I - The Son Doong Cave facts
This cave has a beautiful stalactite system with images of the "Garden of Eden" inside a cave, or a collection of thousands-of-year-old "pearls". Pearls in the cave are actually formed by calcium crystals which have enveloped small grains of sand for tens of thousands of years. This priceless "pearl collection" is located near the Garden of Eden, in a dried out rooftop lake. The discovery of numerous caves including Son Doong cave has also made Phong Nha-Ke Bang national park a kingdom of caves in the world.
One of the unique features of Son Doong is its own diverse ecosystem. As it hadn’t been touched by humans ever before, this biggest cave in Vietnam has a whole primeval forest with rich vegetation in it. Therefore, even going deep underground, visitors can encounter very strange creatures having ever existed.
More specifically, you will have moments startled by the occasional monkey sneaking into the cave to find food.
As it is so large and untouched by humans,the cave even has its own climate… Yes, a different climate inside a cave! Because of the temperature difference between the air inside and outside, there are constant hovering clouds of mist inside the cave. The weather here can be divided into three seasons - From February to April, it is cool and not so humid. From May to August, the weather becomes hotter and more humid. From September to January, there are frequent heavy rains and a lot of floods.
Therefore, the perfect time for trekking in the cave is from February to April when the weather is cool and mild, though you still need to bring along some trekking jackets as it can be quite cold at night. From May to August, the expedition can be more arduous and challenging. From September to January, the cave will be closed.
Immediately after Dr. Howard Limbert, the head of the expedition team of the British Royal Society announced a new cave in Vietnam, Son Doong cave, and confirmed it as the largest cave in the world, many major newspapers such as Daily Mail, Telegraph, The Sun, Breitbart and Newser simultaneously posted on the cave.
This giant cave in Vietnam also welcomes dozens of film crews of famous media companies from the UK, Germany, Japan, and the US to promote this cave image all over the world.
More impressively, the cave appeared in a music video called “Alone, Pt. II” by the famous EDM artist Alan Walker and American singer Ava Max, which received 2.4 million views in 22 hours after releasing.
In November 2014, the People's Committee of Quang Binh province held a press conference to announce the project of a Southeast Asia-scale cable car in Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park, representing the investor of the project, is the Sungroup corporation. The cable car is projected to be 10.6 km long, consisting of 30 cable pylons, with stations located at Phong Nha, Thien Duong, Tra Ang streams, and the end point is about 300 meters from the cave gate. If the project is deployed, every day, there will be about 8,000 people to visit Son Doong and leave bad consequences for the ecosystem there. Immediately, the project was vehemently opposed.
II - How to get to Son Doong cave?
1 - By air
2 - By train
3 - By bus or taxi
All above means of transport can only bring you to Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park as the farthest point. From Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, you can only go on foot to Son Doong.
Below is an example of how you can get to this hidden cave in Vietnam from Ho Chi Minh city:
To travel to the cave from Ho Chi Minh city, you need to take a flight from Tan Son Nhat Airport and depart in Dong Hoi. Then, you take a bus (usually provided by your tour service) to the Kilometer 39 of Ho Chi Minh road.
From there, you will start walking about 1 hour down the mountain. After an additional half hour of walking along the stream at the foot of the mountain, you will stop at Ban Doong, where the Bru Van Kieu ethnic minority village is living separately in the deep forest, a landmark not to be missed in the journey. Here you will have the opportunity to learn and discover the unique characteristics of their cultural life during the break and enjoy lunch right inside the village.
After lunch and rest, you will continue walking along the stream for about 2 more hours in the midday sun with very little shade. You will often have to wade through streams so be prepared for shoes and pants that can get wet throughout the day. In summer, spring water will flood to the knees. You should not wear waterproof shoes (such as Gore Tex shoes) because it will hold water and moisture inside the shoes causing discomfort.
Go all the way to the door of Hang En, home to tens of thousands of swallows. Here, you will be provided with a headlight, and continue to walk about 20-30 minutes over the rocks to reach the first camping site inside En Cave. Son Doong is located in Son Trach commune, Bo Trach district, Quang Binh province, Vietnam. There is currently no road to the cave, you will need to walk for about 6 hours for a distance of 10km from Ho Chi Minh trail to the mouth of the great wall of vietnam.
III - Exploring the largest cave in Vietnam
1 - The Cave’s Entrance
2 - The Paws of Foot
3 - Fossil Hallway
4 - Campsite Number 1
5 - Doline 1
On the other side of Ho Sut Mot, there is a large cave called "Rat Run", from here you can see the whole scene of the Ho Sut Mot and if you're lucky enough you can see the sun's rays through the hole. This place looks so spectacular that it has also become the symbolic beauty of the largest cave in the world. This is an ideal place to capture the most beautiful Son Doong images to keep memories of the world's biggest cave discovered in Vietnam.
6 - Doline 2
To get to this place, visitors will have to climb a rocky hill with natural steps rising higher, like the steps leading to the Garden of Eden. The path is filled with ferns and small plants. The leaves of these trees rise straight towards the crater to catch the rare rays of sunlight. At the center of Ho Sut Hai, there are many taller trees such as banana trees and forest trees.
7 - Campsite number 2
8 - The Great Wall of Viet Nam
IV - Son Doong Cave tours exploring
1 - Preparation
+ Some long-sleeved and light-dry trekking clothes for 4 days
+ 1-2 shorts and t-shirts to wear at campsite (bring long-sleeved clothes during the cold months)
+ A warm sweater and a light windbreaker (from February to April)
+ High quality hiking boots with good grip on rough terrain
+ 1 flip-flops / sandals, towels, wet paper, water bottles, portable flashlights for use at the camping site
+ 4-5 pairs of long, thick socks (do not wear short socks or waterproof socks)
+ Electrolyte rehydration capsules, essential medications, antifungal powder for feet, sprays against mosquitoes, insects, sunscreen and hats.
+ Medium-sized backpack for carrying items used along the way
+ Personal items: underwear, hygiene items, personal medicine, anti-foot bandages (women should wear additional toiletries, even in case of backup)
+ Camera, phone,...
2 - Journey into Son Doong cave trip
Day 1: Ban Doong, Hang En
To reach Son Doong cave, the only entrance is through Hang En, so the schedule for Son Doong includes exploring and camping for one night in Hang En. The bus will take you from your accommodation to the starting point in the National Park to explore Hang En. From there, you will start to walk downhill to enter the dense forest of Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park, passing a rocky slope about 350m high and quite rugged. It is followed by a half-hour walk through the forest and wading through many rivers and streams, along the big stream is Ban Doong, a small village of Bru Van Kieu ethnic minority community.
Then, you stop to have lunch at the village and learn about life here. After that, continue walking for about 20 minutes towards the big river and Hang En gate and enter the cave along a vein of an underground river, continue to climb through the large blocks of rock stacked on top of each other to reach the campsite. From this position you can see the huge cave entrance that allows sunlight to enter the cave, overlooking the panoramic view of the campsite below.
Each person receives his or her tent and can swim in the clear blue lake next to the camp if desired. Then you enjoy your dinner, relax and regain energy before the journey to conquer Son Doong Cave the next morning.
Any visitor who cannot complete one of the first day's sections easily will have to return to Phong Nha and be not allowed to continue the trip. The tour guide team will be the one who makes the decision to ensure safety for you and the team.
Day 2: Cua Hang – Bai Trai So Mot
In the morning, the team will explore deeper in Hang En and follow the back door of Hang En to proceed to the cave.
Group will have lunch before fastening the safety belt and climbing down to the cave, the security team is always on hand to assist you. As soon as you step down the steps inside the cave, the majesty and the enormous size of Son Doong will make you speechless. With a large capacity of 40,000 lumens, you can admire the magical scenery with the natural lake right below the cave and surrounded by countless beautiful stalactites.
From here you continue to cross the underground river, climbing over large rocky slopes and sand hills to the "Khoi Ban Chan Cho'' area. About 4:00 PM, you will arrive at the first campsite of Son Doong Cave, from which you can look to the Ho Sut Mot dimly in the distance. If the weather is good, you can visit the fossil corridor, or swim in the nearby underground river before returning to the campsite. At the camp, there are toilets, changing tents for personal hygiene and finally you can enjoy a delicious dinner.
Please note that there will be no bathing facilities at this campsite.
On the third day, there will be quite a lot of rock climbing sections, wriggling through the arch of the small cave to reach Ho Sut Mot/"Vong Khung Long" - a prominent destination of the Son Doong exploration journey.
Continue going deep and climbing ropes through some steep rocks to reach the other side of the Ho Sut Mot. From here the scenery becomes spectacular and an ideal place to capture the beauty of the world's largest cave in Vietnam. If you are lucky, you will be able to admire the sun's rays shining through the sinkhole into the cave. Stop for lunch by the beautiful underground lakes.
After lunch, you will climb over the rocky slope to the "Vuon Dia Dang" in the Ho Sut Hai, from here you can overview the forest directly below. After exploring this special forest, the team will take a little rest at the second camp and continue to visit the dark cave to learn the unique cave creatures such as blind spiders, blind fish, termites and other species and insects and admiring the jade and countless stalactites masterpieces. Then, you go back to the camp for dinner and rest, ending the third day.
You can wear a pair of dry shoes throughout the day. Also, there's no place for you to take a bath at this campsite on this 3rd day.
Day 4: Buc Tuong Viet Nam – Cua Ra – Chay Lap
Everyone will wear a safety belt to prepare to conquer the Buc Tuong Viet Nam, one of the most dramatic and exciting Son Doong expedition activities.
Safety team will directly instruct climbing skills, monitoring and controlling safety belts to ensure safety during climbing. To reach the foot of the wall you will take a boat on the underground lake, but if the lake runs out of water you can walk through the fairly slippery muddy path. At the foot of the wall is a steel ladder about 18 meters high, you will climb this ladder with a safety belt. After climbing the ladder, you will move to climbing the rope about 35m to the top of the Vietnam Wall.
This is a risky challenge but you can completely conquer it thanks to the support of the safety team. After lunch, you will leave the cave and cross the forest to return to the road where the Son Doong cave adventure ends.
3 - What to pay attention to?
During your trip, it is essential that you keep the environment clean and protect the sight of the cave.
ALWAYS travel in groups. It is best to always follow the instructions of your tour provider at all times.
NEVER forget the safety rules.
4 - Recommended tours
And again, Oxalis Adventure is the only tour provider allowed to provide the tour:
Travel agency: OXALIS
Length of trip: 4 days 3 nights
Price: 3030 USD
Contact: (+84) 232 3677 678
V - FAQs
>> YES. During wading, the stream is only knee high, there is no mandatory swimming. If you need to swim, you will be equipped with a life jacket and instructions to ensure safety.
2 - Is a health check rigorous?
>> NOT TOO RIGOROUS, If you can climb a 10-storey building without heavy breathing or dizziness. When signing up for a tour, you will have to declare your health so that the support staff has the best plan to support you.
3 - Is it difficult to have personal hygiene?
>> NO. At each camping site, the tour provider will prepare a composting toilet (using rice husks to remove odors and decompose quickly). They will also provide hand gel to use before meals and after going to the toilet to avoid infection.
4 - Is there a place to take a bath in the cave?
>> YES.. For the first and last night, you can take a bath at Hang En campsite. There are bathing places inside Son Doong camps but you have to go further to have water.
5 - Can I join a group if I buy the tour alone?
>> YES. With 10 tourists per tour maximum, you can join the group if traveling alone when registering with the tour company.
6 - Where to eat and drink?
>> The tour company will provide a diverse menu for visitors. If you want to bring more food, you must notify the tour company.
7 - If I don’t like to join a group tour, can I discover the cave on my own?
Vietnam Son Doong cave is seen as the Great Wall of Vietnam will not let you down when taking an adventurous journey to here. Other amazing caves in Vietnam for an adventurous exploration in Vietnam.