Next stop on the trip: Phong Nha. We took an overnight bus from Hanoi (which is one of the main ways to travel round Vietnam) & arrived at 4am – so long. You do get to lie down on these buses & there is wifi (which sometimes works 🙄) but I’m warning ya the drivers drive veeeery fast & crazy which unfortunately you can’t really escape that in Vietnam, they’re lunatics!!
You can go all over the place to find an open bus ticket and they’re dead cheap. We paid about £35 for one to get us all the way through Vietnam. It works as a hop on hop off kind of thing -all you gotta do is book onto the bus 24 hours beforehand which you can do from any of the offices. If you’re buying your ticket from Hanoi, I recommend the Queen Bus. You can get a cheap ticket from the Indochina Travel Agents which is opposite the Downtown Backpackers Hostel in Hanoi.
Basically the reason you’d wanna go to Phong Nha is for the caves. There’s a dark cave, paradise cave & botanical gardens kind of thing which you can do altogether as a day trip. However, we arrived to a completeeeely blacked out road as there’d been a massive storm and a power cut 🙄so we couldn’t stay in the hostel we wanted to (Easy Tiger, recommended to be the best for backpackers). For some reason no one had informed us of the storm & that alllll the ratchet caves were closed 😭 so we basically had to spend a night & day there doing nothing. BUT this did lead to a couple of positives 👉🏽
Number 1. Because of the power cut we had to check into a different place so we went to the hotel across the road (Thanh Hotel (I think it’s called)) which suited us with a double bed each (STARFISH ⭐️) ensuite & super quick wifi so obvs we used this time to kick back, relax & catch up on TOWIE & MIC, bcos priorities 🙊 This hotel actually worked out cheaper than Easy Tiger would have been too.
Numero 2. I was able to get a workout in! We borrowed push bikes during the day to explore where we were (legit like 1 road in the middle of nowhere, the storm had left it looking like the aftermath of a natural disaster 😩) & unsurprisingly there were no gyms, however we did come across a perfect little spot for a HIIT session. If you cycle/walk 2 mins down the road (left out of Easy Tiger Hostel), you will come across the entrance to the Tourism Centre. Here is a massive flat drive kind of thing which doesn’t seem to have any attraction so people/cars etc getting in the way wasn’t an issue. We busted out a 15/20 min session & were good to go – see my Instagram for the workout @nikesandnutella 💪🏽
Number Trois. We had dinner at THE most delicious restaurant, called Bamboo Cafe. All we wanted was some food that tasted fresh & nutritious, and that was definitely delivered ✅ We had tofu in a tomato sauce, which came out like a ratatouille – sooooo good 😍 and I had chicken & veggies. Straight 10/10 and so cheap too with the nicest staff. We also had the ‘penis banana’ for dessert… don’t knock it till you try it ✌🏽
Soo key points for Phong Nha 🔑
– Double check all the caves are open before you go otherwise you ain’t got shiiiii to do.
– Def do the dark caves, they’re meant to be amazing & I’m gutted I couldn’t do them, you get to do mud baths, zip lining, swimming, kayaking etc.
– If only the Paradise Cave is open I wouldn’t waste your money!
– Easy Tiger Hostel or Thanh Hotel
– Bamboo Cafe FTW 🙌🏽