World’s 3rd Largest Cave : Tu Lan
Picture & text courtesy : Internet
Officially discovered in 2009, Tu Lan gained attention in 2011 when a picture by Carsten Peter of the Ken Cave’s glowing green pools won National Geographic’s Photograph of the Year. Tourism has grown steadily, but the caves, nestled near the Laos border, around 70 kilometres northwest of Phong Nha, remain wonderfully untouched, attracting only about 2,000 visitors this year.
The “hottest” cave in Vietnam right now is nearby Hang Son Doong, which made The New York Times’s list of 52 Places to Go in 2014 and is considered to be the largest in the world by volume (one chamber is five kilometres long, another 182 metres high). Discovered in 1991 by a Vietnamese farmer, it was sized up by scientists in 2009 and finally opened to the public earlier this year.
Brief of Tu Lan Cave:
19-Feb: Land in Hanoi
20-Feb: Explore Hanoi(overnight bus to camp site)
24-Feb:Caving End and stay in Hotel
27-Feb: Fly back to India
Day 1 & 2
Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is known for its centuries-old architecture and a rich culture with Southeast Asian, Chinese and French influences. At its heart is the chaotic Old Quarter, where the narrow streets are roughly arranged by trade. There are many little temples, including Bach Ma, honoring a legendary horse, plus Đồng Xuân Market, selling household goods and street food.
The tale goes that Le Koi King came across a shining metal bar when he visited his friend. It turned out that his friend caught the bar in one of his attempts for fish. The King asked for the bar, brought it home and moulded it into a sword. All of a sudden, there was two words printed on the sword “Thuan Thien” (harmonious with heaven).
Le Loi then understood that the sword was a gift from heaven. He used it for the battle against the war with a neighbouring country. At the beginning of 1428, when peace prevailed, on one of his trip to the Thuy Quan (now Hoan Kiem) Lake, there was a tortoise rising above water and shouting: “Please return the sword to the Dragon King”. Without hesitation, the King threw the sword to the lake. The tortoise took the sword and dove down the water. From then on, Thuy Quan became Hoan Kiem lake.
Nagoc Son Temple
Ngoc Son Temple (Temple of the Jade Mound) is located on an islet in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake. According to the ancient documents still preserved in the temple, it was built in the autumn of 1841.
The temple came under comprehensive repair in 1865 by Nguyen Van Sieu, an eminent scholar of the old Thang Long Capital. Other projects were also newly built or upgraded that created a new complex of relics with a harmonious architecture. These include Ngoc Son Temple, The Huc Bridge, But Thap (Pen Tower) and Dai Nghien (Ink Slab)
Ta Hien is a small street lying in famous Old Quarter of Hanoi, near Hoan Kiem Lake. The street just stretch 200 meters, but it is one of the most crowded streets in Old Quarter particularly and in Hanoi generally. Ta Hien has the most specific features of both old Hanoi and modern Hanoi. It is named “international crossroad”, drawing many foreign visitors and also Hanoi people.On the small and crowded street of Ta Hien, you can find variety of best Hanoi street foods such as Nem chua, Vietnamese bread, noodles, sweet porridges,… Especially, in summer, Ta Hien is famous for beer.
Hoa Lo Prison:
A former prison in Hanoi originally built by the French in colonial times, primarily for incarcerating political prisoners. Later, during the Vietnam War, the prison was one of the places where the North Vietnamese detained shot-down American pilots, who sarcastically nicknamed the place “Hanoi Hilton”. The museum is divided into several sections, relating to different periods in the site’s history. Starting in the wing to the east of the main entrance (the outside of which still bears the original French name of the prison: “Maison Centrale”), you first get to a small section about the village that had to make way for the prison.
Picture & text courtesy : Internet
Tu Lan Cave
- Operating: from Feb to Aug (closed from Sep to Jan)
- Duration: 4 Days / 3 Nights on tour & 1 night in luxurious countryside resort
- Adventure Level: Moderate-to-hard for physically active guests (swimming necessary)
- Minimum Age: 16 years old
- Tour Starts: 7:30 am – 8:00 am
- Tour Ends: 6:00 pm
Phong Nha – Tan Hoa – Secret Cave – Hung Ton Cave – Tu Lan Campsite – Hang Ken
Phong Nha at 7:30 – 8:00 am and a transfer to Tan Hoa village. You’ll attend the safety briefing, check on gears, equipment & sign the Form at Tu Lan office prior to trekking. At 10:00 am, the trek gets underway with a hike across peanut and buffalo fields (2.5 km) to the Rao Nan River.
After crossing the river, the group will go through the first cave of this expedition called Secret Cave at 11 am. The journey within Secret Cave then proceeds forward with a trek to Hung Ton Cave entrance. The journey within Secret Cave and the following trek to Hung Ton will take from about 11:30 am – 12:00 pm. At the entrance of Hung Ton you will take a break and enjoy lunch until about 1:00 pm.
From Hung Ton, trek through the jungle to Tu Lan Campsite. At camp, you’ll get settled and have time to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee before swimming into Ken Cave to the photo viewpoint where a famous picture of this cave was taken. There will be more time for swimming afterwards at the small waterfall by camp, while our porter team prepares a delicious dinner.
Picture & text courtesy : Internet
Tu Lan – Hang Kim – To Mo – Hung Ton – La Ken – Hung Dung Campsite
Breakfast starts this adventurous day around 8:00 am. Then, the expedition group will see the namesake of the tour, Tu Lan Cave. Visit Tu Lan Dry Cave and abseil down (15 m) into the river passage of Tu Lan Wet Cave with the support of our guide team. You will either swim or boat out of the cave (exit mode depends on season/weather).
Hang Kim is next, and you’ll enter via the dry entrance, follow the dry passage to the underground river and swim through the cave to exit into picturesque To Mo Valley. We will have lunch here from about 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Then, we will swim into Ton Cave, explore the dry passage and climb up the ladder to exit the cave.
It takes a further 2.5 hours to trek to La Ken Valley and then you’ll reach the Hung Dung Campsite (around 5:30 pm) where everyone can enjoy swimming in the natural pools. In cooler weather, you can spend this extra time taking photos of the waterfall and drinking more cups of coffee or tea. Enjoy a fulfilling dinner at around 6:00 pm.
Picture & text courtesy : Internet
La Ken – Hung Nhai – Tien Valley – Tien Campsite
At 8:00 am, the day starts with breakfast ready when you wake up. Around 9:00 am, trek over the hill through legendary jungle of Tu Lan Cave System.
At 11:00 am, cross Hung Nhai Valley to the bottom of the hill.
Enjoy its fertile valleys; breathe in the fresh air, and enjoy every moment of it. You then will reach a tranquil magnificent blue lagoon located right in the middle of the jungle surrounded by rocks. This kind of scenery is rare in the world, it makes you wish you could stop the time and live in this moment forever.
Here you’ll be able to enjoy a refreshing swim, and capture some excellent photos when the sun goes down. Your campsite of the night will be right beside the lagoon, where the mouth-watering fulfilling BBQ dinner prepared by porter team is waiting; this definitely will gain energy for your upcoming exploration of Hang Tien 1 and Hang Tien 2 the following day.
Picture & text courtesy : Internet
Hang Tien 1 – Hang Tien 2 – Tan Hoa – Farmstay
Have a big breakfast to gear up for this big, final day of the trek. Hike to the largest cave in Tu Lan Cave System, Hang Tien. Known as Fairy Cave, Hang Tien has two sections and you will explore both from about 9:30 am – 1:00 pm.
Hang Tien 1 lies beyond a field of boulders and the entrance is magnificent. Rimstone pools are stacked high and add to the magical feeling of this cave. Travel deeper into Hang Tien cave and try our brand new caving activity, the 18-meter-long flying fox. Each of you will be equipped with professional safety equipment such as sit harness, locking karabiners and tandem pulleys. You will pull yourself across the steel cables, as if you were floating in midair. Our professionally trained guide team will support you. This is one of the new exhilarating parts of the tour, enjoy this amazing experience. The squad then keeps on the journey through Hang Tien 1 to its exit and then through Hang Tien 2 before making your way back.
Lunch will take place on the return through Hang Tien, at the exit of Hang Tien 1. Then the group will proceed back through Hang Tien 1. Trek over the hill to the road where you’ll be picked up and returned to the office around 4:00 – 4:30 pm.
At Tan Hoa office, you will have time to take a proper shower that you have been waiting for many days, have a cold drink, collect your luggage and be transferred to Farmstay. Check in at the hotel around 6:00 pm, and then enjoy a gala dinner with your expedition team around 7:30 pm. The night will be spent at Farmstay.
Departure Day: Transfer to Dong Hoi
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel, take a swim in the pool , or enjoy water sports center before leaving. Take a over night bus and reach Hanoi.
Temple Of Literature
The foundation of the Palace of literature also circulated different historical records and opinions that say, the palace was founded in the year 1156. The year 1070 is referred to as the time when the palace was built. The Confucianism had increasing influence in the 13th century in Vietnam and this palace is known as the most important confucian building in the old Vietnam. Establishment of the palace was an important shift towards centralization of education in the capital and introducing a uniform education system.
You can also relax from the bustle of the city in the Temple of Literature. This long temple complex is divided into 5 walled courtyard. Big walls also prevent ambient noise of passing motorbikes, there is relative calm from the busy Hanoi. Entrance fee is only 30,000 dongs (Free: children under 15 years). Temple of Literature has been repaired several times and is maintained and still retains its original character. Pagodas, bell tower and sanctuary, and mainly original Vietnamese font (similar to Chinese characters) recorded on stone tablets carried by statue in the shape of a turtle.
Free day for shopping
Fly back to India
Do I have to swim on this tour?
Yes, you do you have to swim on this tour. There will be swimming sections of approximately 100 m – 300 m throughout the tour. Life jackets will be provided by Oxalis and are mandatory regardless of your swimming ability.
What if I am a solo traveler, can I join a group?
Solo travelers are most welcome and make up a large percentage of most groups.
- Airport pick and drop
- Bus from Hanoi to camp side (return)
- 10D/9N stay (twin-sharing) (4D/3N camping & 6D/5N in hotels)
- 1 night’s accommodation at Chay Lap Farmstay (single or twin-shared)
- Camping gear: tent, camp light, sleeping bag, mattresses, pillow
- Caving & safety gear: caving helmet, life jacket, gloves, safety harness, ropes..
- Professional caving headlight (Hope Technology headlights – 1500 lumens)
- Photography lighting supports (Hope Technology – R8 3,000 lumens)
- Light PVC backpack (if you do not want to take your own, as it will get wet)
- Dry bag (for clothing and personal belongings excl. electronics)
- Basic canvas trekking boots (only if you do not have your own pair) sizes 36 – 46
- Meals: picnic lunch and dinner (day 1, 2, 3 & 4), breakfast (day 2, 3, 4, and departure)
- Gala dinner on day 4
- Professional English-speaking tour guide and guide safety assistants
- Porter team to carry all camping gear and prepare all meals
- Porter team to carry all your personal belongings to camp
- Shared dry box for phones and small cameras (limited availability for larger cameras)
- Water purifier (used only by guide and porters) and water bottle
- Basic camping facilities with eco-friendly compost toilet using western toilet seat
- First Aid Kit and Medical Rescue Equipment (application by guides and porters only)
- Secure Storage Facility to store all luggage you will not be taking on the trek
- 1 hour complimentary kayaking at Chay Riverside
- 2 long (easy to dry) pants and 2 long sleeved shirt to wear during the trek (quick dry)
- 2 pair of shorts and t-shirts to wear at campsite and swim suit
- 1 pair of trekking boots/shoes – difficult terrain, good footwear necessary. Gore-Tex/waterproof boots are NOT recommended as they do not drain well (if you prefer your own comfortable pair)
- 1 pair of flip flops (sandals) for campsite
- 1 medium size towel
- 3-4 pairs of calf length densely woven socks (not ankle socks!)
- Anti-fungal foot powder (talcum powder)
- Personal items: mosquito repellent, sunglasses, hat, camera, underwear, toiletries
- Shoe pads and thick socks if using Oxalis canvas trekking boots
- Travel insurance (you must purchase travel insurance to join this tour, otherwise our team will help to purchase local travel insurance at VND 440,000(1500 INR) for a 4-day trip and you will be billed before your arrival date)
- Any additional costs other than those mentioned above; additional expenses may include laundry services, extra food & drink, and additional water sports & river cruises at Chay Lap Farmstay.
- Tip for guide team and porter team
If you are trekking in the colder months (February – March) please bring additional warm clothes for the evening and an extra change of long pants and shirt for swimming.
Lunch/Dinner other then caving tour
Thanks & Regards