Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park

Nature has bestowed on Quang Binh Province a stunning World Natural Heritage Site. It is Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park which is unique in terms of history, geology, topography and geomorphology. The park has many caves and grottoes, and Phong Nha Cave is considered one of the most beautiful caves in the world.

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Few people know that the persistent and complicated tectonics taking place continually over the past 400 million years inside the karst mountains in Phong Nha – Ke Bang area created more than 300 gigantic and incredibly gorgeous caves, especially Phong Nha Cave with 14 grottos.
Phong Nha Cave is located in the northwest of Quang Binh Province near the Vietnam-Laos border, about 50km northwest of Dong Hoi City and about 500km south of the capital city of Hanoi. From the center of Nhon Trach Commune in Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province, it takes tourists about a 30-minute motorboat ride going upstream on the Son River to reach the cave.
The beauty of Phong Nha Cave has been written about in historical books. In the late 19th century, “Dai Nam Nhat Thong Chi”, a set of geographical books in the Chinese language compiled by the national historiographer’s office during the Nguyen Dynasty, called Phong Nha Cave “the fairytale cave”.
In the late 19th century, after several expeditions, French explorer Leopold Michel Cadiere proclaimed Phong Nha Cave “the number one cave of Indochina”. In July, 1924, Barton, a British cave researcher went to Phong Nha Cave for a survey and stated that it was a beautiful and miraculous place that could be compared to the world’s most famous caves, such as the Padirac of France and the Cuevas del Prac of Spain.
 

The Son River. Photo: Nguyen Bach Chien

The entrance to Phong Nha Cave. Photo: VNP

Giant stalagmites in Phong Nha Cave. Photo: VNP

A huge Guo (Fiars Callora) tree in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. Photo: Ngo Doc Lap
A karst mountain in Phong Nha-Ke Bang. Photo: Ninh Manh Thang

Gorgeous Thien Duong Cave. Photo: Nguyen Dinh Vinh

The grandiose beauty of Thien Duong Cave. Photo: Pham Trung Thanh
In 1990, 1992 and 1994, expedition groups from the British Cave Research Association (BCRA) collaborated with the Geography Faculty of Hanoi University to conduct surveys and said that Phong Nha Cave was one of the most beautiful caves in the world in seven categories: the longest grotto, the driest, largest and most beautiful cave, the highest and widest entrance, the longest underground river, the most beautiful sand and reef banks, the most beautiful underground lake and the most magnificent and fanciful stalactites and stalagmites.
In addition to a system of caves and grottos, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park also has a tropical primeval forest with the highest biodiversity in Vietnam. The forest covering 85.75ha has rich flora and fauna, including 66 rare and precious species of animals listed in Vietnam’s Red Book and 23 species under prioritized protection of the world, such as five-coloured langurs, Saola, bears, tigers, pheasants, white-cheeked gibbons and yellow turtles.
Recently, the Scientific Research and Wildlife Rescue Centre has found a vast forest of green cypress trees which are about 500-600 years old, on the top of Phong Nha – Ke Bang mountain, at a height of 800m above sea level. The density of the cypress trees is about 600 trees/1ha. The tree trunks are 20-30m high with a diameter of 1-1.5m. This is a rare and precious species. Now there are only three species of green cypress trees identified in the world. Phong Nha – Ke Bang forest also has Cypripedioideae, a rare orchid species which is considered a “precious thing” of nature.
For its special value in the history of the Earth’s formation, on July 5, 2003, at its 27th conference in Paris, UNESCO recognized Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park as a World Natural Heritage Site.
 
MANAGEMENT BOARD OF PHONG NHA-KE BANG NATIONAL PARK
Address: Son Trach, Bo Trach, Quang Binh Province
Tel/fax: (84) 52 3677021
Website: http://www.phongnhakebang.vn

Story: Manh Thuong – Photos: VNP – Photos from the contest “Vietnam’s World Heritage Sites 2011”

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