Son Doong Cave Expedition 4D3N

This incredible Son Doong Cave Expedition will give you a wonderful chance to explore the world’s largest cave and exit via the Great Wall of Vietnam. This is expected to be your expedition of a lifetime.

This journey to the wild, exploring Son Doong Cave requires more than 25 porters, safety advisors & guides. You will explore the entire length of Son Doong Cave, Hang En Cave, and visit Ban Doong ethnic minority village.

Imagine trekking straight into the depths of the world’s largest cave which can fit a Boeing B747 flying through the largest passage, on an expedition unlike any other. Son Doong Cave is a masterpiece of nature with otherworldly landscapes, enormous stalagmites and statuesque stalactites – hanging from the ceiling and rising from the ground like an alien species. The real jungle inside the cave will amaze you in every way, while misty clouds envelope the scene. The fossil passage will give you the opportunity to understand the formation of this ancient limestone.

An adventure from start to finish, you will use ropes to climb into the entrance, and climb up the Great Wall of Vietnam, a calcite wall totaling 90m in height. You will always be under the guidance of the Oxalis safety team.

The Expedition is not a race, so you should not expect to rush on this tour. There will be plenty of time for photography and to explore the cave. However, all adventurers are expected to be fit, and have some previous trekking experience (not necessarily climbing or caving experience).

Note: Due to safety and conservation matters, the government of Quang Binh allowed Oxalis is the only operator bringing tourists to Hang En/Son Doong cave. Letter Number 1213/UBND-VX dated on August 03, 2016 of the Government of Quang Binh Province.

Customers are expected to make it to Son Doong entrance without assistance. Anyone who cannot do so will be turned around. We maintain the right to turn around any customers who cannot follow safety, conservation, or trekking rules, and anyone who refuses to follow the instructions of the guide team. Customers who are turned around will not a receive a refund of any kind.

 

Videos about this tour: link 1 | link 2 | link 3 | link 4 | link 5 | link 6

Son Doong Cave on the news: CNN | BBC | National Geographic | The Huffington Post |Daily Mail | The Guardian | Nomadasaurus | Bright Side | News AU

Reviews on TripAdvisor: SR 1SR 2SR 3 | SR 4 | SR5 | SR6 |

Download Itinerary (PDF)

Itinerary

Download Itinerary (PDF)

Quick Facts

  • Operating: from Feb to Aug (closed from Sep to Jan)

  • Duration: 4 days / 3 nights (plus 1 night before and 1 night after the expedition)

  • Adventure Level: Difficult; for physically active guests (50 km+)

  • Availability: Weekly Departures

  • Small Group Tours: max 10 guests per departure

  • Minimum Age: 18 years

  • Price: VND 68,550,000 or US$3,000/pax (incl. $660 National Park fee)

Dong Hoi – Safety Briefing – Chay Lap Farmstay

Arrive in Dong Hoi by no later than 2 pm on the afternoon of your briefing day, where you will be met by our driver and transferred to Chay Lap Farmstay. The hotel is located just next to the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park. Upon arrival, hospitality services will be happy to help you plan your extra time there. You can spend the rest of the day resting, relaxing, riding a bike around the Chay village, or splashing in the pool with views of the karst mountains surrounding you. You will be required to purchase your own breakfast and lunch on this day.

You will congregate at the Expedition restaurant within Chay Lap Farmstay at 6pm to have a meeting with the technical advisor and guide team for the safety briefing and equipment check. This briefing is mandatory and anyone who chooses not to join the briefing may be eliminated from the tour without any refund.

You are suggested to have all belongings that you will be taking on the trek prepared before the safety briefing. The operation team will collect everyone’s belongings right after the briefing in individually labelled large plastic bags and send them to our porters to prepare for the following day.

You will receive your belongings each evening once you get to your campsite. We suggest you to keep anything you want to take with you during the day in your backpack (e.g. cameras, tripods etc.). Before dinner, you will be given your helmet for the trip which is your responsibility throughout the tour. You are requested to sign the Release Form at the safety briefing before enjoying dinner with your team at around 7:30 pm at the Expedition Restaurant. Luxuriate in your comfortable bed that night at Chay Lap Farmstay before your 4-day-3-night cave expedition into the world’s largest cave!

MORE PHOTO

Chay Lap Farmstay - Ban Doong Village - Hang En Cave

Enjoy breakfast at 8:00 am before departing at 9:00 am for the first leg of the expedition. You’ll leave extra luggage and any valuables at the Chay Lap Farmstay before heading to pick up the porter team and setting off for adventure.

After a 45 minute drive along Road 20 of the Ho Chi Minh Highway you’ll reach the trailhead, where you’ll start trekking for approximately 1 hour downhill through the forest, which is quite steep at times. Walk for half an hour along a small stream to the minority village of Ban Doong, which is a real highlight for many on this expedition. Learn more about this unique ethnic group of people and enjoy lunch beside a small river.

After this point, you will be in the sun all afternoon with about 2 hours along a river, with very little shade. You’ll cross the river many times so please expect to have wet feet for the whole day. In the summer, the water is only usually knee deep, but Gore-Tex boots will fill and hold the water so therefore they are not recommended (please see our detailed FAQ for footwear recommendation).

You’ll then reach the entrance to Hang En Cave, home to thousands of swifts. Here you’ll be given your headlight and you will trek/boulder approximately 20-30 minutes to your campsite inside the cave. The group should arrive at camp around 3:00 pm where you can enjoy swimming and washing within the underground river. Dinner will be served at the spectacular campsite with numerous photographic opportunities.

Anyone who is unable to complete any stage of this first day comfortably will be turned around to Phong Nha and will not be permitted to continue the expedition. This will be the decision of the guide team on your tour. Should you be turned around, all tour costs will be forfeited.

Hang En Cave - Son Doong Entrance - Hand of Dog - SD Camp 1 - Fossil Passage

You’ll again begin your day with a delicious breakfast at around 8:00 am. You’ll be in for a very tough day today so it’s best to enjoy a big breakfast, as you’ll need your energy!

Start your trek at 9:00 am through Hang En Cave for about 30 minutes to reach the magnificent exit, made famous by many photographers over the past few years. You’ll scramble down to the river valley and then it’s an hour walk through the river, so your boots are going to be wet for most of the day; it is unavoidable, yet part of the fun.

You’ll then start climbing a steep hill for about 45 minutes with some rocky sections to start. At the top of the hill you’ll enjoy lunch, a safety briefing and fit your safety harness and prepare for your big journey underground. A steep descent with a couple of short rope climbs brings you at last to Son Doong entrance.

With your safety harnesses, you’ll then start the 80 m descent into the cave by making a number of short climbs, using ropes and safety lines with your guides’ assistance. There is no rappelling or abseiling at any point during the expedition. You’ll then enjoy a few more climbs and bouldering to reach the first and second river crossings inside the cave, which are no more than knee-to-thigh deep depending on the water levels. You should have a wash here, as it will be the last washing place for the day.

On your way to the first campsite in the first large passage of the cave, you’ll have to be extra careful as there are a number of big drops and scrambling over boulders along a rocky path before reaching one of the most spectacular views: Hand of Dog and daylight streaming through the cave, thanks to the first doline! You will then scramble down to the first campsite of Son Doong around 3 – 4 pm. After a tea and coffee break we will head down to view the ancient fossils. Here there is a chance for a short and cool swim, but no washing. You’re in for another big meal with your team before turning in for the night.

Please note that there are no washing facilities at camp on this day.

SD Camp 1 - Watch Out for Dinosaurs – Garden of Edam – SD Camp 2

Your day begins with a hearty breakfast with your team before a 9:00 am departure towards your second campsite in Son Doong Cave.  You’ll start with some rocky climbs, which are quite steep in some places, as you reach the first jungle within the cave at Watch Out for Dinosaurs. It will take about 1.5 hours to travel within the cave from Camp 1 to Watch Out for Dinosaurs. After a short break you’ll be going down the rocky path to reach the enormous Green Gours, one of the most magnificent and famous photography spots on the tour! A light lunch is provided with an incredible backdrop of the first doline. If you are lucky you may even catch some sunbeams, which make for truly spectacular photos.

It is then a walk through the cave past gigantic formations and plenty of cave pearls towards the light of the second doline and main jungle within the cave. Follow the path past the beautiful foliage reaching towards the light, to reach the underground jungle, unlike anything you could experience on the planet! Cross the jungle for around 45 minutes to reach the steep and sometimes slippery path down to your second campsite within Son Doong Cave. You will reach camp around 2 – 3 pm.

After a short rest at your campsite, you are back on your feet and heading deeper within the cave. You’ll pass through a very large dry passage with huge stalagmites and great views back to the second doline. Many new creepy crawlies have been discovered within this passage including white spiders, fish, woodlouse and shrimp species, so be sure to keep your eyes open. You will have many of great opportunities for photography here.

You’ll be back at camp again around 5 pm to enjoy a sensational dinner with your team and delight yourself with an evening of games and entertainment, or simply relax and soak up the views at what is quite possibly the very best campsite in the world.

Quick note: you may use a pair of dry boots on this day, as aside from the mud, there are no water crossings! Also, there are no washing facilities at camp on this day.

SD Camp 2 - Wall of Vietnam - Son Doong Exit - Chay Lap Farmstay

After refueling with another hot breakfast you’ll pack up camp and start heading towards the Wall of Vietnam. Scaling this wall will use a combination of ladders and ropes, but you will always have a safety line and people to look after you. After this strenuous ascent, you will see the light from the exit. Pass more flowstones and cave pearls, and see the calcited animal skeleton. Enjoy a picnic lunch before emerging into the jungle again.

A short but fairly rocky path will lead you down to the bottom of the hill, and a short hike to the road. Cold drinks await you at the top of the hill before a 45 minute drive back to Chay Lap Farmstay http://chaylapfarmstay.com/ where cool towels and a refreshing swimming pool are waiting for you. You will have an afternoon to relax after your long trek before enjoying a group farewell dinner with your fellow expedition team members.

Please advise our sales team in advance of your departure time so that they can arrange the logistics of your transfer back to the airport or train station. If you would like to extend your holiday in Phong Nha, let our team know so that we can assist you in booking extra nights at Chay Lap Farmstay.

Extend staying or transfer to train station/airport

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and the check-out time of the hotel will be 12pm regardless of your departure time. Why not take this as your opportunity to get to know more about Phong Nha beside the expedition, by staying for some extra days?

You will be blown away by the remarkable scenery, being surrounded by karst mountains, idyllic green rivers, rustic villages with beautiful local people. There are so many places to go and see (Chay Lap Water Sport Center, Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Cave, Mooc Ecotrail, Dark Cave..); sensational local pubs (Easy Tiger, Moi Moi, Pub with Cold Beer..); motorbike/bike tours through the National Park, Bong Lai Valley..

If you are still in the mood for the wild, our one to two-day adventure tours in another marvelous area – Tu Lan Cave System, are highly recommended (see more here). Since the cave system is the home of the Hollywood blockbuster movie Kong: Skull Island, you will have a great experience enjoying the landscape and imagining the legendary King Kong!

Our driver will pick you up according to your departure time and don’t forget to let us know in advance if you would like additional night(s) at the hotel and we can reserve that for you.

We wish you all the best in your onward travels!

Oxalis Adventure Levels

Oxalis-adventure-levels (2016 updated) 1

Image Map

Nuoc Nut Cave

Most of people can do this cave as long they can walk on flat trails (partly rocky) for about 30-60 minutes each way.

Please chat with us or send us a message if you have any questions.

Tu Lan Cave Encounter

Please make sure that your health is suitable for these activities with ease.

  • 12km jungle and mountain trekking, rocky terrain
  • Elevation change up to 150m (between valley and top of mountain)
  • 1 km swimming in caves (from 200m - 500m each cave)
  • 3 km caving
  • 2 days and 1 night in jungle and caves
  • Requirements:
    • Basic trekking experience
    • Must be able to swim
      Note: Be prepared for your shoes to get very wet due to many river crossings!

Tu Lan 1-day Experience

Please make sure that your health is suitable for these activities with ease:

  • 9km jungle and mountain trekking, rocky terrain
  • Elevation change up to 150m (between valley and top of mountain)
  • 100m swimming in caves
  • 1 km caving
  • Requirements:
    • Basic trekking experience
    • Must be able to swim
      Note: Be prepared for your shoes to get very wet due to many river crossings!

Oxalis Adventure Tours staff (cave expert or guide) reserves the right to decline, accept or retain any person as a member of any party at any time without compensation or refund due to safety issue.

Please check Frequently Asked Questions or chat with us if you have any questions.

Hang Tien 1-day Discovery

Please make sure that your health is suitable for these activities with ease:

  • 8 km jungle and mountain trekking, rocky terrain
  • 4 km caving
  • Requirements:
    • Basic trekking experience

Hang En Cave Adventure 

Please make sure that your health is suitable for these activities with ease.

  • 20km jungle and mountain trekking, rocky terrain
  • Multiple river crossings: 30 times (knee deep, 10-50m wide river)
  • Elevation change up to 400m (between road and valleys)
  • 3 km caving
  • 2 days and 1 night in jungle and caves
  • Requirements:
    • Trekking experience & must be able to walk 10km in one day
    • Must be able to withstand hot trekking days
      Note: Be prepared for your shoes to get very wet due to many river crossings!

Wild Tu Lan Cave Explorer

Please make sure that your health is suitable for these activities with ease.

  • 17km jungle and mountain trekking, rocky terrain
  • Elevation change up to 150m (between valley and top of mountain)
  • 1 km swimming in caves (from 200m - 500m each cave)
  • 4 km caving
  • 3 days and 2 nights in jungle and caves
  • Requirements:
    • Basic trekking experience
    • Must be able to swim
      Note: Be prepared for your shoes to get very wet due to many river crossings!

Oxalis Adventure Tours staff (cave expert or guide) reserves the right to decline, accept or retain any person as a member of any party at any time without compensation or refund due to safety issue.

Please check Frequently Asked Questions or chat with us if you have any questions.

Hang Tien Endeavor 

Please make sure that your health is suitable for these activities with ease.

  • 13 km jungle and mountain trekking, rocky terrain
  • River crossings
  • 5.5 km caving
  • 2 days and 1 night camping in the jungle
  • Requirements:
    Basic trekking experience
    Note: Be prepared for your shoes to get very wet due to river crossings!

Hang Va Expedition

Please make sure that your health is suitable for these activities with ease.

  • 10km jungle and mountain trekking, rocky terrain
  • 3km caving in river caves (cold water, 17 degree Celcius, waist deep)
  • Elevation gain is 150m (between road and mountain top)
  • 20m traverse using rope and harness
  • 2 days and 1 night in jungle and caves
    Note: Be prepared for your shoes to get very wet due to many river crossings!

Oxalis Adventure Tours staff (cave expert or guide) reserves the right to decline, accept or retain any person as a member of any party at any time without compensation or refund due to safety issue.

Please check Frequently Asked Questions or chat with us if you have any questions.

Tu Lan Expedition

The Tu Lan Expedition is moderate-to-hard for anyone who considers themselves physically fit and who participates in regular outdoor activities, and not suitable for those without trekking experience. Please make sure that you have basic trekking experience, you are able to swim and your health is suitable for these activities with ease.

  • About 30 km jungle and mountain trekking, rocky terrain
  • About 5 km caving
  • About 800 m swimming in caves (from 100 m – 300 m each cave)
  • Elevation change up to 300 m (between valley and top of mountain – total of 1750m of ascent)
  • 4 days and 3 nights in jungle and caves

Oxalis Adventure Tours staff  reserves the right to decline, accept or retain any person as a member of any party at any time without compensation or refund due to safety issue.

Please check Frequently Asked Questions or chat with us if you have any questions.

Son Doong Expedition

Please make sure that your health is suitable for these activities with ease.

  • 50 km jungle and mountain trekking
  • Elevation change up to 400m (between road and valleys)
  • Surface river crossing: 40 times (knee deep, 10-50m wide river)
  • 10 km caving including rope climbs, rocky terrain and scrambling
  • 80m descent with rope and harnesses
  • Underground river-strong current crossing
  • Requirements:
    • Regular running, trekking, caving or rock climbing (at least once per month). Other outdoor pursuits may be considered
    • Strong legs and good balance
    • Previous multi-day treks
    • General good health and fitness
      Note: Be prepared for your shoes to get very wet due to many river crossings!

Oxalis Adventure Tours staff (cave expert or guide) reserves the right to decline, accept or retain any person as a member of any party at any time without compensation or refund due to safety issue. This tour is not for those with limited outdoor/trekking experience, poor medical condition, nor is it for children or expectant mothers.

Please check Frequently Asked Questions or chat with us if you have any questions.

We Will Provide

  • Camping gear: tent, sleeping mat, pillow and sleeping bag
  • Caving & safety gear: caving helmet, caving headlight, harness and gloves
  • Meals: breakfast (day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), lunch (day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), dinners (briefing day, day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • 1.5 L bottled water at the top of the trailhead/trekking point
  • Base Camp water filter and purifier (application by guide and porters)
  • Basic camping facilities with eco-friendly compost toilet using western toilet seat
  • First Aid Kit, Medical Rescue Equipment & Satellite Phone (application by technical advisor and tour guides only)
  • 1 Technical Advisor (member of the British Cave Research Association)
  • 1 professional English-speaking tour guide,  5 safety assistants and 2 chefs
  • 22 porters to carry all gear and prepare all meals

You Will Need

  • 2 – 3 long quick dry, full length pants and 4 – 5 (easy to dry) shirts to wear during the trek; thick athletic leggings/running tights/yoga pants are acceptable if they are full-length and not see-through. Jeans are not acceptable. You may feel more comfortable packing a set of clothes for each day, but most people re-wear trekking clothes for multiple days. Please see the Son Doong FAQ: Packing section for more information
  • 1 – 2 pair of shorts and t-shirt to wear at campsite (plus your swimsuit for Hang En); warmer camp clothes suggested for colder months
  • 1 Fleece and 1 lightweight windproof/jacket (February – April only)
  • Trekking boots/shoes – difficult terrain, good footwear necessary. Recommended: Five-Ten Canyoneer 3. Gore-Tex/waterproof boots are NOT recommended as they do not drain well. Also consider bringing a backup pair of shoes. Refer to Son Doong FAQ: Packing section for more information
  • Underwear
  • 1 pair of flip flop (sandals) for campsite
  • 1 medium size towel
  • 4 – 5 pairs of calf-length close weave socks (not ankle socks or waterproof socks – no neoprene; SmartWool is a good brand; if you go with cotton, make sure it’s composed of 50% or less cotton)
  • Anti-fungal foot powder (talcum powder)
  • Wet wipes (very limited bathing inside the cave!)
  • Biodegradable soap and shampoo for use in rivers (only eco-friendly soap is acceptable, otherwise please plan to wash with wet wipes or just water)
  • Medium sized rucksack/backpack for daily belongings (most people find 25 L adequate;  backpack must fit the helmet we will provide for you and cannot be strapped to the outside; you will also be responsible for carrying your own tripod in your backpack)
  • Water bottle at least 1.5 L
  • Personal items – toiletries, medication, camera, tripod, spare batteries (toiletries should also include feminine hygiene products for ladies, even if it’s “just in case”)
  • Sunscreen and hat
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Small head-torch for use around camp
  • Rehydration tablets
  • ‘Compeed’/blister dressings
  • Medication – bring any essential medication and anything you take regularly (e.g anti-inflammatories). We supply drugs for emergency/unexpected conditions only.
  • AA/AAA batteries if needed (low quality only available locally)

The following items are not required but highly recommended:

  • Dry bag in the event of rain (for camera, clothing, and personal items within your daypack); alternatively, a backpack cover would be a good idea especially for the rainier months of February – April
  • Gloves, as ours are one-size-fits-all (if you bring your own, please choose gloves with fingertips)
  • Cotton or silk sleeping bag liner
  • Swimwear (for Hang En)
  • Ankle gaiters to help prevent silt/gravel inside shoes (especially if you have shoes instead of boots)
  • Trekking poles; please only bring them if you are accustomed to using them
  • If you are serious about photography, please bring your tripod along with your camera (this must be able to fit in your daypack)

Important Notes: We will have porters carry any of your gear that you will not require during each day (e.g. camera equipment/clothes you do not need during the day can be taken ahead to the campsite for you). You will not be able to access this until you reach the campsite. Please respect our porters and do not bring too much luggage for them to carry (7 kg per person). No outdoor equipment is available in Phong Nha, and only limited items in Hanoi or Saigon.

Drones are NOT permitted on the Son Doong Expedition or the Son Doong Photography Expedition.

We recommend 5:10 canyoneering boots for this trip. Otherwise, good quality trekking boots/shoes such as Keen/Merrell/Salomon. Gore-Tex not recommended. Please read FAQ part on our website for more information.

 Regarding drones:

Drones are NOT allowed on the Son Doong Expedition. There is no exception to this policy.

Pricing And Availability

If you still keen on an adventure that provides a similar experience to Son Doong, here it is: Tu Lan 4-Day Expedition . The Tu Lan Expedition is 4 days and 3 nights in the jungle and caves, and it is ranked as Adventure Level 5 just after Son Doong. On this tough jungle-and-cave trek there is plenty to keep your heart racing with some dark cave abseiling, bouldering, climbing and a lot of swimming through the caves. Our secluded jungle campsites are spectacular and extra lighting will be brought in to provide many chances for epic photography.
If you are looking for a shorter adventure, Hang Va Expedition is undoubtedly a perfect alternative plan. While not physically connected to Son Doong, Hang Nuoc Nut and Hang Va are most likely connected to Son Doong based on their shared water flow. Some explorers even commented that the stalactites and stalagmites in Hang Va are the most beautiful and extraordinary they have ever seen.

If you still have questions about this tour, please contact our local travel specialists who will be happy to answer all your questions