Paradise Caves

Vietnam is a typical ‘gap yah’ destination, but with good reason. It’s my favourite country because of the people, the food, the history, and the diversity. I spent 3 ½ weeks there and visited 9 different places, but I have narrowed it down to the 2 most unmissable spots.

It’s my favourite country because of the people, the food, the history, and the diversity

Firstly, in northern Vietnam sits one of the most beautiful natural creations I have ever seen, called ‘Halong Bay’. It is famous for its emerald waters and thousands of limestone karsts, making it a unique place to visit. The Vietnamese like to ask if you would like the ‘scientific’ or the ‘Vietnamese’ version of how the bay came to be (the Vietnamese one is much more interesting). According to an old legend, the Vietnamese were fighting invaders when the God’s sent a dragon down to help them. The dragon began spitting out jewels which formed the karsts and provided a fantastic wall as protection, allowing them to win the war. To see the bay in all its glory most tourists stay on a boat for a few days. During these few days you can kayak, explore the many caves hidden in the karsts, visit the fishing village, and sleep under the stars.

Secondly, north of central Vietnam is a national park called ‘Phong Nha Ke Bang’. For anyone who loves exploring caves, this place is a must-see. It is home to the largest cave in the world ‘Hang Son Doong’ (which is big enough for a Boeing 747 aircraft to fly through) and was only re-discovered in 2009. I would recommend going on a tour here because of the sheer scale of the place. We began the tour by visiting temples dedicated to the people who had hidden and died in the park during the Vietnam war. Then we hiked up to see ‘Paradise Cave’, which was beautiful and went on for 7km. Afterwards we got into swimming costumes, strapped torches on, and ziplined our way into the ‘Dark Cave’. Here you can slide down muddy banks, swim in what I can only describe as being exactly like melted chocolate, and by the end of it you are covered head to toe in thick mud. The rest of the day you can spend kayaking, attempting obstacle courses on the lake, or having a leisurely swim, followed by a Vietnamese lunch in the rainforest amongst the wildlife.

Vietnam offers a unique and amazing travelling experience – go see it for yourself!

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