Dark Cave – Chay River: Adventure Time In Phong Nha Vietnam

“Fun and Adventurous” is the best way to summarize my trip to Dark Cave – Chay River, a natural wonder of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National park in Quang Binh, Vietnam.

After discovering in 1990, Dark cave was soon put into operation as a tourist attraction in Phong Nha. The cave is famous for many adventurous activities such as Zipline, kayaking, and cave discovery.

I share below my experience with tips and guides to exploring Dark Cave and Chay River – a turquoise river that leads to the Dark Cave entrance.

Dark cave Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park


This article includes all the information you need to know about Dark Cave and Chay River.

The article includes:

  • The location of Dark Cave
  • How to get to Dark Cave
  • Best time to visit Dark Cave
  • Dark Cave ticket price
  • What to wear in Dark Cave
  • The procedure before joining activities
  • Things to do in Dark Cave
  • Places to stay in Phong Nha
Phong Nha Ke bang

Where is Dark Cave – Chay River?

Dark Cave is on Ho Chi Minh West road in Bo Trach, Quang Binh, Vietnam.

The location of the Dark cave is about 60 km from Dong Hoi, and it takes more than 1 hour to drive from Dong Hoi to Dark Cave.

If you stay in Phong Nha town, the distance is approximately 20 km, and it takes 30 minutes to get there.

best things to do in Phong Nha


Do you know that Dark cave – Chay River is only 2km away from the ecotourism site Thien Duong Cave and 500m from Mooc River?

I would suggest combining either Thien Duong Cave or Mooc River in one day along with your visit to the Dark cave as the location of these attractions is quite far away.

How to get to Dark Cave – Chay River

a) By motorbike

If you’re an adventurous traveler, you can rent a motorbike for one day in either Dong Hoi or Phong Nha. I rent my bike from MotorVina and love the service.

On the way to Dark Cave, you will be amazed by the scenery with beautiful rice paddy fields, local houses, and small paths.

Note: If you don’t have experience in driving, you should better hire a motorbike driver.

b) By car

If you’re traveling by group, renting a charter car for a day or more can be an excellent choice.

c) By tour

Several companies offer daily tours from Phong Nha/ Dong Hoi to Dark Cave. The most common day tours are to Dark Cave and Thien Duong Cave.

Tips: Oxalis Adventure Tours company is one of the most reliable tour providers in Phong Nha-Ke Bang national park.

Phong Nha bridge to Dark Cave

Best time to visit Dark Cave

Although the ideal time to visit Phong Nha-Ke Bang attractions is from March to September, the best time to visit Dark Cave is from the middle of March to May.

At this time, the scenery is gorgeous with blue sky, white clouds, and turquoise water. Also, the weather is cold and not too hot, so it’s easy to enjoy outdoor activities.

It can be crowded from June to August as it’s the high season for local tourists to visit this site.

The weather is cold with storms from September until March next year, so I would not recommend traveling here.

Dark Cave ticket price

a) Discovery tour:

– Adults (over 1.3m high, weighing from 40-90kg)

Price: 450,000 VND / person

Including Zipline to dark caves, exploring dark caves and mud baths, Kayak, Zipline river, Adventure bridges, handball and water sports games, and equipment.

– Children: 150,000 VND / person (from 1m – 1.3m high, do not swing zip line, use kayaks with parents)

Including: Explore dark caves, mud baths, equipment, and water sports games (not including thrilling games).

– Children: 110,000 VND / person (1m-1.3m high, only participating in water games, excluding thrilling games)

– Children: Free (under 1m high, only use the children’s pool)

b) Basic Tour

This tour is only for people from 1.3m or more, weighing over 40kg and under 90kg.

  • Price: 270,000 VND / person,
  • Including: Zipline to Dark cave, Kayak, Zipline river, adventure bridge, water sports games, and safety equipment.

Before the fun starts

The instructor will give you general information about the Dark Cave when you get to the location.

They will show a video of visitors’ activities there and introduce the activity packages. As I mentioned above, there are two packages that you can choose from.

After deciding on the package, you must sign a form and take it with you when purchasing the ticket. The document indicates your health and mental standards to participate in this experience. Also, there’s a part of insurance and safety protocols.

If you need to rent a locker, paying a 50000 VND deposit for a lock is compulsory. The money will be returned after you return your lock, so keep your key tight!

Dark cave ticket price

What to wear in Dark Cave

To participate in the Discovery program, women must wear a bikini or basic swimsuit, while men wear swimsuit pants.

Therefore, preparing them in advance or buying them at Dark Cave is necessary.

After changing to an appropriate swimsuit, you will then be guided by the staff to put on a safety belt, life jacket, hat, and headlamp to ensure the safety requirements.

Things to do in Dark Cave Chay River

Try the longest Zipline in Vietnam.

The zip line is my favorite part of Dark Cave. I was scared at first and hesitated to try it due to my fear of height.

However, I decided to give it a try and love it.

The swing was not too fast, and I could enjoy the scenery. The zip line was just 400 meters, so it was quick to get to the other part.

Tips: You can carry your GoPro or selfie stick, but be careful not to drop it.

Explore Dark Cave

After the zip line, we swam a short distance to the entrance of the Dark Cave. Our guide gave brief instructions about Dark Cave, and we followed him into the cave.

The cave was completely dark and brought a strange and exciting feeling. The flashlight mounted on each helmet was the only means to light up the way, so we had to stay close together and not get lost.

As the path to the Dark Cave was narrow and slippery, we had to wriggle through small slots and not fall. After walking about 100 meters to the cave, I could feel the mud under my feet and touch them on the surrounding.

It was amazing to explore the cave even though it was just a short trip.

Enjoy mud bath

After walking 500m into the cave, we found a natural mud bath and relaxed there for about 10 to 15 minutes.

This mud bath was formed thanks to the high water level in the rainy season. The mud bath has essential minerals suitable for skin and relaxing purposes.

After relaxing at the mud bath, we walked to a small lake to wash the mud layer and enjoy the feeling of fresh skin after the natural Spa course.

Kayaking on the Chay River

We then walked back to the entrance and took the kayak to the activity spot. Doing the kayak racing among our group was fun.

kayaking on dark cave

About Chay River

The weather is sunny from February to August, and the Chay river has crystal clear water.

However, it starts to rain from September to October, and Chay water becomes muddy caused of the soil that flows into the river.

From December to January, the water is cold and difficult to swim.

Participate in outdoor activities on Chay River

March to August is the best time to enjoy outdoor activities on the Chay River.

There are a few games that you can do there, and I love the zip line one. Sliding the zip line to the middle of the river and dropping from above to the cold water creates an extreme feeling.

Tip: There’s a kid swimming pool on Chay river, so it’s a great bonus if you’re traveling with kids.

best things to do in Dark cave Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park

Where to stay in Phong Nha

I suggest staying in Phong Nha instead of Dong Hoi to save your travel time between the attractions. Also, Phong Nha town is charming, and the surrounding nature is stunning.

If you’re looking for a romantic getaway in Phong Nha, Phong Nha Farmstay is an excellent choice. Head to Son Doong Riverside and Funny Monkeys for an exciting time if you’re on a budget!

best place to stay in Phong Nha Vietnam
Beautiful view of rice paddy field at Phong Nha Farmstay

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