Tu Lan Caving Center
Tu Lan Caving Center
5
About
Tu Lan caves system is located in Minh Hoa District, Quang Binh Province, this is the Karst center of 200ha next to Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park. The caves system has been discovered by local fishermen in 2009 and explored by British Cave Research Association (BCRA) in 2010, there were only 3 caves, Tu Lan, Hang Ken and Hang Tien have been explored in 2010 expedition, in 2012 the BCRA expedition came back and explored more caves include Hung Hon, Hang Uoi, Hang Chuot, Hang Son Oxalis and Hang Kim. There are few more caves have been found in 2013 in this area. Tu Lan caves system became popular when Carsten Peter (NatGeo photographer) took a photo in Hang Ken that won so many prizes on National Geographic Magazine in 2011. The caves system is now open for tourist and managed by Oxalis Company Limited, and special caving and jungle trekking company. The intent of Oxalis that to keep this caves system as natural, no construction and housing to be built in this area, the objective is making everybody feel like the first person in the area. There are several tour options from one day to 5 days and from very easy to very hard trek.
Suggested duration
More than 3 hours
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The area
Address
Tan Hoa Village, Minh Hoa District, Dong Hoi 45000 Vietnam
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.

5.0
138 reviews
Excellent
124
Very good
13
Average
0
Poor
1
Terrible
0

MaroubraGirl72
Maroubra62 contributions
Nov 2017 • Solo
This trek rates as one of the most challenging things my 45 year old falling apart body has been through in recent years. With a knee replacement and shoulder reco calling, I was umming and ahhing as to whether to do this but I’m so glad I did.
We scaled and descended almost vertical rock face in extremely muddy and slippery conditions, visited the massive Hang Chuot (Rat Cave), had brief reprieves walking through valley floors, and made our way up to the entrance of Hang Ton, which afforded a brilliant view of the valley below. A very long ladder inside the cave leads to the cave floor, and from there the journey truly began. We had to swim through the cave river (fully clothed) to reach the other side and out to another valley. All with only our headlamps to light the way. A late lunch was prepared by the shore of a beautiful small waterfall. The trek back to where we started along a different route proved the most eventful of the day. The sun went down earlier than they had anticipated so we were left to climb, descend and swim back across a raging open river with only our headlamps. The memories of this amazing jungle trek will live on in my mind forever.
Written December 7, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Cheryl T
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam8 contributions
Apr 2018
I visited some caves in Phong Nha: Hang En cave, Dark cave, Paradise cave, E Cave,.. but Tu Lan is the best.
That tour is amazing, don't miss it if you come to Phong Nha.
Written June 18, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

greg dennis
Ballarat, Australia169 contributions
Nov 2018 • Solo
Went on the 1Day Tu Lan Cave tour with Oxalis Adventure Tours on 13 Nov (1st day after wet season break). What a fantastic day - hiking, fording rivers, climbed down into cave and swam/floated through the cave and out into river. Helmets with lights were handy. Beautiful lunch riverside then hiked through prehistoric jungle and karst mountains to dry cave with bats, frogs, huge spiders. Dung and Bao, our guides were very entertaining and informative on the hike and on return bus trip along Ho Chi Minh trail. An amazing day, hot showers at the end were nice touch !
Written November 30, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Tommo
London, UK34 contributions
Dec 2016 • Couples
Did the 1 day tour with our guide who at first seemed very friendly. However this soon turned out into a military stand there, stand there so this type of tour. The briefing went on for ages and totally unnecessary with loads of useless information. The team briefing at the 2nd oxalis camp was a joke and totally unprofessional with no one knowing what to do at all.

Worst to come was that our 4 km cave express expedition was soon to become 400m.

We then trekked through what felt like 10 km
Of jungle and was a chore rather than enjoying it.

Lunch was pathetic especially for vegetarians
And was just an egg omelette.

Don't get me wrong the cave was awesome
But this tour is so badly run.

We had a way better tour doing the paradise cave with phong Nha tours.

Written December 25, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Dear Thomas, Thanks for leaving us this detailed review which helps Oxalis improve our services better. As you know, Oxalis is running tours in remote areas and safety is our out top priority for tourist, therefore the safety briefing must be in detail and ensure tourists understand terrain and potential risks during the tours. We understand that you are an adventurer who wanted to challenge yourself more in the jungle and the cave. However, what our tour guide did was definitely to keep the whole team safe while you are trekking and caving in a foreign jungle. We apologize if it limited your chance to spend more time in the jungle and caves but hope you can understand our position. We are sorry that you have not visited the full 4 km of the cave, in which accessibility was limited due to weather conditions. However, the first 400 m is the best part of the cave and we have tried our best to make your experience as close as possible to the description on our website. As mentioned, website itineraries are subject to change in unexpected weather to ensure tour safety, and we have to follow that priority on our tours. The motorbike transits were for the same reason of safety because the road was too slippery to take the whole group through on a car, even on a 4-seater car. However, we are improving the road quality to avoid this happening again. Regarding vegetarian options, our operation team is working to generate more options for participants so that the upcoming vegetarians can enjoy our food better. Thank you for your comment regarding meal options, which we will improve upon. Hope this makes things clearer and we sincerely thank you again for this comment. We will take it as a chance to make our services better. Wish you all the best on your onward travel, Oxalis Adventure Team
Written December 28, 2016
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

errin2016
Oakland, CA1 contribution
Mar 2016 • Couples
This 2-day, 1-night tour was the highlight of my trip to Vietnam, hands down.

This particular tour has a minimum age of 16, which seems appropriate. This was not an easy tour, but I never felt unduly challenged or unsafe. Over the course of 2 days we did some substantial jungle trekking, climbing very steep slopes and sharp rocks. We explored 5 caves, at times squeezing through very tight crevices. We forded streams of waist-high water and swam through several caves (sometimes in darkness). A few of the swims were considerable and life jackets were mandatory (helmets too).

Our tour began with pick-up at our hotel, then we drove an hour & 15 minutes to an Oxalis outpost near the starting location. (We left our suitcases behind at the hotel and took an overnight bag.) At the outpost, our guide gave us the itinerary rundown, had us sign waivers, and outfitted us with helmets, headlamps, gloves, water bottles, and semi-dry bags. We sent our overnight gear off with the porters, and they locked up our valuables at the outpost. Oxalis holds your passport while you're on the tour - this is mandatory.

We hiked through the valley, across muddy fields and past buffalo, forded a knee-high stream, and then reached the jungle, where we hacked our way through vegetation and climbed steep, sharp rocks. This first hike was on the short side, and we stopped for an early lunch in a small cave. Our porter had arrived before us and spread out a ton of food: bread, cheese, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, cold fried egg, chili sauce, rice crackers, Choco-Pies, bananas, watermelon, etc. I didn't think we could possibly eat it all, but we (nearly) did.

Then we resumed our trek. This next portion was considerably longer, and more difficult. Oxalis recommends full coverage with long sleeves, long pants, long socks, and gloves, and I was very glad to be outfitted accordingly. The gloves were necessary (they provide them), as we needed our hands as much as our feet to clamber over the very sharp rocks.

The next cave required swimming. This was the most fantastic part of the tour. The formations were incredible. Our guides were clearly familiar with the terrain, but it still felt like new ground. New caves in this system are still being discovered. (One that we explored was found by a tourist on an Oxalis tour just last year! He'd stepped into the brush to go to the bathroom and spotted the cave opening.)

As we moved deeper into the cave, we suddenly felt the air turn warm. Our guide explained that we were getting near the water. Little bugs and moths started flitting to our headlamps. Turning the lamps off provided instant relief, but as we approached the water we needed to see, so we kept being dive-bombed by bugs. Then little bats started swooping around, attracted by the bugs. The bats weren't scary at all. In fact, I was rooting for them.

The moths got aggressive as we tried to navigate into the water. We couldn't really speak, or risk eating them. We were standing on the edge of the cave lake, trying to come to terms with entering this dark body of water for the first time, but the moths were so bad that we couldn't hesitate long - we just had to jump! It was like ripping off a Band-Aid. I was scared, and then suddenly I was swimming in the pitch-black waters of this cave. The bugs disappeared almost immediately. We laughed hysterically, unable to believe what had just happened. And then were floating in this ancient, living museum. We swam through the dark for awhile, training our headlamps on the spectacular formations around and above us. It was quiet. After a few minutes we saw a shaft of light in the distance, and when we rounded the corner the mouth of the cave yawned in front of us, revealing the bright day and green jungle beyond. I realized that I have seen some amazing places and witnessed some amazing things in my life, but this was probably the coolest thing I have ever done.

The next day we explored 3 more caves, and swam through 1 or 2. But nothing beat the first experience.

Our porters set up the overnight camp near the mouth of one of the caves. There was a waterfall there, and we jumped off it, which was exhilarating. The camps offered tents or hammocks and a basic camp toilet (essentially a toilet seat set up over a large bucket, with a bag of rice husks to cover your leavings). They have a water filtration system set up at camp, for cooking and refilling water bottles. Meals were downright delicious. For a bunch of guys who couldn't cook when they got the job, our porter team learned some gourmet camp cuisine. We had freshly prepared spring rolls (from scratch), marinated chicken and beef, Vietnamese stew, steamed greens, fresh fruit and more. In our tent they provided thin camping mattresses and 2 thin sleeping bags per person. I was still a little chilly, and slept in my fleece and down jacket.

Our porters had to trek our gear into the jungle. I didn't appreciate this until I actually saw them do it - first they loaded our gear into large red dry bags, then drove them (via motorcycle) to the edge of the jungle. Later we saw them trekking up the same difficult jungle paths - and even swimming through the caves with these bags on their backs! I was so impressed.

During the trekking/caving, our guide held our cell phones & electronics in a dry canister, which he enclosed in a dry bag. We were able to stop and take pictures in most spots, but none of the pictures really do the tour justice.

Again, this tour was the highlight of my Vietnam trip. I would strongly recommend it.
Written April 10, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

CTMerebear
Beijing, China104 contributions
Feb 2018 • Family
This was the most amazing experience! We had a great guide and Sherpa! We hiked in and spent the night and hiked back out the next day. Our 14 year old son found the hike a piece of cake while my husband and I struggled some times. It rained the entire first day and the water was cold while we swam but the caves and formations were absolutely stunning! Our camp staff were excellent cooks and took very good care of us. They even made homemade potato chips!
Written March 27, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

onefinesunday
Asia209 contributions
Apr 2017 • Solo
BACKGROUND
# I did the 4D3N TU LAN EXPEDITION TOUR.
# I have no prior caving experience before this.

HIGHLIGHTS
+ From the very first email, the Oxalis sales team is on the ball. All communications were effectively done via emails. This is crucial when you are making bookings AND payments way in advance for some tours.
+ The entire experience is a total adventure.
+ The food on trail. Exceptional.
+ The guides/porters/crew. Hardworking, resourceful, friendly despite language barriers. Local guides have good command of English.
+ The tents are clean and spacious. Sleeping bag, mat, pillow provided.
+ All caving equipments are provided and are in good conditions. I even used their army canvas shoes.
+ One barely needs to carry anything during the hikes/treks but your water bottle. Had no shortage of water throughout.
+ Safety is paramount and is observed at all times.
+ Comfortable resort stay in Chaylap Farmstay before and after the tour. Included in price.
+ Did I mention the food?

COULD BE BETTER
- This is beyond Oxalis' control and may not apply to everyone. The tent was too warm for me at night. Some members of my group shared the same sentiment. You might want to take note during non "winter" seasons. Leaving only your mosquito nets (front/back) closed helps with ventilation a little. It gets cooler towards dawn.

EXTRAS
* This tour is rated as Level 5/6 in terms of difficulty on Oxalis website. But based on personal opinions/reviews of the guides and a group member who had done Level 6 (Son Doong Expedition) tours, this Tu Lan Expedition tour is actually much more challenging in many aspects.
* Photography is allowed inside the caves. There is limited window for you to do your photography as the group moves on and the itinerary is full each day. Unless you are confident with your skills, it is a good idea to do some homework or practice using your camera before you do the tour. It will help.
* No charging at camps during tour. Bring power banks or spare batteries.
* You only need to pack your personal items to bring to this tour. Almost everything else is provided.
* Leave your rain coats/ponchos behind.
* Recommended essentials to bring: cap/hat/head cover, thick socks (especially if you're borrowing their canvas shoes), insects repellent.
* You can shower/clean up at the end of the tour before returning to your overnight stay. Towel is provided.

CONCLUSION
Be prepared for total adventure. 8-9 caves of distinct sizes and attributes. They are all surreal in their own ways. Leaving you in awe.

The jungle hike is not for the faint hearted. It is not easy. Gets worse if it rains a lot.

The entire tour is very well organised from start to end. No problems at all.

Highly recommended for adventure seekers.
Written May 24, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Dear Wisnu, Thank you for joining Oxalis in Tu Lan Expedition tour back in April, 2017. Your detailed review is amazing and we believed this is a great resource for anyone considering doing the trip. It's incredibly amazed us that with a basic trekking skills, you made it successfully and safely. You should be proud of yourself since this tour is quite a challenging one and some people find it hard to overcome. Your review encourages us very much and help us to improve the tour quality day by day, review by review. While the guide team are all qualified and have great skills in emergency situations, we care about the quality of the safety equipment as well. They got check up and updated regularly to maintain the safety at its highest level. The campsite is furnished with basic camping equipment and the quality is chosen to be suitable in every kind of weather conditions. You can let the cool air in by open the front/back main layer and zip-up the mosquito-net layer to prevent the mosquito/insects while maintain the cool air in your tent. Besides, in winter these tents can keep you warm despite heavy rain or wind. We appreciate your comments very much and will surely use it to improve our tour quality in the future. We hope to see you back very soon in Phong Nha for plenty more of adventures ahead with Oxalis! Regards, Oxalis Adventure Team
Written June 29, 2017
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

BRro1
4 contributions
May 2017 • Solo
I did the 4D3N Tu Lan Expedition Tour. This was my 3rd tour with Oxalis in two weeks after Hang Va and Son Doong. Yes, I did all expedition tours and I enjoyed all of them 110%. I found Tu Lan expedition to be a bit more challenging than Son Doong 4D3N Expedition due the fact that you need to cover more distance during the day, more water crossings and swimming in the caves. Camp sites are amazing. All are close to water where you can relax swimming after a day of trekking. Food is really good and the guides and porters super friendly and helpful.
Written June 6, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Dear Bogdan, We would like to send you our deepest thank you for joining all of our expedition tour back in May, 2017. We believed that you had a great time get to know about the area both in Phong Nha & Tu Lan Cave System. It's our honor to have you here adventuring the beauty of Mother Nature and your support is appreciated by Oxalis team & the local community. Some of the adventurers have the same thought with you about the more challenging itinerary of Tu Lan Expedition. In some aspects it might, but we're glad you did it! You earn it successfully. It's our honor to have you on the last three expeditions and happy to know you had a wonderful moment of your lifetime with us. Thank you once again and we are looking forward to welcome you back here in the future ;) All the Best, Oxalis Adventure Team
Written June 29, 2017
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Adrian V
Bangkok, Bangkok, Thailand7 contributions
Mar 2017 • Solo
Exceeded expectations on all levels. The caves are amazing, and the various photos online don't do justice to how incredible it is to be kayaking on a river inside a pitch black cave after abseiling into that kayak from a ledge. Positives - guides, tents, food (incredible food), scenery, no mosquitoes. Unexpected parts - there is a LOT of jungle trekking involved (very serious hiking up and down seriously steep hills in true wild jungle using narrow paths). You need to be fit. You WILL get scratched up and bruised. You WILL fall. Your feet will be wet for four days. Take band aids. Take antifungal cream (and use it from day two). Take non waterproof boots that drain (not Goretex) And if it rains, the slippery paths go from hard to outright dangerous. Be prepared. I would recommend this trip as one of the best hikes I've ever done. Finally - invest in a waterproof camera and small Gorillapod, and keep it around your neck. If you have to pack your camera into a dry bag for each swim/rain storm, you will miss out on 80% of the photo opportunities around you.
Written March 29, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hello Adrian, Thank you for joining us on the epic Tu Lan Expedition 4D3N and spent your valuable time to review us on TripAdvisor. Tu Lan Expedition rated 5 out of 6 on Oxalis Adventure Level. This tour is a demanding, challenging journey that adventurers have to trek through a lot of difficult terrain, swim caves to caves, experience things that you might never see before.. In rainy season, the trekking route is quite tough sometimes but since you have our team by your side, you will have nothing to worry about. We take care of you, support you to maintain the safety at its highest level and to enjoy the journey completely. Despite all those challenges, we're glad you made it successfully! We hope to see you back in Phong Nha for another exciting adventure with us in the future! Regards, Oxalis Adventure Team
Written July 3, 2017
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

bdg527
3 contributions
Feb 2017 • Friends
Just completed the 2-night/3-day trekking through the Tu Lan caves with Oxalis. Incredible experience. Our guide, Bamboo, was fantastic. Super knowledgeable about the jungle and the caves, particularly the science behind the formations. Oxalis does a great job of making everything easy so that you can just enjoy the hike. The porters are terrific and the food was delicious at each stop along the way. My only advice...there's a lot of information out there about what shoes to wear but in hindsight the answer is very simple: wear the shoes that Oxalis provides. These Cambodian military boots are perfect for the conditions. Maybe bring a pair of insoles if you'd like. But don't wear your own shoes if you can avoid it. As for clothes, bring ONE set of clothes that you'll wear and re-wear each day (you'll be wet from start to finish no matter what so dry fit is perfect) and ONE set of comfortable and warm clothes to wear at night (these will stay dry in the water-proof bag that the porters carry for you).
Written February 6, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Tu Lan Caving Center (Dong Hoi) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

Frequently Asked Questions about Tu Lan Caving Center

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