Discovered quite recently, the very beautiful cave of Tham Phay was quickly nicknamed the Son Doong of the North, in reference not only to its geology but also to its beauty
Tham Phay is for experienced hikers © Mr Linh's adventures
Location of Tham Phay Cave
From a rather technical access, Tham Phay cave
belongs to the Ba Be National Park
, Bac Kan Province. More precisely in the village of Na Slai, located in the commune of Hoang Tri. Going deep into the forest bordering the lake of Ba Be, it takes 4 hours of trek before being at the entrance of the cave.
Tham Phay, a unique jungle cave, crossed by a river
If the comparison with Son Doong
, the largest cave in the world, can make you smile, Tham Phay nevertheless presents a breathtaking beauty, while having unique geological and exomorphic characteristics. We will easily forgive it this coquetry to compete with Son Doong! The funny thing is that Tham Phay, in the dialect of the local Tay ethnic group, has the meaning of “Fire Cave”… Surprising for a heavily flooded underground system!
is probably the result of volcanic eruptions associated with the tectonics of limestone mountains crossed by underground rivers. Add the action of erosion, combined with slowly dripping limestone water droplets set over millions of years and you get the impressive spectacle of Tham Phay.
Getting to Tham Phay Cave
The easiest way is to enjoy a stay on the shores of Ba Be lake, a pleasant bushy getaway from Hanoi. Mr Linh’s Adventures
having the exclusivity of the visits, any traveler will be in good hands.
Be aware, however, that this unique submerged underground system in the jungle is located about 2 km from the center of the commune of Hoang Tri, district of Ba Be, Bac Kan Province. Access requires walking in the deep forest, climbing mountains, crossing rivers. The track can sometimes be dangerous, you have to cross private rice fields, take a bamboo bridge… But finally, regardless of the dangers and difficulties, the pure landscape of the mountains and forests of the village of Vang – the starting point of the expedition – exerts on the adventurous walkers a fascination at all times, making them forget all fatigue, as they walk towards Tham Phay
The cave is located halfway up a high rocky mountain. Hidden in a particularly wild terrain, the entrance is difficult to spot.
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Tham Phay is an hidden gem off the beaten path quite hard to spot © Mr Linh's adventures
Tham Phay, an underground adventure
The entrance to the cave is marked by stone blocks with the appearance of giant dinosaur teeth, under which flows a fairly wide stream, a few tens of meters long, for a depth, in some places, of about 1.5 meters. All in a setting of yellow and white stalactites with hypnotic silhouettes, very beautiful and a little mysterious. Here, everything is only stalactites and stalagmites with fascinating shapes, like nowhere else then after 1 km, the cave splits into two branches, a branch on the left penetrates deep into the mountainside, the second branch on the right sinks into the heart of the mountain.
The deeper you go into the cave, the colder the air gets. The water under the feet is cold and flowing quickly, and more and more strange stalactites emerge from the darkness. It sometimes becomes necessary to bend low to cross, there are like silk threads, but stone, falling, a phenomenon that very few caves have; we will also see many cracks in the walls, which create small waterfalls.
The length of the cave is estimated at 5 - 6 km and it should be known that during the flood season, the stream near the entrance to the cave flows so quickly that it floods the bridge, making access very dangerous. In the cave, water can rise at any time, flooding up to the ceiling of the cave.
If you want to conquer Tham Phay, do not think that you just need to take your backpack, only those who have the heart brave enough and those who are carefully prepared are strong enough to explore this fairy cave. If you have the strength and courage, then on the way back, like so many others before you, you will tell that this place is like Son Doong’s sister, a jungle cave crossed by a river and with a lush and unique ecosystem.
Tham Phay offers a unique system of stalactites © Mr Linh's adventures
Tham Phay, shall we go?
Answer: it’s a big YES!
We are not going to lie: Son Doong is exceptional and grandiose. And very expensive. And far away, whether from Hanoi or Saigon. Equally spectacular and offering memorable caving, Tham Phay poses as a formidable challenger of attractions and charms. The site is rather intended for experienced hikers, but the fabulous setting of the Ba Be National Park with its peaceful lake of the same name are there to welcome in all serenity anyone who would not feel like crawling underground.
Tham Phay is the new Son Doong!