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Son Doong Cave

Son Doong Cave is located in the heart of the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in Quang Binh province of Central Vietnam. Only recently explored in 2009-2010 by the British Cave Research Association, Son Doong Cave has only been open to the public since 2013. All research and tourist expeditions have thus far have been organized and led by local adventure tour company Oxalis, in partnership with British Cave Research Association and with the permission of the government of Vietnam. 

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Check out this stunning drone footage of a recent trek to Son Doong Cave.

Oxalis has maintained its exclusive position in Vietnam as the only tour operator of treks to Son Doong Cave due to its commitment to technical safety on all its tours. Oxalis understands that with a big cave comes big responsibility, and ensures all guests are led by the best international caving team in the world, alongside a team of exceptional local cavers and guides.

If you would like to join a trek to Son Doong Cave there is limited availability for trips departing in 2019. Check dates and make reservation here: Son Doong Cave Expedition

Discovery of Son Doong Cave

From an early age, local man Ho Khanh used to spend weeks on end trekking and maneuvering his way through the jungles of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, searching for food and timber to earn a modest income.

In 1990 while out on a hunting mission, Ho Khanh stumbled across an opening in a limestone cliff and moved forward to investigate. As he approached he noticed clouds billowing out of the entrance, and could hear the sounds of a river raging from somewhere inside the cave.

When he could feel a strong wind also blowing out from the cave, he decided to move on without further inspection. By the time he had returned to his home a few days later, he had forgotten its exact location and thought no more of it.

At the same time two members of the British Cave Research Association (BCRA), Howard and Deb Limbert, were basing themselves in Phong Nha to conduct exploratory cave expeditions in the area. While chatting with Ho Khanh one day, he mentioned to the caving experts that he had found a cave with clouds and a river inside. Howard and Deb were intrigued and urged Ho Khanh to try and rediscover the cave. After many failed attempts, they began to think this elusive cavern might remain lost in the jungle forever more.

In 2008 while out on another food gathering trip, Ho Khanh found the mysterious opening again and studiously took note of the path on how to get there. In 2009 he led Howard, Deb and a team of professionals back to the cave for the first expedition to enter what would later become known as Hang Son Doong, or ‘Mountain River Cave’.

Ho Khanh is still an integral part of every Son Doong Expedition, if he is not guiding groups, he is back in town organizing porters and leading our safety response group.

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Geology & Size of Son Doong Cave

The Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam contains the oldest karst system in Asia, between 400-450 million years old. Hang Son Doong itself is relatively young, with the analysis of sediment dating it to be only 3 million years old.

Formed on the edge of a fault zone, Hang Son Doong has been carved out by the mighty Rao Thuong River as it erodes away the limestone, forming the enormous tunnel beneath the Annamite Mountains. Giant sinkholes, known as dolines, have collapsed sometime up to 300’000 years ago, creating massive openings to the outside world. Cave pearls the size of baseballs have been formed by water dropping from the ceiling.

The first expedition had been halted by an 80m high calcite barrier, which was jokingly dubbed the ‘Great Wall Of Vietnam’. It wasn’t until their second expedition in 2010, when the Great Wall was finally climbed and the end of the passage was found, that Hang Son Doong was determined to be the largest cave in the world.

At over 5km long, with sections reaching up to 200m tall and 150m wide, Hang Son Doong is large enough to house an entire New York City block, complete with 40 story skyscrapers. With a total measured volume of 38.5 million cubic metres, this comfortably surpasses Deer Cave in Malaysia, which was considered to be the previous record holder. Stalagmites up to 80m high have also been surveyed, the tallest ever encountered.

Cave experts are doing researches about the connection of Son Doong Cave & Hang Thung Cave, the final result will soon be updated. Find more information about the Diving Expedition inside Son Doong Cave.

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Customers Reviews about Son Doong

• Trip Advisor Reviews

Read a very small selection of unedited TripAdvisor reviews of Son Doong Cave. It is continually rated as the best trekking experience in the world and truly life-changing:

“Nothing else compares!” – By J6419BGdonnas Portland, Oregon

I just finished the Son Doong Caving Expedition and it was the adventure of a lifetime! The trip is incredibly well organized and they take great care of you. In addition to the trip leader, there are 6 safety guides, 25 porters, a top chef and cooking support staff, and other ancillary crew. They bend over backwards to ensure your safety and that you have an amazing experience.

The vistas are stunning! You will not see anything like this anywhere. The food was quite varied and fabulous. The caving and bouldering are challenging, but if you’re in good shape you can do it. This trip exceeded all expectations. Highly recommend for all those looking for an adventure to surpass all others.

• Difficulty of Son Doong Cave Trek

Son Doong Cave is considered a level 6 on the list of Oxalis Adventure Level. That being the highest level of difficulty. However, with that said if you keep a regular fitness routine at home you should be able to complete the trek, and it is as much a mental challenge that requires stamina and determination.

If you are a bit slower then the rest of the group, don’t worry you will not be turned around. We do have a whole team of safety experts and guides to assist you with your footing along the way. Of course, this is within reason and our guides should not be relied upon for the entire trip. To give you a complete perspective we have lifted a number of reviews from Trip Advisor commenting on the difficulty of the trek, which may or may not make it easier for you!

“Challenging” – by Erictag, Singapore.

“Son Doong Cave is beautiful, breathtaking views, physically challenging, however, with good preparation, training and safety precautions, the trip is the most enjoyable. “Take your time” is the key safety objective. I am 60+ yrs old, I completed ( always last one ) with the help of a good safety guide. The organizer put in effort for good photography. I enjoyed it. Once in a life-time experience.”

Click here to read more reviews on Tripadvisor

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Tourist Activities

• Son Doong Cave Tour Operators

Son Doong Cave is operated exclusively by Oxalis Adventure Tours. Oxalis are the first adventure tour company in Phong Nha and part of the initial efforts to explore Son Doong Cave through their support of the British Cave Research Association.

Due to environmental and safety and conservation of Son Doong Cave, the Government of Quang Binh Province, Vietnam, has granted permission to only one tour company, Oxalis Adventure Tours to bring tourists to Son Doong Cave.

Only 1000 tourist to be allowed to visit the cave a year from January to end of August each year, each tour Oxalis will bring 10 tourists to explore Son Doong Cave and there are 30 staffs including cave safet expert, guide, safety assistants, chefs, and porters carrying about 600kg equipments in and out of the cave during 4 days and 3 night camping in the cave.

Oxalis takes its position in the adventure tourism sector and Vietnam tourism very seriously and strives to create the safest adventures possible for its staff and guests. Oxalis operates on an international level of quality employing one of the top caving groups in the World to oversee all caving operations.

Booking must be made before arrival in Phong Nha to ensure your place on the limited departures available. Oxalis use a simple booking system calendar similar to when searching for a flight. Available dates will be displayed in your preferred week or month.

You can check availability and make a booking by visiting our: Son Doong Cave Expedition Availability Calendar

Alternatively, please don’t hesitate to contact our team directly to answer any of your questions via email: [email protected] or phone: +84 (0) 919 900 042.

• Why Son Doong Cave tour is US$3000 per person?

Son Doong Cave is currently the world’s largest cave and it is environmental sensitive therefore the Government of Quang Binh province issued a regulation that allows only 1000 tourists can visit the cave each year, each tour normally 10 tourists. In order to manage the cave sustainably, only one operator to be appointed to run tours to Son Doong and Oxalis Adventure was appointed as the only operator since 2013. Oxalis Adventure has been collaborating with the British Cave and Research Association in maintaining safety and conservation. Below are the reasons why Son Doong Expedition cost US$3000.

  • In this $3,000 tour price, 10 percent of tax is already included, $660 is the environmental service fee that will be transferred to the management of the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park.
  • The fees also go to the 22 porters, five safety assistants, one international tour guide, a cave expert, two cooks and a forest ranger who accompany every 10 people who take a tour.
  • Other expenses include transportation, hotel, food and drinks, management and administration during the tour. (Not including international and domestic airfares).
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Hang Va Cave Tours Vietnam

Other Oxalis Adventure Tours

ONE DAY TOURS

If you are seeking a taste of the caves and really don’t have enough time then we recommend a one-day cave and jungle trek. We currently have three tour options for you to select, each with a slightly different style and suitability.

• Phong Nha National Park 1-DayOur family adventure in the Phong Nha offers a great taste of untouched jungle and impressive wild caves. It is the easiest level of adventure but there is still 5km of trekking and 2km of caving, and optional swimming during warmer weather into one cave. It’s suitable for kids from 12 and above with good fitness, and so this makes for a great day for everyone! It costs VND 1,650,000 per person (USD 72).

• Tu Lan Experience – 1 DayThis is one of our original one-day tours and still one of the best adventures in Vietnam. This one-day tour includes rock scrambling, 50m swimming through a wild river-cave, and up to 9 km of trekking through the lush jungles. You will also strap yourself in for a 15m descent down a ladder. It costs VND 1,800,000 (USD 78) per person.

• Hang Tien Discovery – 1 DayThis one-day tour is perfect for trekking enthusiasts eager to see the largest cave of Tu Lan but without time for the two-day experience. Hang Tien is a dry cave so no swimming required, but still includes up to 4km of trekking through mostly flat jungle and about 500m exploring this incredible cave that will no doubt impress with its grandeur. It costs VND 2,000,000 per person (USD 87).

TWO-DAY TOURS

Our most popular cave adventures start from two-days providing an immersive jungle and caving adventure, each targeting a slightly different kind of adventure-seeker, or perfect for those who want to combine a couple of tours to see different caves and areas on one trip to Phong Nha.

• Tu Lan Cave Encounter – 2 DaysOur most popular tour exploring the famous jungle area of Tu Lan. On this overnight camping excursion, you will trek through a number of different dry caves, swim up to 500m through a couple of river caves, witness outstanding cascading waterfalls underground as featured in National Geographic, and spend the night at our jungle camp beside a gorgeous waterfall. It includes 12km of trekking and 3km of caving in total and is for those with a good adventurous spirit. It costs VND 5,500,000 per person (USD 239).

• Hang En Cave Adventure – 2 DaysFor two days, this is our best-value-for-money tour that includes one of the most jaw-dropping natural landscapes you will see in this lifetime. This cave is considered the second largest cave in Vietnam and third largest in the World, and it also makes up one night of the original five-day Son Doong Cave Expedition being so close to the largest cave in the world. It includes visiting Ban Doong Ethnic Village, located in the jungle, and a magnificent campsite on a sandy beach inside the cave. It includes 22km of jungle trekking at times quite rocky, multiple knee-deep river crossings, and elevation change of 400m (the ‘hill’ you won’t forget), and 4km of caving. This is a level 3 adventure on a scale of 1 to 6. It costs VND 7,600,000 per person (USD 330).

• Hang Tien Endeavor – 2 DaysA two-day trek into the jungle to see the largest dry cave of the Tu Lan area, exploring 5.5km of this truly stunning cave, with a variety of karst formations. This 13km trek is suitable for those not too keen on cave swimming or too many hills, but still up for an adventure. This is a level 4 adventure between 1 and 6, with 6 being the most challenging. It costs VND 6,500,000 per person (USD 283).

• Hang Va Expedition – 2 DaysA technically challenging, but equally rewarding two-day caving adventure in the heart of Phong Nha National Park. This tour takes you deep into the jungle to one of the most spectacular river-caves, with formations not seen anywhere else in the world! It involves rock scrambling, wading through an underground river, bouldering and rope-traversing within the cave, to reach the rarest tower cone formations. This involves quite a lot of technical work due to safety, but is not overly difficult, it includes 10km of trekking and 3 km of caving.  This is a level 4 adventure, with 6 being the highest. It costs VND 8,000,000 per person (USD 348).

THREE-DAY TOURS

Now, if you really want to increase the adventure and soak up the wild jungle of Vietnam, with plenty of time to relax and enjoy the area, we highly recommend a three-day caving tour of our Tu Lan or Hang Tien.

• Wild Tu Lan Cave Explorer – 3 DaysThis tour incorporates the very best of Tu Lan with two different jungle campsites besides stunning waterfalls, 3km of cave exploring through a number of caves, 1km of cave swimming and visiting some additional areas not included on our shorter experiences. Our three-day tour is very popular and tends to be booked out so get in quick to enjoy this thrilling jungle adventure. It includes 17 km of jungle trekking and with quite a bit of swimming you will need to have a good level of fitness. It is not for the faint-hearted, but still only considered level 3 adventure level compared to level 4 of the Hang Tien 3-day tour. It costs VND 8,000,000 per person (USD 348).

• Hang Tien Exploration – 3 DaysThis three-day tour stands out for combining a taste of Tu Lan with some river cave swimming, before crossing a mountain range to reach the valley for Hang Tien – the most astounding dry caves in the region, where you will enjoy trekking, bouldering over various rocky terrains to witnessing breathtaking patterned calcite walls & ceilings of Hang Tien. It’s challenging and definitely more suited to adventure enthusiasts who have trekking experience and prefer more challenging routes. It includes a total of 22km of trekking, 6.5 km of caving and an elevation change of 150m over one particular hillside. You will get wet, you will be challenged, but you will not be disappointed. Hang Tien is located adjacent to the Tu Lan area so you will enjoy the best of both worlds – a level 4 adventure out of 6 adventure levels. It costs VND 8,500,000 per person (USD 370).

FOUR & FIVE-DAY TOURS

For those looking for the ultimate adventure experience in Vietnam, and thriving for the real grand expedition of the world, you should opt for these 4-day journeys to explore the entire cave system of Tu Lan and the largest cave on Earth

• Tu Lan Expedition – 4 DaysYou will also explore all of the extraordinary caves in Tu Lan, including Kim Cave and Secret Cave that boasts phenomenal natural falls and karst formations inside these two unbelievable river caves. Complete a trek through Hang Tien Cave – famed for its vastness and magnificent formations. Our secluded jungle campsites are spectacular and mostly different from those visited on our shorter treks in the same region. This is a perfect alternative expedition for those who are unable to do Son Doong Expedition, still it’s challenging and not recommended for those without experience. It includes an additional night at Chay Lap Farmstay before the tour to ensure you are well rested and ready to depart early the following day. Level 5 on our 6 adventure levels. It includes 30km of jungle trekking, 5 km of caving, about 800m swimming through caves and one abseil in a cave in the pitch black – highly adventurous! It costs VND 15,000,000 per person (USD 652).

STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?  Visit our FAQs section where we have a lot of answers for your questions and concerns. https://oxalis.com.vn/faq-general/

WANT TO SEE VIDEOS OF OUR TOURS? Visit our youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/OxalisAdventurTours

WANT TO CHAT LIVE WITH OUR ADVENTURE CONSULTANT? Please look at the green icon at the right corner on your screen below to talk to our Adventure Consultant.

 

Son Doong Cave Expedition

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 the only tour available of Son Doong Cave by the official tour operator Oxalis Adventure Tours. 

4 Days / 3 Nights

VND 69,800,000 or US$3,000/pax

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