Before we were faced with the pandemic and having to #STFAH my friend, Josh White, had written a guest blog post. He’d actually researched, tried and tested the subject to make sure he could give you all some accurate information. This was before he left Phong Nha in March but now that Phong Nha is starting to open again you might find this useful. Below is Josh’s Phong Nha swimming pool reviews based on his need to be able to swim lengths for exercise, I’ve also added a few more choices for those of you who just fancy a dip on a hot day.
1. Nguyen Shack Lake Hill (Eco Resort)
The imposing sail in this boat shaped pool is visible on the approach as you cycle round the lake. With 22m of deep pool (turning on a step 40cm below the surface) Nguyen Shack Lake Hill offers an opportunity for swimming lengths but also getting the perfect shot “for the gram”. Great food, affordable drinks and views across the secluded lake complete the package.
✓ Swimming lengths
2. Phong Nha Eco Mountain Farmstay
Near the gateway to the national park, Phong Nha Eco Mountain Farmstay (yes it really is that much of a mouthful) offers 16m of swimmable pool (with lanes). Relaxation areas on the sides of the pools mean if some of the group just want to cool off with a Saigon beer they’re catered for.
✓ Honorary mention
3. Karst Villas
A short cycle or ride away from Phong Nha Karst Villas offers a stunning view of a setting sun behind the Hollywood sign. The photos speak for themselves.
✓ Sunset views
4. Phong Nha Farmstay
Further out of town again, Ben and Bich’s first business in the area still comes up trumps. Views across paddy fields and with great food and extensive wine menu mean this is a superb option for staying way past sunset.
✓ Sunset views
5. Victory Road Villas
Phong Nha’s premium accommodation, Victory Road Villas, has a secluded pool but is also the closest pool to town in this list. Happy hour and a half is an ideal time to visit with BOGOF cocktails, beers and spirits.
✓ Cocktails by the pool
6. Restful River Bungalows
A lesser known about option for getting away from the crowds, offers good food, cheap drinks, and lovely accommodation, along with great views across the river.
✓ Hidden secret swimming (not many kids)
7. Ho Khanh’s Homestay
Home to a newly built slide into the river, this homestay, owned by the first man to discover Hang Son Doong, is great for groups looking to have a laugh in the sun, with cold drinks and vegan food delivery.
✓ Something a little different
(Photo by Adam Spillane)
I also added more pools to visit which are more suitable for families of all ages as well as groups, see below:
8. Jungle Boss
Set in the Jungle Boss homestay with it’s own bar this is a great place to cool off with a beer or gin and tonic. The pool is deep so make sure you can swim.
✓ Pool parties
9. Sy’s Homestay
A little out of Phong Nha this has a chilled vibe and is situated in the rice paddies.
✓Great hospitality and scenery
10. Heritage by Night
Right in town and happy to let you swim if you are buying food or drink, if not check the fee for a swimming beforehand. It’s a decent sized pool with views of the mountain.
✓ Central location
11. Pepper House
One of the old favourites and a lovely family feel to the place. The pool has shallow and deep with a bridge across and seats in alcoves to enjoy a beer.
12. Lake House
Located on the main highway and is a nice place to chill out and admire the lake views. The pizzas are pretty good too if you’ve worked up an appetite.
✓ Lake views
13. Thao Nguyen Homestay
Bang in the centre of town on the main drag. Ideal for families of all ages too.
(Photo from Thao Nguyen Homestay Facebook)
This place is going out of town a little so is very quiet and has lovely river views.
✓ River views
There are lots of homestays in Phong Nha and I’ve not yet been in all of the swimming pools available. Maybe I will be able to try some more this summer.