Discovered in 1991 by Ho-Khanh, a local Vietnamese, the Son Doong Cave is the largest in the world. It was only given this title in 2009 when a group of British explorers with the British Cave Research Association did an exploration and found it to be five times larger than the Phong Nha Cave, which was considered to be the largest cave in Vietnam at that time.
Today, Vietnam has opened the caves for tourists, however only a single tour operator, Oxalis, has been given permits to operate tours. In 2014, the Vietnam Government only released 200 permits to visit the caves. Oxalis guide tourists through the caves at a staggering price of $3,000 per person.
How to Get Here
The Son Doong Cave is located at the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in the province of Quang Binh. To get there, you will first need to fly to Dong Hoi airport in Dong Hoi city, the capital of the Quang Binh Province. From there, you will be transported to Phong Nha where you’ll be spending a night at the Phong Nha Hotel. It is here where you will likely meet up with the rest of the group. The tour is limited to 8 tourists, but the group will consist of 16 porters, guides, and two caving experts from the UK.
The whole expedition will last for 8 days. You will be spending 2 nights in hotels and 5 nights camping. At least half a day will be spent learning how to safely use caving equipment that will be provided by the tour operator.
What to Expect
For $3,000, you would expect a lot of value for your money. You can expect to get just that. In fact, exploring the Son Doong Cave is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Your first adventure is an 80 meter vertical drop from the entrance of the cave to the first passage of the cave. In order to get to the main tunnel, you will need to cross two underground rivers after which you will reach the first campsite.
During the tour you can expect to see cliffs up to 200 meters high and stalagmites that are as high as 70 meters. You will also experience living in a cave system that has its own ecosystem, even if only for a few days.
What to Bring
If you’ve been fortunate enough to get a booking, you will first need to ensure that you’re physically fit for this mini expedition. Should you get sick or have any medical emergencies while in the caves, the nearest emergency services will be far away.
You won’t need to bring very much with you. The tour operator will provide all the meals and water that you’ll need during the trip. They will also be providing all the caving equipment as well, so all you’ll need to bring will be your personal items.
You will not need any caving experience to join the tour. However, since a lot of physical activity is involved, make sure you are at least physically fit before the trip.