Son Doong Cave – a dream destination

Son Doong Cave, located in the heart of the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in Quang Binh province of Central Vietnam, has been named among the five dream destinations in the world by Lonely Planet.
Son Doong Cave – a dream destination ảnh 1A lake inside Son Doong Cave (Source: Axalis Adventures )

Hanoi, (VNA) – Son Doong Cave is located in the heart of the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in Quang Binh province of Central Vietnam. Formed about 2 – 5 million years ago, Son Doong Cave is 150m wide, more than 200m high and almost 9km long.

Son Doong has surpassed the Deer cave in Malaysia’s Gunung Mulu National Park to become the biggest natural cave in the world.

The cave is said to be an impressive site with breathtaking beauty. It is home to many giant stalagmites in strange forms, and even a growing primeval forest along with a fast flowing river.

From an accidental discovery

The finding of the cave is an interest story. In 1991, a local man named Ho Khanh tried to find a shelter when he was caught in the rain in the forest. Khanh sought shelter near a cliff, but then he saw fog flying up from an opening along with big roars inside. Scared by them, KHanh left the place and missed the chance to find the world’s biggest cave.

Son Doong Cave – a dream destination ảnh 2Climbing up the Great Wall of Vietnam inside Son Doong Cave (Source: Oxalis Adventures)

In 2001, an exploration team led by Howard Limbert hired Khanh as a guide for their tour in the locality. KHanh told them about his scary encounter. With his several decades of experience in cave exploration, Limbert thought it might be a very big cave.

But it was not until 2009 and several failed attempts that Khanh and the British Cave Research Association team actually found the Son Doong Cave. It was quite difficult for Khanh to find the cave’s opening, which was deep in jungle in difficult terrains, far away from roads and not on Google Earth. Khanh was also theBritish Cave Research Association person who named the cave.

The discovery of Son Doong on April 5, 2009 shocked the world. It is dubbed the discovery of an underground Everest.

Immediately after Howard Limbert announced the discovery of Son Doong Cave, several major newspapers in the world carried reports about the cave, which the exploration team said to be the world’s biggest.

The cave then saw the arrival of a dozen of filming crews from big media news agencies in the UK, Japan, the US and Germany who wanted to capture the beauty of the massive cave.

Son Doong Cave – a dream destination ảnh 3Cave pearls in Son Doong Cave (Source: Oxalis Adventures) 

A big world inside Son Doong

Even though it is massive, the cave remains almost invisible until you are right in front of its opening, said an explorer.

The entrance into Son Doong is very steep and hard to descent. You then have to follow along a fast flowing underground river to go deeper inside. The massive stone structures inside the cave are beyond any imagination.

A passage section, which is 92m wide, can accommodate a 40-storey building

According to Limbert, the widest section of the cave can allow three big-sized airplanes to fly side by side.

The cave was formed by a river flowing under limestone. In some places, the ceiling collapsed, creating openings known as dolines, allowing foliage plants to grow inside the cave. The explorers named the area the Edam Garden.

Son Doong Cave – a dream destination ảnh 4The night sky seen from inside Son Doong (Source: Axalis Adventures)

Son Doong was named one of the five dream destinations in the world in 2019 by Lonely Planet, a prestigious travel guide magazine

Holding important scientific values, in terms of geology, geomorphology and ancient climate, the cave has been favoured by many scientists and science channels worldwide.

According to an initial study from the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, besides 161 species of flora found inside Son Doong, the cave is home to 300-million-year-old coral fossils which are valuable for the analysis of geological layer changes through times.

Oxalis is the only private company licensed to explore Son Doong. Quang Binh province’s authorities approved tours from now till 2030. Earlier, the licence was only given annually.  

The province requires the tour operator to achieve economic efficiency and ensure tourist safety while promoting Son Doong, a fast-emerging tourist destination.

Due to limited space, registration for Son Doong tours must be made well in advance. According to Oxalis, 570 slots are available for 2020. 

A four-day expedition costs 3,000 USD.

Quang Binh authorities recently increased the number of tourists allowed to visit the cave over a one-year period from 640 to 900. -VNA


See more