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Hiking in Phong Nha

An excursion to the botanical garden

Phong Nha – Kẻ Bàng is one of the nature reserves in Vietnam. It is about 2.000 km² large and accommodates altogether over 300 caves. It is not without reason that this is the destination for nature lovers, hiking experts and adventure hungry people who are looking for the thrill of exploring the caves.

For quite some time, more precisely since my first weeks in Vietnam, I wanted to see this nature reserve and I put it on my Vietnam Bucket List. But the area around Phong Nha is huge and my time here is limited. So where do you start? My answer is: A good preparation before starting the trip saves headaches and wild googling at the destination.

During my research, the botanical garden attracted my full attention. For a good reason, I would say, since the place is perfect for hiking. Here you will find over 40 hectares of land and also over 500 plant species. And above all, you will find one of the rarest gifts of our time. Silence. But more about that later.

What hiking routes are there?

The Botanical Garden offers two tours.

The short tour should take about 1.5 hours and costs 40.000 VND (1,54€). This route is suitable if you have not brought much time with you, if you are travelling with family and children or if you are not in your best shape 😉

At the starting point there is also a shortcut that leads directly to the waterfall. You should plan 30 minutes for this trail. It can be taken as a quickie, so to speak.

The long tour should take about 3 hours and costs 80.000 VND (3,08€). I finally decided for this option and spent a good 4 hours for the whole way.

How was the tour?

I can’t remember exactly how many kilometres I hiked that day, but I made a note: next time take a lot of water with you. 😅 The heat and humidity should not be underestimated and gave me a feeling of being in a jungle. Even though I have never visited a rainforest before, I imagine it exactly the same.

Once you are immersed in nature, the exertions quickly turn into old news. Everything around you is green, the air is clean and smells fresh, and colourful butterflies fly around everywhere. Apparently there are so few tourists around here that the paths are overgrown. But the natural barriers could be playful overcome.

Beautiful butterfly sitting on a green leave
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen so many butterflies

During the whole hike I hardly met any people, although there were quite a few like-minded people at the starting point. Did most of them choose the short route? 🤔

It suits me fine. Where hardly any people are to be found and hardly any conversations are held, such a quiet atmosphere is created that my ears and thoughts can concentrate on completely different things in the forest. Suddenly numerous insects become audible, talking to each other or singing songs to each other. Suddenly you can hear the wind trying to find its way through the forest, animating thousands of leaves to sway. This is the silence that I have sorely missed on my travels through Vietnam.

What was the highlight?

The real highlight at the end of both paths is a beautiful waterfall. Here they all meet again, no matter if young or old. Some of them stay only a short time or cool down and go for a swim. Others go straight for a picnic and spend time together in a shady place.

Hiking in Phong Nha and enjoying the view
Only from here did I realize how huge Phong Nha is.

But my personal highlight was a viewpoint that I discovered. Here I could overlook the whole national park. Or let’s rather say a fraction of it. 😇

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