Hang Son Doong: The Largest Cave in the World

by Travelature Team

Imagine yourself standing in a cave, where jungles grow beneath the cave’s skylights.

Discovered in the year 1990 by the local man Ho Khanh Hang Son Doong is one of the world’s largest natural caves in Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park, Bố Trạch District, Quảng Bình Province in Vietnam. Ho Khanh discovered the cave while searching for the agarwood. 

Agarwood is one of the most valuable timbers found in Vietnam. The gushing sound of the river stream and cloud billowing from the entrance caught his attention but Ho Khanh preferred to ignore the same and continue his routine.

The entrance of the incredible cave | Hang Son Doong | Largest Cave in the World

The entrance of the incredible cave © Ryan Deboodt / Oxalis Adventure Tours

However, soon in the year 2009, a group of professional cavers from the British Cave Research Association started a survey in Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park to find new caves in the region, having heard about his discovery, came to ask Khanh for help. Khanh agreed to guide the team to find the legendary cave.

During their first expedition, the group found 11 previously unrecorded caves, two caves named after Khanha and his daughter Thai Hoa. After two more unsuccessful expeditions, the researchers and cavers finally gave in and left, asking Khanh to contact them if he found the cave again.

Shafts of light during the exploratory day trip in Hang Son Doong | Largest Cave in the World

Exploratory Day Trip Inside the World's Largest Cave | Son Doong

In a final effort to recover his memory, Khanh headed to the jungle one winter’s morning in 2009 and re-discovered Sơn Đoòng, the name as it is known later. The British team immediately came back to Vietnam and followed Khanh.

During their search, they came across a flowstone-coated wall of 200ft high. Soon, the group started struggling to traverse the wall and reach the other end of the wall. Finally, in 2010 the cavers traversed the end of the cave passage. In their survey, the cavers also concluded that the Hang Son Doong has the largest cross-section on the earth. The Hang Son Doong is considered the largest natural cave and is one of the most popular adventure seeker places.

The cave was named “Son Doong” and Ho Khanh is still an integral part of all Son Doong expeditions.

Ho Khanh discovered the Hang Son Doong | World's largest cave

Ho Khanh discovered the largest-known cave on Earth, Sơn Đoòng © Doug Knuth / Flickr

Geology & Size of Hang Son Doong

Stalagmites and stalactites © Joseph Hunkins / Flickr

Hang Son Doong was formed during the Cambrian- Permian Era about 400-450 million ago. The river Rao Thuong River carved out Son Doong by eroding the limestone and forming a humongous tunnel in the Truong Son Mountains in Vietnam. The stretch of Hang Son Doong is extensive.

Its spread is approximately three miles ( five kilometres). The height of Son Doong is 650 Ft. The main cavern of Hang Son Doong is all-embracing and can easily accommodate an entire city block of New York.  The caver pearls formed due to water dripping from the cave ceilings are one of the greatest attractions of these natural caves. 

The cave pearls are of the size of stalagmites and tall buildings. The Hang Son Doong cave also houses the largest known stalagmite of around 262 feet tall. The collapsed ceilings of the cave have created Dolines(or skylights), a form of distinct opening. The dolines allow foliage to grow in the Hang Son Doong Caves. The Hang Son Doong cave is one of the most attractive and mesmerizing caves in the world.

Eco & weather system in Hang Son Doong

Underground river is a visual treat to the eys and soul of an explorer | Hang Son Doong | The Largest Cave in the World

Exploring the underground river inside Son Doong © Ryan Deboodt / Oxalis Adventure Tours

The world inside Hang Son Doong is totally different. It is a visual treat to see a different form of mother nature inside the cave. The cave has its own ecosystem and weather system which is fascinating and amazing in every form. The weather system in the cave is ultimate, it creates clouds. 

Wandering the cave, you realize the beauty of nature. The cave takes you to another world and acquaints you with the hidden treasures of the earth. It provides you with an image of how the world was millions of years ago. The gushing sound of the stream, the breathtaking flora-fauna, misty clouds, eternal jungle gives you a once in a lifetime experience. 

How to reach Hang Son Doong

Inside the Cave © Dante Aguiar / Flickr

To reach Hang Son Doong one needs to pass through a village in Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park. Bang Doong is the minority village in the national park. The village is surrounded by dense forests and jungle. The strength of the village is less than 40 people. 

The village offers a rare opportunity to connect with the locals and understand their culture and lifestyle. The village offers an unchanged view of life and amplifies your expedition experience. However, as per the amendments in 2017 only Oxalis Adventure tours can enter the cave and discover the beauty of nature. 

Oxalis has a legal permit to conduct guided and professional tours in Hang Son Doong. They have a bespoke five-day expedition program that covers all the elements of Hang Son Doong. 

The cost of Hang Son Doong is 3000USD. The cave is worth a visit and offers some breathtaking views. The surreal beauty of the cave enchants one with its exquisiteness and natural beauty.

The cave is a perfect illustration of nature’s miracle. It offers a rare opportunity to make wonderful memories and have a gala time with your crew. The Hang son Doong cave is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.

Camping and Trekking inside the largest cave on the earth

Travellers trek inside the Vietnamese cave © Ryan Deboodt / Oxalis Adventure Tours

All this is spectacular and visiting them is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you ever want to splurge in your life, that should be this cave. Forget the fantastic luxury beach resorts you will find anywhere else in the world. Son Doong Cave is matchless whether you prefer long hikes, camping in caves, sleeping under the stars of the jungle, swimming underground in river caves, exploring huge dry caves, or just a day trip exploring. 

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