Son Doong: The World's Largest Cave

Discover the hidden jungle inside the cave

By Quang Binh Tourism Department

Quang Binh Tourism Board, Oxalis Adventure

HE Ext 15 by Oxalis AdventureQuang Binh Tourism Department

The discovery of the Son Doong Cave

In 1990, the Son Doong cave entrance was first discovered by a local forestman named Ho Khanh. As he approached he noticed clouds billowing out of the entrance, and could hear the sounds of a river raging from somewhere inside the cave. When he could feel a strong wind also blowing out from the cave, he decided to move on without further inspection.

Son Doong Cave - 31 by Ryan DeboodtQuang Binh Tourism Department

After many failed attempts, they began to think this elusive cavern might remain lost in the jungle forever more. In 2008 while out on another food gathering trip, Ho Khanh found the mysterious opening again and studiously took note of the path on how to get there.

Son Doong Cave - 18 by Jason SpethQuang Binh Tourism Department

Later, Ho Khanh, accompanied by Howart and Deb - two members of the Royal British Cave Association, who were in Phong Nha at that time, conducting searches and exploring caves in the area, tried to rediscover the entrance. However, since the first discovery was contingent, Ho Khanh could not remember the exact location of the cave entrance.

Son Doong Cave - 41 by Ryan DeboodtQuang Binh Tourism Department

River
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After many failed attempts, they began to think this elusive cavern might remain lost in the jungle forever more. In 2008 while out on another food gathering trip, Ho Khanh found the mysterious opening again and studiously took note of the path on how to get there. In 2009 he led Howard, Deb and a team of professionals back to the cave for the first expedition to enter what would later become known as Hang Son Doong, or ‘Mountain River Cave’.

Stalagmite at base of 1st doline by Oxalis AdventureQuang Binh Tourism Department

After further research they claimed Son Doong to be the largest cave in the world. Other spectacular features make Son Doong an amazing place; underground rivers, huge formations, dolines or skylights, ancient fossils, unique species of fish and insects, plants and trees inside the cave.

Son Doong Cave - 25 by Jason SpethQuang Binh Tourism Department

Two large rivers, Khe Ry and Rao Thuong, join together to form Son Doong Cave. The cave follows a large fault line 100m wide, which contributes to the huge size of the passages. While the Phong Nha Ke Bang limestone is around 400 million years old, Son Doong Cave limestone is less than 3 million years old.

Hang Son Doong 1Quang Binh Tourism Department

The cave has two skylights, which allow daylight into the cave. This enables the unusual formations like Phytokarst to develop, and also plants and trees to grow inside the cave. Spectacular sunbeams are often seen at the first doline.

Son Doong Cave - 16 by Jason SpethQuang Binh Tourism Department

Mist and clouds usually form in the large cave passages and rise up to the dolines. An incredible place for photography, the huge size of the passage, and the light from the dolines enables everyone to record some memories.

Doline 1 timelapseQuang Binh Tourism Department

Son Doong Cave - 14 by Jason SpethQuang Binh Tourism Department

There's enough space for an entire block of skyscrapers

An entire block of skyscrapers with that height? Can you imagine that? Son Doong Cave is a truly phenomenal place. At almost 9km long with sections reaching up to 200m tall and 160m wide, Son Doong amazes everyone with its extraordinary size and beauty. With a total measured volume of 38.5 million cubic metres, this comfortably surpasses Deer Cave in Malaysia, which was considered to be the previous record holder. Stalagmites up to 80m high have also been surveyed, the tallest ever encountered.

Son Doong Cave - 12 by Jason SpethQuang Binh Tourism Department

Explore the tropical jungle growing inside the cave

This cave will continue to amaze you. The ceiling collapsed hundreds of thousands of years ago forming gigantic windows which allow sunlight to penetrate into the darkness. This explains the lush tropical jungle, tall tropical trees, palms and ferns. Where the ceiling collapsed, forming what we call dolines you may be able to witness the spectacular natural sunbeams. These shine into the cave at particular times of the year, and if you are lucky, you may be there to see it. These scenes are so surreal that no words or photographs are enough; you need to see to believe it!

Climb on the great wall by Oxalis AdventureQuang Binh Tourism Department

Find the underground river and 'The Great Wall of Vietnam

Son Doong has a large underground river, and two river crossings. The final achievement whilst exploring Son Doong Cave is to climb the 90-meter-high calcite wall named ‘The Great Wall of Vietnam’.

Great wall of Vietnam 4Quang Binh Tourism Department

Camping in the cloud - 1 by Oxalis AdventureQuang Binh Tourism Department

The cave is so huge that it even has its own climate

Son Doong Cave should be considered one of the world’s most unique caves. The huge size of the passage allows clouds to build up from the underground river. These rise up through the giant passages, offering visitors an extraordinary subterranean experience.

Hang Son Doong 5Quang Binh Tourism Department

Son Doong Cave - 19 by Jason SpethQuang Binh Tourism Department

The Son Doong expedition

Son Doong Cave expedition tour was officially put into operation in 2013, with a roadmap safely consulted by experts of the Royal British Cave Association. Visitors can experience the feeling inside of the world's largest cave between magnificent stalactites and the most mesmerizing scenery on the planet in the natural dolines inside the cave. In order to participate in the world's largest cave expedition, visitors must meet physical conditions, forest trekking experiences, and able to conquer all types of terrain in the cave. All constructions for Son Doong expedition tourism are censored and equipped with high-end materials, minimizing the impact on the cave floor; ensure the highest level of conservation. All exploratory equipment including lights, safety helmets, safety belts, ropes or safety pins are imported and checked regularly by members of the Royal British Cave Association, suitable for use in terrain & environmental exploration. Only a maximum of 1,000 people are allowed to explore the Son Doong Cave every year from February to August. The expedition cannot be done in the remaining time because weather conditions do not allow.

Sunbeam Hang EnQuang Binh Tourism Department

Son Doong Cave - 20 by Jason SpethQuang Binh Tourism Department

Son Doong Cave - 13 by Jason SpethQuang Binh Tourism Department

Doline 2 timelapseQuang Binh Tourism Department

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