Cost: 1,350,000 VND/ 60 USD
Is it worth it? 8.5/10
Website: Easy Tiger National Park Tour Info
When going to Phong Nha National Park, you should know that there are a wide variety of caves for you to explore, including the largest cave in the world, called “Hang Son Doong”. However, you can only explore this cave if you have $3000 to spare. That being said, many people opt for a cheaper, yet still exciting option, which is trekking through “Hang Toi” also known as “The Dark Caves”. It is possible to just go to The Dark Caves on your own, but you have to still manage transportation there and back. The caves were about 18 km/11 mi from Easy Tiger Hostel and I know someone who hired someone to take her there and back via motorbike, which cost 300,000 VND ($15 USD). In addition to this, you could always go with your own motorbike (150,000 VND)/scooter (100,000 VND), and pay the parking fee (5,000 VND).
It is possible to just go to The Dark Caves on your own, but you have to still manage transportation there and back.
Since I had a limited amount of time in Phong Nha, I decided to go with National Park Tour with Easy Tiger, which covered Hang Tom Co/8 Lady Cave [insert immature snickering here], Hwy 20 War Martyrs Memorial Temple, Paradise Cave, and The Dark Caves.
Temple visit: If you are not interested in history or small historic sites, don’t even bother. You will not be impressed or feel that it was worth the visit.
Worth it? 0/10
Paradise Cave: Very beautiful and worth a visit. We only were about to see 1km of the cave, but you can pay more to see up to 7km of the cave (2,650,000 VND/ 118 USD). The reason it costs more is because the park is trying to preserve the cave as much as they can and limit the amount of visitors.
Worth it? 7/10
The Dark Caves: AMAZING. I don’t want to say anything else because you just need to go and experience it for yourself. Just make sure you have a swim suit to wear in the cave and also for after when you can go kayaking, swimming and play on a ropes course above the water. It was so much fun.
Worth it? 10/10
Overall, I think if I was confident in my skills in driving a motorbike or scooter, I would have rented a scooter and would have gone on my own to The Dark Caves. Then I would have done the Paradise Cave another day because doing it all in one day was exhausting. I didn’t think that the first part of the tour was worth it, but then again, everyone has their own preferences. So, this is just an experience that makes you question whether going in a group is the best option or maybe there is a better option for you. Personally, this is my opinion, but we’re all different. In conclusion, these are the positive and negative aspects when going in a group:
- Meet new people
- Have transportation taken care for you
- No wasted time
- Costs more money
- There is a set meal plan
- Have to follow structured schedule
Overall, I think if I was confident in my skills in driving a motorbike or scooter, I would have rented a scooter and would have gone on my own to The Dark Caves. Then I would have done the Paradise Cave another day because doing it all in one day was exhausting.