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 very beautiful with blue sky, white clouds, and turquoise water. Also, the weather is cool and not too hot so it’s easy to enjoy the outdoor activities.
From June to August, it can be crowded as it’s the high season for local tourists to visit this site.
From September until March next year, the weather is cold with storms 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, equipment.
– Children: 150,000 VND / person (from 1m – 1.3m high, do not swing zipline, use kayaks with parents)
Including: Explore dark caves and mud baths, equipment, 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, safety equipment.
Before the fun starts
When you get to the location, the instructor will give you general information about the Dark Cave.
He or she will show a video of activities that visitors can do there, and introduce the activity packages. As I mentioned above, there are 2 packages that you can choose from.
After deciding the package, you will need to sign a form and take it with you when purchasing the ticket. The form 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, it’s compulsory to pay 50000 VND deposit for a lock. The money will be returned after you return your lock so keep your key tight!
What to wear in Dark Cave
In order to participate in the Discovery program, women are required to wear a bikini or basic swimsuit, while men wear swimsuit pants.
Therefore, it is necessary to prepare them in advance or you can buy it at Dark Cave.
After changing to appropriate swimsuit, you will then 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 zipline is my favorite part of Dark Cave. To be honest, I was super 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 around. As the zipline was just 400 meters, 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 zipline, we swam a short distance to the entrance of the Dark Cave. Our guide gave a short instruction of Dark cave and we followed him into the cave.
The cave was completely dark and brought a mysterious and interesting feeling. The flashlight mounted on each helmet was the only mean to light up the way, so we had to stay close together and not to get lost.
As the path to the Dark Cave was really narrow and slippery, we had to wriggle through small slots and not to 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
We found a natural mud bath after walking 500m into the cave and relaxed there at about 10 to 15 minutes.
This mud bath was formed thanks to the high level of water in the rainy season. The mud bath has essential minerals which are good 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 natural Spa course.
Kayaking on Chay River
We then walked back to the entrance and got on the kayak to the activity spot. It was fun to do the kayak racing between our group.
About Chay River
From February to August, the weather is sunny and Chay river has crystal clear water.
However, from September to October, it starts to rain a lot, and Chay water becomes muddy caused by the soil that flows into the river.
From December to January the water is really cold and difficult to swim.
Participate in outdoor activities on Chay River
From March to August is the best time to enjoy outdoor activities on Chay River.
There are a few games that you can do there, and I love the zipline one. Sliding the zipline 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 as well, so it’s a great bonus if you’re traveling with kids.
Where to stay in Phong Nha
I would suggest staying in Phong Nhainstead of Dong Hoi to save your travel time between the attractions. Also, Phong Nha town is really lovely and the surrounding nature is stunning.
I stayed at Shambalaa Hostel, a budget sister hostel with Easy Tiger. I could also use the same service in Easy Tiger such as swimming pool, free beer hour, free bicycle rental and free guidance every morning.
If you’re looking for a romantic getaway in Phong Nha, Phong Nha Farmstay (also the same chain with Easy Tiger) is an excellent choice.
If you’re a guest from either Shamballa, Easy Tiger or Phong Nha Farmstay, you can use each location’s facility such as swimming pool.
There’s a free transport pickup service from Phong Nha Farmstay to Easy Tiger every evening at 7 pm.