Tu Lan Cave in Vietnam (Camping Journey)

Tu Lan cave in Vietnam (Tú Làn) consists of more than 20 caves inside that had been divided into wet (underground) and dry caves. The place was first explored by the British – Vietnam Caving Expedition Team and local people. The only way to explore the caves is to go with a tour, I joined the Wild Tu Lan Explorer Tour for 4days 3nights with Oxalis Adventure. The experience we got was remarkable! the nature and cave formation literally made us in awe 


Wild Tu Lan Explorer 4D3N

Tu Lan Cave in Vietnam

Tours by Oxalis Adventure (no sponsor)

Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam


Briefing at Tan Hoa Office

The staffs picked us up for Tu Lan Cave in Vietnam tour at the homestay in Phong Nha around 8AM to Oxalis Tan Hoa Office. Where we were briefed about all the route we will take on, risks we should be careful and safety

Dangers and Risks:

  • Rough terrains : muddy, rocky, up-down hill
  • Swimming in the cave, River crossing
  • Dehydration
  • Snacks
  • Leeches
  • Stinging plants
Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam


Flat Walk 2.5km

It was raining that day and surely it gonna be (very) dirty. We started the journey around 10AM on 2.5km flat walk through corn and peanut fields, hop on long tail-boat to cross Rao Nan River and continue walking towards Rat Cave

Carrying orange waterproof backpack with drum-box inside, safety helmet with headlamp, gloves, and water bottle – The essential stuff we have to carry by ourselves. The clothes that will use later on 3days camp, the staff will carry for us on secret route to the campsite

Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam
Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam


Rat Cave

Lunch was provided at the entrance of Rat Cave, we got to made our own Bun Mi. Put on safety helmet with headlamp and ready to get into Rat Cave, explore the magnificent stalactites

Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam

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La Ken Valley

Climbed out the cave through the jungle (Stinging plants can made you allergy – gloves, long pants and shirt were highly suggested). We headed on to La Ken Valley, the dirty muddy slippery trekking (I’m glad I had the experienced from Sapa muddy trekking before this)

Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam


Lom Com Mountain

Highlight : Steep and rocky trekking

The toughest challenge of the day was to cross Lom Com Mountain.. we went uphill on the steep and rocky mountain, climbs after climbs (I mean man, it really steep. At that point, I cannot see the finish line) After crossing Lom Com mountain, we start to trek down to Tu Lan Valley


Tu Lan Campsite

Once we heard the waterfall roaring, we knew it was close to arrive at the campsite. We arrived there around 4PM, washed the dirt off, get change and jump into the waterfall, get sauna and taste the yummy food (with happy water!)

Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam
Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam


Ken Cave

We trekked around the river and get into Ken Cave entrance that located next to the waterfall, hop on the big rubber raft to get inside the dark cave

The cave is beautiful by itself, the guide was highly educated and explained all the details about how the cave was formed and still do until these days. We trekked uphill and it was quite slippery to reach the cliff, find our own spot to sit, turn off our head lamp and listen to the cave

The cave was completely dark, but still can hear the water dropping (the cave still forming). Some fishes in the cave were totally transparent that you can see their bones. The sense of sights that they didn’t use for a very long time can made them blind, and that can be the case for some cavemen as well

Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam
Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam


Tu Lan Cave

Highlight : Tight space

The colorful rubber raft took us to Tu Lan Cave from the campsite. A cave that can only reach by rafting or swimming. Climbing up through the small passage, keep your feet firmly on the rocks your hands on the robe and climb up!

The final passage was the tight space that we had to crawl in and here we are!

Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam


Tu Lan cave in Vietnam made me literally in awe.. you know how beautiful and magnificent it is that you have to give the name to represent all the cave system here. I was very impressed and having fun walking around, explore the cave formation detail

We took some good time in here, well it deserved it.. we saw some big spider and frog in the cave (and some saw leeches in the tent!), their color skin were changed to adjust to the environment

Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam
Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam


Crossing The River

We climbed out Tu Lan Cave and crossing the valley through dry passage, cross the river to reach the waterfall

My energy kinda runout, I wished I eat more at lunch. My thought might be too loud and somebody might heard it. After crossing the river, we stopped for some snacks before entering Kim Cave where we will get to swim in the dark cave

Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam


‍Kim Cave

Highlight : Swimming in dark cave, river crossing

In order to reach To Mo Valley (the second campsite), we need to go through Kim Cave by swimming and crossing another river. We re-check our backpack to ensure that it completely sealed, get it tight to our back & lets roll

The robe was attached along the way. We swim in a completely dark cave that we had only head light to guide the way (one of our friends scare of the dark plus you have to swim, she got a little shiver, SA helped her along the way)

We climbed and walked on the small cliffs, get down to swim (because there was no walk way), then got back up, climbing the cliff and down to swim all over again. Finally out to the sunlight and crossed the waterfall by swimming against the stream to reach To Mo Valley

It was fun! literally the highlight of my cave camping experience

Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam
Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam


Song Oxalis Cave

Highlight : A (very) steep hill and tight space

No Pain No Gain.. a cliché quotes that speaks loudly true to its words

In order to reach Song Oxalis Cave, the rare coral calcites formation, the beautiful and most unique one! that located near the top of the mountain. We need to give in a little effort. I mean when I looked ahead of the path we need to take, it’s almost the 180degree climb, that’s how steep it was

My legs keep on screaming that we should go home, my stomach said that you should eat more breakfast too. One of the hardest hike amongs all the Tu Lan cave system

Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam


No doubt, the cave formation was exceptionally unique and charming. We need to climb up/down the stairs, get through the tight space at some points to get through the inner part of the cave. But it all worth it! the tired legs from climbing uphill were suddenly gone, silence

We got to the most inner part of the cave, found our spot and sit with headlamp off, the cave was completely dark and silent. No sound of animals or any drop of water.

In some area there was no way of water to get in and somehow that made the particular parts of the cave stop forming

Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam
Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam

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To Mo Valley and Hung Ton Cave

Highlight : 15m ladder

We rafted from To Mo Valley to the cave to take 15m of ladder, wearing all safety equipment’s with the harness and off we go! We walked through the cave and exit the other side, trekked down the hill to reach Hung Ton Valley

The valley full of rocks climbing, ups and downs. I thought this was over since Song Oxalis Cave. We continued the journey to cross the ‘baby hill’ a little slippery muddy trekking before taking a long-tail boat to cross Rao Nan River, walking another 2.5km back through corn fields to reach Tu Lan Lodge

Our clothes and shoes were SUPER dirty. I don’t even want to touch it to be honest. After arriving at Tu Lan Lodge, I just handed it to the laundry service, like.. please get it clean, please

Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam
Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam
Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam


Tu Lan Cave Camping Food

When we were asked to do feedback survey from the tour, we filled in ‘The Food’ as one of the highlights from the cave camping experience. It was that good, I was so happy not to eat sh*ty meal but the delicious cooked food from the chef that tag along with us instead

After every trekking session I knew for sure, something nice was going to be served

Food in Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam


Tu Lan Camp Site

Tu Lan Valley and To Mo Valley

Both of our campsites were located near the waterfall, provided with the individual tent and blanket, toilet, changing room, sauna, eating area, delicious food, coffee and tea

It was comfortable to be fair, good enough to have a good rest after a long trekking and adventure day. The sauna was THE BEST, especially when you were on Tu Lan Cave Camping that full of swimming and trekking through the rain or after playing in the waterfall

Tent in Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam
Sauna in Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam


Dinner at Local House

After came back from Tu Lan Cave Camping, we bike from Tu Lan Lodge to local house for dinner, talking to them and learn how they live in a daily life basis was a privilege

The house separated into two parts, as they have some flooding in this area (normally in October). They built a floating house to prepare for that case, the second floor roof was empty and was made for extra-storage room, if the flood is coming

A traditional homemade Vietnamese food was absolutely delicious, joyful drinks, friendly and so welcome host, a relive after long trekking days. It was a memorable time

Food in Tu Lan Cave Camping in Vietnam

Traveling to Phong Nha

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Tu Lan Lodge

I love it here..

The lodge is located in the mountainside of Yen Tho village, the modern yet luxury, so comfortable and relaxing, feel like you get really close to the nature. The view overlook landscape of vast grassland with majestic limestone mountains as the backdrop

Tu Lan Lodge Vietnam


Tu Lan Lodge mainly served guests from Oxalis Adventure Tours. A 10 rooms scale prefab house located in a high position, safe from flooding in rainy season and able to get the cool wind in summer

The room separated into 2:1:1 bed room, bath room and outdoor resting

The reward after hiking Tu Lan Cave in Vietnam. I couldn’t ask for more, the place was such a treat after all the adventure that we had been through. it was really hard to get myself checked out in the morning

Tu Lan Lodge Vietnam
Tu Lan Lodge Vietnam

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