Phong Nha, Vietnam – Day 1

Phong Nha, Vietnam – Day 1

Phong Nha Caving Adventure

Have you ever travelled somewhere and fallen in love?

Well that was me with Vietnam – one trip and it captured my heart. The soft swoosh of silk lanterns swaying in the breeze. The babble of market sellers calling to me to buy, smiling in curiosity at my long braids. The tangy sweetness of unripe mango slices, dipped in golden grains of sugar. The tingle of excitement in my spine as I perched precariously on the back of a scooter as it weaved through traffic. Utterly and completely in love I tell you!

So of course when I got a chance to go back to Vietnam I jumped at it. This time, the location was Phong Nha, a sleepy little town in the centre of Vietnam. Until fairly recently not many travellers have ventured that way, most choosing the appeal and excitement of more popular cities like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. But now known for some of the largest caves in the world, adventure-seekers have started to trickle in – myself included!

Admittedly, exploring caves is not necessarily my type of trip at all, but life is short and is for living right? Plus Vietnam and I had a love story to continue so I booked those flights…

Day 1 – Friday

Flying Out

5.15am: Up bright and early. Well not so bright – more groggy and begrudging my three hours of sleep, but certainly early. Threw on a simple uniform of denim shorts, a white shirt and trainers – plus a baseball cap to hide my sins. Strolled down to the airport express train – I’d be at the airport in no time… 

7:15am: Panic at the airport! A booking issue meant I couldn’t check in online. Stupid mistake on my part to leave it to that morning, but after rushing around trying to sort it, I had to buy a brand new one-way flight to Ho Chi Minh for an extortionate amount!! Sad times.

8.20am: Onboard the new flight from Hong Kong, with my wallet significantly lighter. It was a two-hour flight to Ho Chi Minh, and we’d have five hours to kill before our connection to Dong Hoi. 

Phong Nha - touchdown

11am: Landed in Ho Chi Minh City and had the most PHENOMINAL food tour! (Post coming soon)

3pm: Back to the airport for our one-hour connection to Dong Hoi. Great chance to sleep off my food coma 😀

Finally in Phong Nha

7pm: Finally arrived at Nguyen Shack in Phong Nha after a one hour drive from Dong Hoi airport. Our home for the weekend was breathtaking! A gorgeous eco-resort with a series of cosy cottages and rooms overlooking a lake (although the dry season meant scarily-low water levels).

Phong Nha - Nguyen Shack 1

A sea of greens and yellows as far as the eye culd see, and the setting sun gave the entire place a romantic glow.

Phong Nha - Nguyen Shack 3
Phong Nha - Nguyen Shack 2

As we took it all in we were shocked out of our tranquil state by the squeals and grunts of the hotel’s pet pig being playfully tormented by three adorable puppies. It was A LOT of nature, but I smiled to myself as I took it all in – I was ready for Vietnam.

Nguyen Shack Views
Phong Nha - Nguyen Shack 5
Phong Nha - Nguyen Shack 4

We were shown to our cabins and they are just as natural and charming as you would expect. Made out of wood, it felt like I was inexplicably one with the outdoors. A feeling most people would love, but it made me a little nervous…I was worried that “the outdoors” will get into my cabin! In this case “the outdoors” being snakes. A thorough check of the cabin for them and any other lurkers eased my fears (a little).

Phong Nha - Nguyen Shack 9
Phong Nha - Nguyen Shack 9
Phong Nha - Nguyen Shack 8

8.30pm: Dinner time! We opted for barbecue, which involved us doing all the cooking ourselves. Not the best idea for 24 hungry campers – but delicious all the same! Then it was straight to bed as we had a super early start in the morning…

Phong Nha BBQ
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