Chay Lap is in a word, stunning
However, we want to give our guests more than just coal-black evening skies, spectacular limestone cliffs, a raft of activities and an outpost of serenity on the jig-saw-green patchwork of the valley floor.
We want you to enjoy a real slice of central Vietnam while engaging in what we hope is a rewarding educational experience for all.
2. Rustic Chay Lap
Situated on a peanut and maize farm in central Quang Binh province, Rustic Chay Lap stands beneath the towering limestone cliffs which punctuate the beautiful but seldom visited World Natural Heritage Site of Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park.
While 80 percent of Vietnamese live in the countryside, visitors to Vietnam are rarely given the opportunity to peek beneath the veil of this age-old culture. It is our goal to set a benchmark in ecotourism here that can be replicated throughout the region. In order to do this, we need to continue to show our guests how most Vietnamese actually live, far removed from the tourist hot spots which dot the country.
The beautiful natural surroundings notwithstanding, it’s not the surroundings nor the brick and mortar of villages which make up communities. It’s the people. Here in Chay Lap, it is important to us that you feel welcomed and included. We do this by offering true central Vietnamese hospitality. This is a necessity if we wish to learn as much from you as we hope you learn from us.
The front of the farm rolls out a serene patchwork of green fields which make up the valley floor and nearby Chay Lap Village.
Our homestay represents a slice of traditional life in Vietnam’s central provinces - albeit a rapidly vanishing traditional life. It was built to highlight the cultural, aesthetic and historical realities of the area’s past which are in contrast to the rapidly changing present.
Under the care of Mr. Khai and his family, we offer comfortable and simple accommodations, the opportunity to experience life here with a touchingly-friendly family and a wealth of activities both inside and outside the park.
This is homestay with a difference. You dine in the kitchen and front patio of Mr. Khai’s home and stay under their care, but you sleep in a separate wooden house within their farm compound and enjoy modern comforts, such as your own private bathroom, high quality linen and soft indirect lighting in the interiors.
Mr. Khai’s family encourages their guests to discover rural Vietnam in their own way. You choose the degree of interaction you are comfortable with.
Unlike many of the tourist havens which dot the country, there is a legitimate eagerness here to share our culture and way of life with you, while proving equally as eager to learn of yours.
One way we do this, is through our food. We serve our own locally grown, farm-fresh ingredients for meals that are area specific to the locale. We can also send you off with a lunch pack, prepared and packaged in the traditional way.
Hidden at the doorstep of the park, there are no distractions here, no TVs, radios or telephones, just pure relaxation. This is a spot where time slows down.
3. The traditionnal wooden homes
Inside the traditional wood “Five Dragon” house and under a traditionally – kilned tile roof, nets tumble over large-sized beds with high quality beddings in each of the open access bedroom. Hand-crafted simple furnishings exude presence of yesteryear.
Authenticy runs true throughout the homes and furnishings, crafted by Chay Lap’s artisans.
Elegant simplicity is apparent, and the airy common lounge speaks of light and space. Ceiling fans and wooden beams, which are staples in Vietnamese traditionnal homes, punctuate this openness.
Our large bathrooms were designed with rustic comfort in mind. Guests have the option of either an outdoor rain shower, in homage to the areas’turquoise brooks, or a conventional solar-heated shower. Both feature a stone massage tile floor, perfect for a much-needed cleansing after a day’s hike or bike ride in the forests.
Outside, a front patio allows guests to read a book, contemplate the magnificent surrounding or simply work up the energy for another trip to the park.
4. What to do
Hear the call of the wild and the roar of your hamstrings as you either take your time or destroy yourself and you big-city living on the Ho Chi Minh Road West. The sounds of primates bounce off the stunning limestone cliffs as the newly paved single lane road snakes through one of Vietnam’s most important conservation areas and most important historic trail during the war.
These treks aren’t for the feint of heart. What goes up invariably goes down. When you do you will be thankful!
A less adventurous but equally satisfying bike ride takes you through villages in the areas surrounding the park. See rural Vietnam in the 21st century where old wooden homes and home gardens are being replaced with more practical concrete boxes and modern plantations of pine and acacia. Marvel at the towering spires of new churches that dot the countryside built near rivers.
Stop and chat for a white. The old and the young are equally eager to learn of your culture and way of life as much as you are of theirs.
Just in front of the Rustic Chay Lap visitor center are turquoise water of the Trooc and Chay Rivers. The river gets its distinctive sheen from mineral deposits plowing their way under the park’s limestone peaks. It is said that these waters flow underground all the way from Laos.
From the jetty, paddle your way up the calm waters of the river until you reach the Dark cave. Admire at leisure the majestic limestones from the valley river.
Upstream, explore the Nuoc Mooc Ecotrail of the park, and swim in the cool waters of the spring.
If you prefer not to paddle yourself, authentic wooden boats steered by area residents will take you there.
Get into the thick of it with a trek down a Ho Chi Minh Trail used to ferry soldiers down south. The jungle is lush and the going tough. Only the fit and adventurous are encouraged to tackle the very demanding wildlife and nature watching trails.
These special interest limited treks are arranged on a case-by-case basis with national park rangers. The say when and where you go. It could be to a little visited cave, a thick and ancient forest, or an ethnic minority village. Get inspired by Vietnam’s largest forest and least explored park.
We’re not just talking about the famous Phong Nha cave whose multi-colored lights you can enjoy while sitting from your boat. Obviously, you can, if you want to relive your fairytale fantasy along with the thousands of others who wish to see the same.
Far from the maddening crowd, the world’s largest cave was recently discovered in Phong Nha- Ke Bang. This doesn’t come as too much of a surprise considering the plethora of cave systems discovered earlier on. In fact, the park is made up of a complex web of caves, with many unexplored caverns and underground rivers.
To date, no other caves have been developed for tourism, but adventurous treks can be arranged to the caves’ mouth on a case-by-case basis with the national park. Many caves derive their attraction from being inside untouched forests representing a reward after a torturous trek. Unfortunately, unless you’re on a scientific exploration mission, it will be tough to convince the nationnal park to let you inside these caves.
There are, on the other hand, caves outside the national park, which the communities will gladly show you.
A vacation is meant to relax and rejuvenate. You can sit back and enjoy the farm, the home garden, the food and being with the people. Sit back and relax on the deck by the peaceful Tro Oc River, and pass the time away with your favorite drink or book.
Really, need we say more?