Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

 Viet Nam
N17 32 14 E106 9 4.5
Date of Inscription: 2003
Extension: 2015
Criteria: (viii)(ix)(x)
Property : 123,326 ha
Buffer zone: 220,055 ha
Ref: 951bis
News Link/Travelogues: Vietnam; VN – Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is located in the middle of the Annamite Mountain Range in Quang Binh province, Viet Nam, and shares its boundary with the Hin Namno Nature Reserve in the Lao PDR to the west. The property comprises an area of 123,326 ha and contains terrestrial and aquatic habitats, primary and secondary forest, sites of natural regeneration, tropical dense forests and savanna and is rich in large, often spectacular and scientifically significant caves.

The property contains and protects over 104 km of caves and underground rivers making it one of the most outstanding limestone karst ecosystems in the world. The karst formation has evolved since the Palaeozoic period (some 400 million years ago) and as such is the oldest major karst area in Asia. Subject to massive tectonic changes, the karst landscape is extremely complex, comprising a series of rock types that are interbedded in complex ways and with many geomorphic features. The karst landscape is not only complex but also ancient, with high geodiversity and geomorphic features of considerable significance.

The karst formation process has led to the creation of not only underground rivers but also a variety of cave types including: dry caves, terraced caves, suspended caves, dendritic caves and intersecting caves. With a length of over 44.5 km the Phong Nha cave is the most famous of the system with tour boats able to penetrate inside to a distance of 1,500 m. The Son Doong Cave, first explored in 2009, is believed to contain the world’s largest cave passage in terms of diameter and continuity.

A large number of faunal and floral species occur within the property with over 800 vertebrate species recorded comprising 154 mammals, 117 reptiles, 58 amphibians, 314 birds and 170 fish. The property clearly has impressive levels of biodiversity within its intact forest cover, notwithstanding some gaps in knowledge of the population status of some species. .

Criterion (viii): Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is part of a larger dissected plateau, which encompasses the Phong Nha, Ke Bang and Hin Namno karsts. The limestone is not continuous and demonstrates complex interbedding with shales and sandstones. This has led to a particularly distinctive topography. The caves demonstrate a discrete sequence of events, leaving behind different levels of ancient abandoned passages; evidence of major changes in the routes of underground rivers; changes in the solutional regime; deposition and later re-solution of giant speleothems and unusual features such as sub-aerial stromatolites. On the surface, there is a striking series of natural landscapes, ranging from deeply dissected ranges and plateaux to an immense polje. There is evidence of at least one period of hydrothermal activity in the evolution of this ancient mature karst system. The Son Doong Cave, first explored in 2009, could contain the world’s largest cave passage in terms of diameter and continuity. The plateau is one of the finest and most distinctive examples of a complex karst landform in Southeast Asia and the property is of great importance for enhancing our understanding of the geologic, geomorphic and geo-chronological history of the region.

Criterion (ix): Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park consists of a complex limestone landscape, which includes very large caves and underground rivers. The property includes karst formations which are some of the oldest and largest in Asia, and it has geological, climatic, hydrographic and ecological conditions which are distinct from other limestone karst landscapes. Its cave ecosystems and habitats are unique with high levels of endemism and adaptations displayed by cave-dependent species. The property constitutes one of the largest remaining areas of relatively intact moist forest on karst in Indochina, with a forest cover estimated to reach 94%, of which 84% is thought to be primary forest. Furthermore, the property protects globally significant ecosystems within the Northern Annamites Rainforests and Annamite Range Moist Forests priority ecoregions.

Criterion (x): A high level of biodiversity is found within the property, with over 2,700 species of vascular plants and over 800 vertebrate species. Several globally threatened species are also present: 133 plant species and 104 vertebrate species have been reported, including several large mammals such as the endangered Large-antlered Muntjac, Clouded Leopard, and the critically endangered Saola. The level of endemism is high, especially in the cave systems. Furthermore, it is estimated that over 400 plant species endemic to Viet Nam are found within the property, as well as 38 animal species endemic to the Annamite range. Several new species to science have recently been found, including cave scorpions, fish, lizards, snakes and turtles, and more species are likely to be discovered. Importantly, four threatened primate taxa endemic to the Annamites are found within the property: the Hatinh Langur (specialised in karst forest and endemic to Viet Nam and the People’s Democratic Republic of Lao), the black form of the Hatinh Langur, sometimes considered as a separate species, the Red-shanked Douc Langur, and the largest remaining population of White-cheeked Gibbon.

Suggested base:

Dong Hoi  is the capital city of Quang Binh Province in Central Coast of Vietnam. Dong Hoi on the Nhat Le River and by the South China Sea with its 12 km of white sandy beaches. There is not much to do in Dong Hoi but relax, enjoy its beaches and drink a beer; get there now before the masses do. Many hotels and tour groups operate tours to these nearby beaches and caves. There are few tourists in Dong Hoi, so you will be greeted with many hellos. Nhat Le Beach is nearby, but the focus of the town is very much on the river and canals. Dong Hoi had been a small village before Vietnam was divided during the time of Trinh-Nguyen War (1558–1775), after which Vietnam was divided into two countries: Dang Trong (south) and Dang Ngoai (north) with the Gianh River as the frontier. [read more]

Ha Tinh is a city in Vietnam. It is the capital of the Hà Tĩnh Province, and lies in North Central Coast region. It is located on the National Highway 1A. The Vietnamese capital Hanoi is located 340 km north from Hà Tĩnh; 50 km north from it the city Vinh is located; Hue city is located 314 km south. Hà Tĩnh is 12.5 km away from the South China Sea. North borders: Town Thạch Hà (via Cày bridge), Cửa Sót river. West borders: Thạch Đài Commune, Cày river (Thạch Hà district). Southern borders: Cẩm Bình Commune, Cẩm Vịnh Commune (Cẩm Xuyên district). Eastern borders: Đồng Môn river (Thạch Hà district, Lộc Hà) [read more]

Hue (Huế) (sounds much like huh-WAY) is in the central region of Vietnam and is the former imperial capital. Hue is intimately connected to the imperial Nguyễn Dynasty, based in Hue, which ruled from 1802 to 1945, when the Emperor Bao Dai abdicated in favour of Ho Chi Minh’s revolutionary government. The city went through tough times during what is known locally as the American War, when it was conquered by the Viet Cong and held for 24 days. During that time, they executed around 1,000 people suspected of sympathizing with the South. After a ferocious assault, US and South Vietnamese forces retook the city. Hue is easy to get a grip on. The main landmark is the Perfume River (Hương Giang), with the old city and the citadel on the north side and the newer city, including most hotels and restaurants, on the south side. [read more]

3 replies »

  1. I feel like a new sky has been opened to us. Some stalagmites remind us of Buddha, the Great Wall of China, and a rong (communal house) of Tay Nguyen (the Central Highlands).


  2. The experience over there is otherworldly.

    It’s a jungle within a cave.

    Misty clouds encircle the scenery and demonstrate evidence of the cave’s own weather system. Other staggering features were the fossil passageways that give proof of the cave’s ancient existence.

    When I think of the whole experience I get a sense of pride and achievement that I was capable of going on such an adventure.

    To be able to do something you didn’t think you would be able to is exceptionally empowering


  3. The Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, had been one of my stop in Vietnam. It’s an otherworldly landscape of vertical outcroppings of limestone karst, interspersed with rice paddies that are still dotted with small, circular ponds, craters left by B-52 bombing raids, a place where subterranean rivers flow through one of the largest and most spectacular cave systems in the world.

    Deep inside the park, we stopped to walk along a turquoise river that ran between sheer, forested slopes. Assamese macaques crashed around in the trees. An endangered Hatinh langur stood erect on a branch high above us, leaning forward on both hands and looking for all the world like an old man enjoying the scenery. Beautiful.


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