To say the past three days were some of the best in my life is an understatement. Phong Nha is home to the friendliest people, most stunning views and the world’s largest caves. In this little nook of the world that I had no idea existed just a mere two weeks ago, there’s a wonderfully unique accommodation called the Phong Nha Farmstay. Located just 8 kilometers outside the main village, Phong Nha Farmstay was the first to set up camp in this beautiful area in 2010, realizing its potential success in the tourism industry. Boy, were they right!
Ben, the owner of the Farmstay and an Australian native, has had a large hand in building up Phong Nha as an up and coming travel destination in Vietnam. Phong Nha is still relatively unknown on the SE Asia circuit, but Ben only gives it a few more years until it starts booming. While it will do wonders for the local economy, which is largely rural, I’m glad we got to experience the beauty of Phong Nha while it’s still untouched by mass tourism. Something that is very rare to find in this day and age.
The Phong Nha Farmstay is built on a beautiful block of land with miles and miles of rice paddies and mountains stretched out in the distance, which sure makes for one hell of a sunset. They have 16 rooms, ranging from doubles to triples to family rooms, and can sleep up to 46 people per night. It really has a home-y feel to it, and you feel like a part of a small community. With movie nights at the outdoor cinema to live music and cheap beers, there’s always something going on at the Farmstay each night after long days exploring the national park. There’s a great pool, which is very refreshing after a long (and hot!) day of hiking and biking around.
One concern I had before arriving was that there might not be any other options for dining besides at the Farmstay. I was right, but it turned out to be just fine. In my head, I thought because it would be just one option, they might jack up the prices, but in all honesty, the food and beverages were priced really reasonably and tasted SO good. Order their Pho Beef, Fried Rice with Beef, Jungle Curry, Shepherd’s Pie and Tomato Soup! You can choose from a wide selection of meals and coffee/teas for breakfast, which is complimentary as a staying guest.
During the day, there’s heaps to do. It’s almost overwhelming! Phong Nha Farmstay offers their bike cruisers to use for free throughout the day. We took the bikes down near the river, and hopped on a boat which took us to a local’s home which is slowly being converted into an Eco Lodge. The Wild Boar Eco Lodge is at the end of the Bong Lai Valley, and pretty much at the end of civilization as well! The views were absolutely stunning. After a very fresh meal, he took us to the The Pub With Cold Beer – all of which was coordinated by the Farmstay. We also used the bicycles to ride into town about 8 kilometers through the rural villages to get to the boats that would take us to the Phong Nha Cave. It was really nice they let us use these bikes to get around. You really get to see the real area by biking.
Because of some flooding that occurred the days leading up to our arrival, the rice paddies were transformed into a giant lake, which Sam and I took to our advantage to use their kayaks to go for a little paddle. It was nuts to see the lake on our first day, and by the second day, it was completely dried up!
The Farmstay also offers a National Park Tour, which includes a trip to the 8 Ladies Cave, Paradise Cave and the Dark Cave. It also includes lunch and a few stops at the historical memorials from the war. We opted out of the tour for various reasons, but every day there was a solid group of people going together, and always came back with big smiles and beer in their hands. You can’t get much better than that!
We had to get back to the Farmstay before dark each night because there aren’t any streetlights on the road, and you would most likely end up in a ditch or covered in cow poop! At first, the “curfew”, (I only call it that because we for sure weren’t going to be caught in the dark!), seemed a little restricting. After getting back from the first day’s activities, I soon realized I didn’t want to get back after dark just for safety reasons, but also because the sunset that falls over the rice paddies at the Farmstay is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen in my life. It was so much fun just grabbing beers after a long day, chatting with other travelers and the owners. As I said before, you get a real community vibe there.
We stayed in a double room on the first floor, which was excellent. For some reason, I wasn’t expecting much from a farmstay, but they go above and beyond with their rooms. High ceilings, spacious rooms, comfy beds and a great shower! Only downfall of the room was that we didn’t get any Wifi, which is big for us as bloggers. Other than that, the mosquito net worked perfectly and the air conditioning stayed cold. We couldn’t ask for anything more!
The staff was very attentive. The food was on point. The travelers all seemed like our kind of people. I went to bed every single night with a big smile on my face, and couldn’t wait for the next day. I think it would be a serious shame to travel through Vietnam and not pay the Phong Nha Farmstay a visit. And if you do, tell them Kelly and Sam say hi 🙂
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Phong Nha Farmstay in exchange for this review. As always, I would never endorse or recommend a service or product that I didn’t honestly love