Son Doong is an incredible natural wonder located in the province of Quang Binh, Vietnam. Recently discovered in 1991, it is currently the largest known cave in the world. A visit to Son Doong promises an awe-inspiring experience that you will never forget.
1. Overview of Son Doong Cave
1.1. Where is Son Doong Cave?
Son Doong is located in Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park, Quang Binh province, Vietnam. It lies close to the country's border with Laos and is part of an underground system that links over 150 Vietnam caves.
1.2. History of Son Doong cave in Vietnam
- Formation: 2 to 5 million years ago, river water flowed through a limestone area buried along a fault and eroded it into a huge underground tunnel, where parts of the ceilings fell to form holes and become Son Doong's cave arch today.
- Discovery: Son Doong was chanced on in 1991 by Ho Khanh, a local looking for a place to take shelter from the rain while going through the forest. But his role in its discovery did not stop there. When the British Cave Royal Association (BCRA) came to Quang Binh in 2007, he reported his findings and accompanied them in looking for the cave. He could not remember its exact location but continued looking for it on his own after they left to eventually lead Howard and Deb Limbert of BCRA to it in 2009.
1.3. How big is Son Doong Cave?
With a length of nearly 9 kilometers and a volume of roughly 38.5 million cubic meters, Son Doong is recognized as the largest natural cave in the world. Its highest cave arch is 200 meters high and its maximum width is 150 meters.
To visualize just how big the cave is, imagine fitting a 40-storey building in it and 15,000 Olympic swimming pools!
It is 5 times the size of other caves nearby, including Hang En Cave, which is the third largest cave in the world.
1.4. Remarkable world records of Son Doong Cave Vietnam
Son Doong was certified by the Guinness World Records, the World Record Association, and the World Records Union as the largest cave in the world. The cave was also recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
2. TOP 5 must-see natural wonders inside Son Doong Cave
2.1. The world’s largest natural cave
As a UNESCO-recognized site, Son Doong is one of the most captivating natural wonders on Earth. Exploring it requires some effort since you will need to trek through forests, cross rivers, and climb steep hills.
However, the inside is a surreal underground paradise filled with diverse wildlife and pristine natural formations like stunning dolines, stalactites, and stalagmites that were formed millions of years ago.
2.2. The natural “Great Wall” of Vietnam
This is the highest stalagmite in Son Doong's many skyscraping flowstone walls. Reaching almost 100 meters high, the wall stands as an impressive natural masterpiece.
You can take up the challenge of conquering the stalagmite to exit Son Doong, which will certainly be an unforgettable feat. However, you need to equip yourself with the necessary gear and follow the safety instructions.
2.3. The breathtakingly diverse ecosystem
Son Doong is a stunning subterranean world with lush vegetation and unique flora and fauna. As you traverse the cave’s labyrinth, you will be able to witness nature thriving in some of the most unexpected places. It is both a humbling and awe-inspiring experience, reminding you of the powerful forces of nature and the resilience of life.
2.4. The enormous stalagmite and stalactite system
Part of Son Doong's allure comes from the enchanting stalagmite and stalactite system in the cave. Not only is it strikingly beautiful, it also tells the story of the cave's formation, with droplets of mineral-rich water slowly accumulating over millions of years. With formations reaching 70 to 80 meters high, the stalagmites and stalactites in Son Doong are truly awe-inspiring.
2.5. The wondrous cave pearls
Another unique sight inside Son Doong is the cave pearls. These are glossy formations formed by the concentration of calcium salts in the water dripping from the ceiling to the floor of the cave. Although you cannot touch them, you can feast your eyes and take photos of them.
3. Best things to do in Son Doong Cave Quang Binh Vietnam
3.1. Camping in one of the world’s most beautiful caves
To fully explore Son Doong, you can camp inside overnight. There are two viable sites on the edges of the sinkholes, so you can sleep under the stars and wake up to warm sunbeams. It is definitely something you want to try at least once in your life.
3.2. Swimming in the underground lake and river
There is nothing quite like splashing and floating in Son Doong's rivers and lakes after trekking for a while. The water is clean and cool for you to enjoy the most relaxing and refreshing experience. However, it is important that you follow the instructions of the guides here. In some areas, the water can flow very fast, making it dangerous to swim in.
3.3. Take Instagrammable photos with breathtaking backdrops
Son Doong offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the wonders of nature in all their splendor. And don’t forget to pose in front of the towering calcite speleothems and otherworldly rock formations to take home your mesmerizing photos.
If you do not like taking photos of yourselves, just capture the amazing moments of nature, like when the sun shines through the sinkholes of the cave or when the misty clouds envelop the flourishing greenery.
4. A quick guide to Son Doong Cave in Vietnam for first-time visitors
4.1. How to get to Son Doong cave?
It is possible to get to Son Doong’s entrance from Son Trach town, which is 50 kilometers north of Dong Hoi city. But you can only enter the cave for exploration via a Son Doong tour. The tour will provide transportation for you from Dong Hoi to Phong Nha in the form of a 40-minute ride.
4.2. When is the best time to visit Son Doong Cave?
You can take a Son Doong cave tour anytime between January and August:
- January - March: The weather is slightly chilly but not foggy, so you can fully admire the grandeur inside the cave and take beautiful clear photos.
- April - May: This is when the seasons are changing, so the sun is not harsh and there are few downpours. You can trek without worrying about the weather.
- June - August: It is much hotter in Son Doong during this period. However, the heat makes wading in the cave's cool streams even more refreshing.
4.3. All things you need to know about Son Doong cave tour
The only tour operator licensed to take visitors to Son Doong is Oxalis Adventure, so you should book their tour, which lasts for 6 days and 5 nights. The price of a tour is a little over 70,000,000 VND, making it the most expensive tour in Vietnam.
However, for a surreal once-in-a-lifetime experience, it is worth every dime. Plus, the price already covers the services of a technical advisor, guide, safety assistant team, accommodation, food, and equipment.
Tours are available from January to August, but there is a limit on the number of visitors each year. You will need to make a booking early for a chance to come to the cave.
Son Doong cave tour is a challenging trekking expedition, where you will cross rivers and scramble through rocky terrains. So, you should have a certain level of fitness to enjoy the journey. Visitors lacking adequate fitness or having health conditions may not be eligible for the tour. Also, note that you need to be at least 18 years old.
In addition to exploring the inside of the cave, the tour also includes visiting Doong Village and especially Hang En Cave, where a Peter Pan movie was filmed.
4.4. Notes for visiting Son Doong Cave Quang Binh province
To ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable time exploring Son Doong, don’t forget to bring:
- Trekking clothes: These should be light, quick-drying, and not too thin. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants are recommended to protect yourself from branches, insect bites, etc.
- Trekking shoes and socks: To venture through the mixed terrain comfortably and safely, you need a good pair of trekking shoes. Shoes with rugged soles that drain easily are your best bet.
Your socks should be thick but breathable and come up to your calves. Bring at least 4 to 5 pairs to change if needed.
- Trekking backpack: You will need one to carry the helmet and headlamp given to you by Oxalis. It will be handy for stashing other personal items as well.
- Camping clothes: Staying at the campsite, you want to be in something comfortable. Consider shorts and shirts, unless you come in the cold months.
If you come between December and March, bring long pants and long-sleeved shirts. It is also not a bad idea to have a light jacket or coat.
- Camping items: Sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, towels, and foot-drying powder are things you should bring along to have the best experience at Son Doong. You should also carry wet wipes and dry shampoo, as there are no bathing facilities near the campsites.
With knowledgeable guides leading the way and breathtaking sights around every corner, it is easy to see why Son Doong has become one of Vietnam’s most popular destinations. Besides, there are many other famous tourist hubs that you can visit in Vietnam, such as Phu Quoc, Hoi An, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Ha Long, etc.
At these destinations, you can stay at Vinpearl’s hotels and resorts to enjoy the best hospitality. With an extensive selection of properties to choose from, you should have no issue finding the perfect place to make the most out of your time in Vietnam.
- Vinpearl Phu Quoc
- Vinpearl Nha Trang
- Vinpearl Hoi An
- Vinpearl Resort & Spa Da Nang
- Vinpearl Resort & Spa Ha Long
These hotels and resorts offer a variety of amenities, from spa treatments to kids’ clubs. You can dine lavishly at the restaurant and unwind with a sip in the bar. There are also many activities that you can try, like golf, tennis, and water sports. Whether you are looking for a relaxing trip or an activity-packed vacation, Vinpearl will promise you a good time.
>>> Book rooms in Vinpearl Phu Quoc, Vinpearl Nha Trang, Vinpearl Hoi An, Vinpearl Resort & Spa Da Nang, Vinpearl Resort & Spa Ha Long for an exceptional experience in Vietnam!
Son Doong is the largest cave in the world, with spectacular formations and an otherworldly beauty that simply must be seen. Imagine standing amidst the massive rock formations and underground rivers to take in all the sights and sounds. What are you waiting for? Add it to your itinerary to witness firsthand just how breathtaking nature can be!
>>> Book rooms in Vinpearl Phu Quoc, Vinpearl Nha Trang, Vinpearl Hoi An, Vinpearl Resort & Spa Da Nang, Vinpearl Resort & Spa Ha Long to enjoy top-rated accommodation and amenities!
>>> Book voucher, combo, tour to Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Da Nang for a trip full of fun!