The Hang Va cave expedition is a life-changing experience in one of the most beautiful locations in the world. Caving is an exhilarating and unique travel experience. While in Vietnam, you have to trek to Hang Va cave. Hang Va consists of hundreds of incredible cone formations, rising up from the emerald green waters. The world below ground is unlike any other place in the world. The rural area of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam will leave you with an epic adventure.
Phong Nha Ke Bang consists of thousands of different caves, including the world’s largest cave, Son Doong. Hang Va is a neighboring cave to Son Doong that has some of the most spectacular cone formations in the world. While Hang Va is not technically connected to Son Doong or Hang Nuoc Nut, each of these three caves shares the same water source, thus belonging to the Son Doong system. This region of Vietnam is a vast jungle, where a majority of the area remains unexplored. The landscape is still quite rugged and undeveloped.
In the tour to Hang Va cave with Oxalis, you get to experience multiple caves, rope traverses, underground swims, and sleeping in the middle of the jungle. Also, if you are a photographer, this trek will bring you to a number of spectacular picture spots.
Hang Va Cave
The Hang Va cave expedition can be both mentally and physically challenging. However, you will be rewarded with breath taking views. The trek involves scaling over jagged rocky hills, traversing down steep muddy trails, swimming through underground streams, climbing in tight spaces between giant boulders, and camping overnight in the jungle.
The trek to Hang Va can only be done during dry season when the rivers are “dead”. The season lasts from January to August. In fact, the river still runs throughout the cave during this time but at a lower level. Otherwise, during the rainy season the cave is completely underwater making it impossible for travel. However, the flood is what helps to create the unique cone formations.
Hang Va contains extremely rare tower cone formations, stalactites, and stalagmites. These formations are the build-up of redeposited minerals spreading throughout an entire upper section of the cave. You must take a quick traverse across some exposed rocks to get to this area. These cone formations reach close to two meters in height, the typical water level when the cave floods during rainy season.
Essential Information Prior to Departure to Hang Va Cave
How to experience Hang Va?
You must book a tour through Oxalis. The amount of trekkers are strictly regulated to make sure the cave stays in pristine condition. So, you are unable to travel to the cave on your own. Check out the tours offered by Oxalis Adventures.
How to get to Phong Nha?
Travel can be challenging. Phong Nha is quite undeveloped, but do not let that stop you from experiencing one of the hidden treasures of Vietnam. There are two major ways to get to the Oxalis Headquarters in Phong Nha. If traveling by plane the closest airport is Dong Hoi. However, if traveling directly from an international destination than you must first fly into Noi Bai (Hanoi) or Tan Son Nhat (Ho Chi Minh City) international airports. From Dong Hoi you can take a taxi or shuttle bus to Phong Nha. (est. 45 minutes)
Another option is a sleeper bus that runs from popular destinations throughout the country. This is the cheaper option but be aware some buses may have a drop off in Phong Nha in the early hours of the morning. Either way, make sure you arrive in Phong Nha by no later than 6AM on the morning of the tour.
What is the weather like?
- January – Mid-March: coldest with temperatures ranging from 12 – 15°C
- Mid-March – June: stable weather/light showers/temperatures ranging from 22 – 38°C
- July – August – generally the hottest weather overall for extended periods with temperatures ranging from 25 – 35°C/increased rainfall leading into wet season
What to bring on the tour?
All caving and camping equipment is supplied by Oxalis Tour Company. The tour provides meals, water purification, and first aid. However, here is what you will need to bring in terms of your personal gear.
- A pair of supportive shoes with good grip and able to get wet
- Second pair of camp shoes
- 1 pair of quick dry pants and t-shirt
- Extra outfit for camp
- 2 pairs of lightweight wool socks
- 2 pairs of underwear
- Light jacket (if going during the colder months)
- Personal gear: sunglasses, hat, toiletries, travel size towel, camera, and dry bag
*The Hang Va cave expedition sets up several great photography locations.
For more information on packing check out the Adventure Travel Packing List.
The Hang Va cave trek is 2-days. The first day starts with a quick information session at the Oxalis headquarters, before you travel to the national park in a van. Once in the park, you will be dropped off with your guide. You must carry all your personal gear from this point. The campsite is already set up in the jungle.
Nuoc Nut Cave
The tour starts in the jungle trekking up and down hills, and over sharp jagged rocks to reach the entrance of Nuoc Nut cave. You will enjoy a delicious lunch at the entrance of the cave. After lunch, the trek into the cave begins. Nuoc Nut is a predominantly dry cave, as opposed to Hang Va with numerous water passages. So, you will stay relatively dry while exploring this cave on the trip.
Hang Va Cave
After a short trek through the jungle, the tour leads to the campsite right outside of the entrance of Hang Va. The entrance to Hang Va is a small opening in the ground. You will clip your harness into the fixed line as you traverse 15 meters down into the cave. Before descending, prepare your light on your helmet, as it gets dark quickly.
At the entrance, the cave goes in both directions. The first day will be spent exploring the right side of the cave. Once in the cave, small passages between rock walls must be navigated, while trekking through the stream flowing at the bottom. The stream gets quite deep in certain areas throughout the trek. So, instead of a trek it becomes a swim to the next dry spot. You will spend some time swimming in a small pool below a waterfall in the cave. Afterwards, you will return back to camp. Dinner is served upon your arrival. After dinner, you have the rest of the night to hang out with the other trekkers and guides.
Hang Va Cave
Breakfast is served bright and early on the second morning. Afterwards, back down into Hang Va, except this time you will be trekking to the left. As you walk upstream, this path leads to the famous cone formations. However, you must navigate through small openings and take some deep water swims before you will reach this section of the cave. As soon as the cave opens up, another traverse must be made as you cross the exposed rock. Again, you will clip your harness in to the fixed lines and head across the rock face to the cone formations.
Once at the top, you are ready to trek slightly further to reach the cone formations. In fact, this area of the cave is extremely delicate. A ladder rung is in place. At this point you must stay on the path to avoid destroying the fragile cave environment. You will trek across the ladder trail to the end.
The trail ends at a dead-end. You will turn around and trek back out the the rock face you must traverse down. Once back at the bottom, you continue deeper into the cave to reach another waterfall. Now, you have reached one of the best photography opportunities on the trek. All in all, you will take a short break at this waterfall before retracing your steps to the entrance of the cave.
Return to Camp and Departure to Phong Nha
Once reaching the entrance, you have a short climb back above the ground to camp. Prior to departure, you eat lunch and pack up your gear. Then, you start the trek back out of the jungle. The last stretch involves running through a field of banana trees. Unfortunately, there are so many leeches in this area of the trek. So, make sure you trek quickly to prevent any from sticking to your body. Once back at the road, a van is waiting there with cold beverages to transfer you back to the Oxalis headquarters. Check out the Oxalis Adventure website for more information about tours to Hang Va. Overall, the trek into the pristine Hang Va is a once in a lifetime experience. Make sure to add the trek to your itinerary prior to leaving for Vietnam.