You can walk along the paved roadway, or you can rent a golf buggy. 

  • Entrance Adult: 250 000 VND 
  • Entrance Children: 125 000 VND
  • Golf Buggy: 15 000 VND
  • Opening Times: 7:00 am to 4:30 pm

Exploring Paradise Cave 

Paradise Cave
[ by Edgardo W. Olivera from Flickr ]

Paradise Cave has been open to the public since 3 September 2010. Once you pass the ticket booth, there are still another 543 steps to the cave entrance. As soon as you enter the cave, you’ll soon cool off as the temperature drops— so make sure you have at least a light jacket.

Inside, you can explore about 1 km along the wooden stairs and platforms. The lighting and design are all quite tasteful and is sure to take your breath away. You need at least an hour or two to enjoy the complete experience. 

If you sign onto a tour with a local guide, then you can go further into the cave for about 7 km. There’s a limit of 15 people and one tour per day. 

All the Wonderful Things To Do in Ke Bang National Park 

Although Paradise Cave is the top attraction in Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, there are other cave systems to be explored here, as well as walks in the botanic gardens, wildlife spotting, relaxing in mountain streams and springs, or even adventure sports.

View all the locations mentioned in this article

Phong Nha Cave

Phong Nha Cave
[ by person-with-No Name from Flickr ]

Phong Nha Cave (động Phong Nha) was known to the early Cham people and the longest underground river in the world, running some 19 km, flows out its mouth as the source of the Son River. Phong Nha cave is famous for its picturesque rock formations and you can explore some 1 500 m out of the total 7 729 meters. It’s only accessible by boat. 

Dark Cave

Dark Cave
[ by Tuan Dinh from Facebook ]

Dark Cave (hang Tối) is a wet caving experience and for those who want some good old dirty fun. You take a zipline across the Chay River (sông Chày) to the entrance. Inside you can explore 6 km of cave wearing a headlamp. There are mud baths to enjoy, fossils to see, and afterwards you can relax and enjoy the riverside. 

Phong Nha Botanic Gardens

These jungle gardens are midway between Dark and Paradise caves. Phong Nha Botanic Gardens (Vườn thực vật Phong Nha) can be a short stopover with nicely laid out paths, or you can go on a 3 km hike to Gio Waterfall (thác Gió) and swim in the small Vang Anh Lake (hồ Vàng Anh).

Mooc Springs near Paradise Cave

Mooc Springs (suối Moọc) are nearby to Paradise Cave and they are a popular place to cool off, take walks, or hang out in the restaurant. There’s a nice eco trail where you can spot things such as gibbons, colorful birds, butterflies; and you can pay a visit to the orchid garden. 

Hang En or Shallow Cave

Hang En or Shallow Cave
[ by undeklinable from Flickr ]

Hang Én, or Shallow Cave, is the third-largest cave system in the world, and unlike Paradise Cave, it has its own ecosystem and river. It’s a day’s hike and you will also camp inside the cave. It’s the perfect choice for the adventure traveler, nature lover, and photographer. There’s a lot of fun packed into just two days of itinerary. 

Hang Va Cave

Hang Va Cave
[ by Oxalis Adventure from Facebook ]

Hang Va Cave is famous for its conical calcite formations. It’s more for the seasoned adventurer or those looking for a challenge. It’s a 10 km trek to the cave which includes staying overnight in the jungle. There’s a fair bit of assisted climbing involved and river caving too. 

Hang Son Doong Cave

Hang Son Doong Cave
[ image Nguyen Tan Tin  by from Flickr ]

Son Doong Cave (hang Sơn Đoòng) is the largest and most incredible cave ever discovered in the world, and it opened up to the public in 2013. It even has its own jungle and cloud forming ecosystem. It’s a two-day-trek to the cave and the caving includes abseiling, climbing, and swimming.  For the time being, tourism is restricted and you have to apply for a permit. Fost most people, the waiting list can be up to two years. As per conservation policies, only one tour company, Oxalis Adventures, is allowed to take tourists to the cave.

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