A heady mix of beaches, historical sites and a rich cultural landscape has tempted investors to set up stunning resorts, which in turn are luring more well-heeled tourists from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and beyond.
Quang Binh province boasts an incredibly diverse and appealing mix of natural attractions with some of world’s most beautiful and magnificent caves and stunning beaches. While it has been blessed by Mother Nature with forests, seas, rivers and a stunning coastline, its history has been less kind.
But, this battle-hardened province and long impoverished land is making the most of its natural assets and reemerging as one of Vietnam’s most talked about tourism destinations.
The caves in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park are one of the biggest attractions and have been a world natural heritage site since 2003. The remarkable karsts formation process has produced some of the world’s longest and largest caves, as well as underground river systems.
There are 65 kilometres of underground rivers, dry caves, terraced caves, suspended caves, dendritic caves and intersecting caves filled with abundant stalactites and stalagmites. Day trippers can discover this site from Hue city, and holiday makers can stay at the Sun Spa and Resort.
To highlight “cave discovery” tourism this year, Quang Binh province introduced two new routes to explore the Rao Thuong River, Hang En and Phong Nha. Compared to the citadel of Hue, the ancient town of Hoi An and My Son Sanctuary, Phong Nha has remained largely off the beaten track, at least for international tourists.
The limestone karts formations will be familiar to most visitors coming to Vietnam’s most highly prized heritage site, Halong Bay. The main difference lies in the vast scale of the cave. The whole complex is some 65 kilometres long, stretching towards the Lao border.
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, previously considered the biggest cave in Vietnam.
The biggest chamber of Son Doong is over five kilometres long, 200 meters high and 150 meters wide. With these dimensions, Son Doong overtakes Deer Cave in Malaysia to take the title of the world’s largest cave. There is also a jungle inside the cave due to a roof collapse long ago which let in light, which was quickly followed by plants.
Going underground, you will find Hang En, a cave tunneled out by the Rao Thuong River.The river can rise almost 90 metres during the flood season, then dwindling to a series of ponds during the dry months when rare cave pearls fill dried-out terrace pools near Hang Son Doong.
This unusually large collection of stone spheres were formed drip-by-drip over the centuries as calcite crystals left behind by water layered themselves around grains of sand, enlarging over time. The results are both magical and mysterious. A work of art courtesy of Mother Nature which has made Vietnam naturally blessed.