We were told it would only take an hour to cycle to The Pub With Cold Beer, located on the edge of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. Perhaps it was only an hour, but in the heat of the Vietnamese summer, every minute seemed to drag on and on. The cycle from the main town of Phong Nha is easy enough at first, flat on a mostly okay road. It is when you get to the turn off for The Pub With Cold Beer that things get a little tricky. Cycling on the rickety bikes supplied free from Easy Tiger becomes a whole new experience once you turn onto the dirt track that eventually leads you to, yes that’s right, cold beer.
Although hot and challenging, the ride is beautiful. Through rice paddies and mountains, we hardly saw another person on the dirt track. Every so often there is a sign pointing you in the direction of The Pub and if anything it makes you peddle a little bit harder.
Finally, as we crossed a bridge, we arrived at the family run Pub With Cold Beer.
It was like an oasis, with hammocks in the shade, fans overhead and amazing views over the valley. We arrived at about 10.30am and were the only ones there. While we had a cold drink and chilled in the hammocks, we decided it was time to order lunch as we had been told it could take up to 2 hours to prepare.
The reason The Pub With Cold Beer is so well known and popular in the region is for it’s true farm-to-table methods. From the chickens to the peanuts they use for their incredible peanut sauce, everything served is home grown. If you order the chicken lunch, ₫200,000 per kilo (AU$11.80) be prepared for the family to ask whether you would like to catch and kill the chicken yourself.
Some opt for this option, while others let the family take care of it. It does seem gruesome and it was hard for us to stomach, but this is probably the most ethical and organic chicken meal we have ever eaten in our lives. It gave us an understanding and perhaps even surprisingly, a sadness when we thought of how we have mindlessly bought mass-farmed chicken in a supermarket. It was an experience that neither of us will forget.
Our chicken lunch was prepared quite quickly and it was delicious. Together we shared a chicken, rice, greens and peanut sauce and washed it down with a few (very cold) beers. We ended up staying at The Pub for 5 hours. Reading, relaxing, drinking, swinging – it had the most chilled out and friendly atmosphere.
If you are in the Phong Nha region, I can’t recommend a visit to The Pub With Cold Beer enough. Even if you don’t opt for the chicken lunch, there are other options on the menu and plenty of seriously cold beer.
Directions: It’s too hard to give directions as this place is seriously in the sticks. Anywhere you stay in Phong Nha will be able to provide you with a map and options on how to get there (bike, scooter, boat, jeep etc)
Tim’s weigh in
I do agree the cycle was challenging at times but I certainly didn’t find it a drag. We actually took a longer route by mistake and the road back from the pub was far easier and a lot shorter. The food was delicious and the beer was cold, get to this pub for one of the best tasting meals around!