The discovery of Son Doong in 1990, a cave system unmatched anywhere in the world, put the central province of Quang Binh on the global map as a premier destination.
The surreal beauty inside Son Doong"s gigantic chambers will captivate anyone lucky enough to visit this natural masterpiece.
A rainbow over the mountains in the morning.
But as Son Doong looms so large on the horizon, a question arises. Is this stunning place the only attraction in Quang Binh?
A visitor would do well to expand/ her/his vision to unsung corners of this province to experience it to its fullest.
The province has several other enormous cave systems, postcard-perfect coastal areas, sand dunes that stretch to the horizon, and now, an array of fun aquatic activities.
For both adventurers who want to get the adrenaline flowing and to those who just want to unwind, Quang Binh is a top choice. The distance from frontier area forest to seashore is only about 40km.
Dark, lit wonders
Straight off, it can be said that not everyone can afford a $3,000 tour of the Son Doong Cave or even a far less expensive one to Tu Lan (around VND8 million, or $343), but there are still attractive alternatives in this cave-rich provinces. The Paradise Cave or the Phong Nha Cave are splendorous in their own right.
Paradise Cave is 60km away from Dong Hoi City, and is lesser-known than Phong Nha, but its wider space and less crowded route are advantages to bank on.
Stretching for over 31km, it is only a kilometer of Paradise Cave that is open, with a wooden walkway from which it to observe its beautiful interior. From the entry gate to the cave mouth, visitors can walk on the paved roads with leafy trees on either side. The Paradise Cave never fails to amaze with its stalactites, stalagmites and space that feels colossal.
For the next 7km of Paradise Cave to which access is limited, adventurers can purchase a separate tour and enjoy its “wild, unspoilt” side. This tour needs trekking equipment and cave experts as escorts.
Not far away from Paradise Cave are two great attractions: the Chay River- Dark Cave complex and the Mooc Stream, which tourists have repeatedly praised as heavenly.
These sanctuaries are highly photogenic and instagramable, a place that offers a bumper harvest for photography enthusiasts.
Chay River is a favorite summer vacation spot.
Now, the Chay River and Mooc Stream are also sites for outdoor fun. So it’s wise to bring waterproof cell phone bags. With outdoor swimming enjoying a renaissance in recent years, these sites are bound to attract those looking for a good time outdoors. And no one can say "no" to the zipline… an extraordinary way to experience the gravity-defying thrill of flying over a river.
Emerald waters of the Chay River now host various aquatic sports.
Sand dunes to the sea
From Phong Nha National Park, tourists can hit the road to the east of Quang Binh Province to get a glimpse of the ocean. Bai Da Nhay (a range of coastal rock formations) is an attention-grabbing attraction to the north of Dong Hoi. The view is a dramatic, and if you can get to the top of a cliff, a vast collection of rock formations is a sight to behold.
Bai Da Nhay - a rock field on the beach.
What’s a tour itinerary without a glorious sunset? For a laid-back afternoon, spending a few hours walking or sliding over the sand dune is another activity for travelers to enjoy. The Quang Phu sand dune is 7-8km from the city center. This yellow-colored sand dune overlooks the sea, making for an amazing sunset or sunrise combination.
Quang Phu sand dune in the afternoon.