Our next stop in Vietnam was Dong Hoi. This city was…well, boring to say the least. We arrived to our hotel at around 5AM after a VERY long bus ride. There was supposed to have 24hr reception but the place was locked up when we got there. Thankfully after some frantic knocking a man on an air mattress woke up and let us in. We weren’t able to check in at that hour (which we knew would happen) so we took naps on the very uncomfortable wooden couches. Later that night, we went out in the “city” to find a restaurant and after walking for about an hour, we had still not found a single place to eat. So we went back to the hotel and ate some very mediocre pasta there. This was about the most exciting thing that happened amid Dong Hoi city proper.
Our second day here, we headed out of town to a popular stop in Vietnam – the Phong Nha Caves. There are many caves in this area, however it was quite cold outside so we weren’t able to do any of them that involved getting in the water : ( . With our weather and time limitations we decided to go and see the main cave. Phong Nha was the largest cave in the world at the time it was discovered, although many have since surpassed it in size. The only way to get into the cave is by boat, we were able to split the cost of the boat with a few other travelers that were going through the caves as well. They took us on a 30 minute boat ride to the cave mouth and then shut the motor off and the tiniest lady I have ever seen rowed our boat with 7 full grown people in it all through the cave and back. It was really an amazing cave, very little manmade additions, and just a few lights throughout so you could see the amazing stalactites and stalagmites.
We didn’t do much else in this area since it was just an overnight stop but the Phong Nha Cave was really cool. We hope to go back one day to do the Soon Dong Cave – the world’s largest (known as of now). The SD cave is so extensive it actually houses an entire rainforest inside of it. Guided trips take you on a 7-day excursion inside the cavern – let us know if you want in on that trip!