The Mystery of Forests in Minh Hoa

 We followed Dinh Hong Nham, a famous forester, and spent several days going through thick forests and crossing over streams to discover the beauty and mystery of caves hidden in deep forests in Minh Hoa District, Quang Binh Province in the Central Region of Vietnam.

We all felt secure when we were led by Nham, who has spent half of his life in the forest and seems to know every inch of the forest in Minh Hoa where there are some magnificent caves that few people know about.  

Tourists have to climb on high and dangerous cliffs.

Mysterious stalactites inside caves in Minh Hoa Forest.

The primitive beauty of Minh Hoa Forest.

Tourists cross a stream using inner tubes.
During our trip, we had to climb over many rocks and go through deep valleys under the canopy of a primitive forest. The forest was wet with dew and the rotten leaves made moss grow on rough rocky blocks. It was so dangerous that if one took a false step they could hit their face on the sharp rugged rocks or fall into the mountain creeks.

Our first destination was a rather flat sand bank near an unnamed stream. According to Nham, all large and small streams in Minh Hoa forest run from the inside of the mountains where there are wonderful caves.

To get to the first cave, we must cross a stream using life buoys made from inflated inner tubes. Entering the cave, we were surprised by a wonderful “palace” with charming stalactite curtains hanging down from the cave’s ceiling. Inside, the cave looks like an artificial stage with glamorous stalagmites which are in the shape of dancing animals. There are three giant stalagmite pillars arranged into a three-gate entrance of a pagoda.

The miraculous charm of stalactites in caves in Minh Hoa Forest.

The high cupola of a cave is an ideal home for bats in the forest.
Leaving the first cave, we spent more than three hours climbing the mountains to reach the second cave. Here, the stalactites and stalagmites have a shiny brass colour and give sounds like bells when beating. The ground in the cave was covered by pebbles of the size of chicken-eggs. When the light hits them just right, the pebbles sparkle and seem transparent. Dinh Hong Nham said: “During my trips to the forest, I discovered five caves at the riverhead and most of these caves connect with each other. In these caves, there are some stretches that are submerged by underground water, causing difficulty in traveling.”

Phong Nha Grottoes are considered a splendid castle that is appreciated by the tourism sector. The system of caves in Minh Hoa forest is like a sleeping beauty who is waiting to be awakened. Talking about these caves, Dinh Minh Chat, Chairman of Minh Hoa District People’s Committee said: “Minh Hoa District is a buffer zone of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park so that it has many beautiful caves. Recently, the district has conducted surveys to make plans to protect and call for investment in building trans-forest tracking tours to discover the beauty of the new system of caves.

By Thong Thien