HOW TO GET TO PHONG NHA?
Flights connect Dong Hoi with Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. If you book a flight to Dong Hoi, you will still need to arrange a private transfer or taxis from Dong Hoi to Phong Nha.
Trains run from most major coastal cities up and down Vietnam and they can be a fabulous travel experience.. If you are taking an overnight train, try to book a soft-sleeper cabin (4 beds per cabin) or even a hard-sleeper (6 beds per cabin instead of 4) for the most comfortable journey. If you book a train ticket to Dong Hoi, you will still need to arrange a transfer from Dong Hoi to Phong Nha.
Buses are becoming increasingly popular with most companies now stopping directly in Phong Nha (rather than 45 km away in Dong Hoi). If you are heading down from Hanoi you will arrive at around 6:00 AM giving you enough time for breakfast before the start of your trekking adventure (except for Son Doong Cave Expedition, in which you will need to arrive the afternoon prior for your safety briefing). Most buses also depart around 9:00 PM giving you enough time after your tour to relax and enjoy dinner in one of the local restaurants before taking off. Buses connect Phong Nha with Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Hue, Da Nang and Hoi An.
HANOI TO/FROM PHONG NHA
It is relatively easy to reach Phong Nha from Hanoi and vice versa with a number of transport options including train, bus and of course by flight. Most bus companies will now stop directly in Phong Nha, and taking a bus is therefore becoming a popular choice amongst travelers as it saves on the additional transfer required from Dong Hoi (closest train station and airport to Phong Nha).
From Ha Noi, we recommend the Hung Thanh Bus Company and we’d suggest purchasing your ticket at Vietnam Backpacker Hostels (also known as Hanoi Backpackers Hostel), which is easy to find at 9 Ma May or 48 Ngo Huyen in the old quarter, where all the team speaks English. You will need to be at Hanoi Backpackers at 6:00 PM where you will meet the bus and travel a short distance further to the office of the bus company to pick up other guests, before the 7:00 PM departure from Ha Noi to Phong Nha. You can also call to Hung Thanh Bus or book at Hung Thanh Bus office at 162B Tran Quang Khai Str., Tel: 04.39274284 – 04.39274285. Please be advised that it is very difficult to purchase this bus ticket prior to your arrival in Hanoi; the bus tickets are much easier to purchase on arrival in Ha Noi or via a phone call.
The sleeping bus is comfortable, air-conditioned and occasionally has wi-fi if you are lucky. There is a small toilet at the back of the bus and you’ll also make a stop along the way near Ninh Binh, where there are (basic) toilet facilities.
It costs approximately VND 250,000 from Ha Noi to Phong Nha (the price might increase dramatically during Tet holiday, International Labor Day and Vietnamese National Day). The bus stops at the Thanh Phat Hotel (located in the opposite side of the Easy Tiger Hostel) between 4 – 5 AM in the morning.
The Hung Thanh Bus Company also provides a Phong Nha – Ha Noi route, departing at 21:00 (9:00 PM) at the same place, Thanh Phat Hotel, and arriving into Ha Noi at 6:00 AM. You can buy tickets in Phong Nha at Thanh Phat Hotel or Thien Phu Hostel (both located across the street from Easy Tiger Hostel).
Trains are an enjoyable way to travel and see a bit of the countryside. They are especially comfortable if you purchase a ticket in a soft-sleeper cabin. There are only 4 beds in the cabin so there is enough room to sit up if you prefer or to lay down. A hard-sleeper cabin does not provide enough room to sit up because there are 6 beds per room versus 4. Overnight trains are also a good choice because then you can do your travel without missing anything during the day (and you’ve got somewhere to sleep for the night)!
We recommend the following overnight trains from Hanoi to Dong Hoi:
Train No Departs Arrives
SE1 19:30 05:35
SE19 20:10 6:24
SE3 22:00 7:40
Of course, the easiest mode of transport is to take a flight here from Hanoi, it being just a 1 hour and 25 mins flight. However, you have to factor in the time travelling to the airport (1 hour from old quarter). It is best to check the Vietnam Airlines website ahead of time to ensure you can catch a flight on your desired travel dates, otherwise we recommend the train or bus to save your travel days. If you take a flight you will have to book a transfer from Dong Hoi to Phong Nha.
There is one flight daily from Hanoi to Dong Hoi. Flights are as follows:
8:05 AM -> 9:30 AM: VN8591: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday
7:00 AM -> 8:00AM: VN1593: Tuesday, Thurday, Saturday
There is one flight daily from Dong Hoi to Hanoi. Flights are as follows:
10:00 AM -> 11:20 AM: VN8590: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday
8:50 AM -> 9:50AM: VN1592: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
HUE TO/FROM PHONG NHA
Hue is located just a few hours’ drive from the jungle and caving capital of Vietnam. It is a relatively convenient route with trains and buses of offer from a number of companies, as well as it being a short drive by private transfer if you preferred.
If you are traveling from Hue to Phong Nha by bus, you can catch the Hung Thanh Bus at 49 Chu Van An, Hue between 16:30 – 17:00 (4:30 – 5:00 PM). The bus will drop off in Phong Nha around 9:00 – 9:30 PM. The price is 150,000 VND per person. You also have the option of the Tan Nhat Bus, departing from 1A Hung Vuong St (center of Hue City) at 7:00 AM and arriving into Phong Nha about 11:00 AM. The price is 250,000 VND per person. Your third option is the DMZ Bus, departing at 2:00 PM in Hue and stopping by the Vinh Moc Tunnels and Ben Hai River. The price is 500,000 VND and includes transportation fee, entrance fees, and a local guide. Please contact Mr. Shi directly at email@example.com or +84 (0) 96 991 7642 to book.
If you are going from Phong Nha to Hue by bus, we recommend the Hung Thanh Bus Company, which departs between 4:00 – 4:30 AM from Thanh Phat Hotel and arrives in Hue City between 8:00 – 9:00 AM. It costs VND 150,000 per person and bookings can be made at Thanh Phat Hotel. You also have the option of the Tan Nhat Bus, departing from the Phong Nha Tourism Center between 15:00 – 16:00 (3:00 – 4:00 PM) and arriving into Hue at 20:00 (8:00 PM). The price is 250,000 VND per person. Their schedule is unfortunately not always consistent. Your third option is the DMZ Bus, which also stops by the Vinh Moc Tunnels and Ben Hai River; this bus departs at 6:00 AM from Phong Nha. The price is 500,000 VND and includes transportation fee, entrance fees, and a local guide. Please contact Mr. Shi directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or +84 (0) 96 991 7642 to book.
Hue is just a short 3-hour train journey from Dong Hoi and is a popular city to visit before or after one of our caving adventures. However, the connections in the late evening or morning are not great and would have you arriving in Dong Hoi at a bleary-eyed 1:00 AM or 4:30 AM, making it difficult to check in to any hotel.
We would suggest arriving the day before if you intend on taking a train from Hue to ensure you have plenty of rest before your jungle and caving adventure. We would therefore recommend the following trains from Hue to Dong Hoi:
Train No Departs Arrives
SE2 15:31 18:30
SE4 16:47 19:37
SE6 05:39 09:01
If you are travelling from Dong Hoi to Hue directly after your tour then we recommend the following option if you don’t mind arriving in Hue a bit later in the evening (make sure you have a hotel organised):
Train No Departs Arrives
SE5 19:40 22:42
Of course, you have quite a few more options if you choose to stay an additional night in Phong Nha, with some early morning trains departing Dong Hoi to Hue and an afternoon train as well:
Train No Departs Arrives
SE1 05:50 08:48
SE19 06:28 09:42
SE3 07:40 10:27
SE7 16:36 19:47
Don’t forget you will need to arrange your transfer from Phong Nha to Dong Hoi in advance if you plan on making your early morning train.
DA NANG (HOI AN) TO/FROM PHONG NHA
Da Nang is the biggest city in central Vietnam with beautiful beaches, mountains and a 45 mins drive from the UNESCO world-heritage town of Hoi An. It is a 7 hour train/bus journey between Da Nang and Phong Nha.
From Hoi An or Da Nang to Phong Nha by bus, we recommend the Hanh Café/ Hung Thanh Bus Company (the companies partner together). The bus is VND 250,000 per person, and departs from Hoi An at 8:00 AM and 13:00 (1:00 PM) daily. Hung Thanh Bus Company partners with Hanh Café Bus Company so you will start on the Hanh Café Bus from Hoi An or Da Nang and then the company will transfer you onto a Hung Thanh bus in Hue, which will continue on to Phong Nha. For more information, please contact Mr. Shi directly at email@example.com or +84 (0) 96 991 7642.
If you are going from Phong Nha to Hoi An by bus, we recommend the Hung Thanh Bus Company, which departs between 4:00 – 4:30 AM from Thanh Phat Hotel and arrives into Hue first, where you will be transferred onto a different bus. You will then continue on to Da Nang and then Hoi An, arriving into Hoi An around 11:00 AM. It costs VND 220,000 – 250,000 per person and bookings can be made at Thanh Phat Hotel or through Mr. Shi.
There is no train station in Hoi An. You will need to transfer to Da Nang first if you would like to travel by train.
We recommend arriving the day before your tour if you are taking the train from Da Nang to ensure you get a good night sleep and are not arriving too early in the morning. Do not forget if you are travelling on the train to Dong Hoi, you will need to book an additional transfer between Dong Hoi and Phong Nha (VND 660,000 each way). The best train options are as follows:
Train No Departs Arrives
SE2 12:46 18:30
SE4 14:13 19:37