Currently the Sin Doong cave is the biggest known cave in the world. It is located in the Vietnamese national park Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng. The cave is over 5.5 miles long, and so big that it could fit a 40-story skyscraper within its walls. Inside there is a jungle and large fast-flowing underground river.
But until recently the hidden treasures of the world’s biggest cave were a mystery to the rest of the planet.
Explorers have only started venturing into Vietnam’s Son Doong cave over the past few years and they’ve come out the other side with tales of a sprawling, untouched world.
In Vietnamese, the “Mountain River cave” was first discovered by a local man named Hồ-Khanh in 1991. However, locals didn’t have enough courage to explore the cave, as they were afraid of it for the whistling sound made by the underground river.
The entrance was lost in the jungle growth for nearly two decades until a British expedition blazed a trail in recent years.
In the year of 2009 the cave became public thanks to a group of British scientists from the British Cave Research Association, led by Howard and Deb Limbert, who conducted a survey in Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng from April 10 through April 14, 2009.
The roof of the cave collapsed centuries ago, allowing a lush jungle to take root. Son Doong is a jackpot of rare cave pearls. The pearls form over hundreds of years as water drips down, dries up and leaves layers of calcite crystals on grains of sand.
And finally thrill-seeking tourists have a great opportunity to join explorers and to experience the beauty of the cave on their own.
Exploring the cave, tourists have the chance to admire giant stalactites of various shapes, waterfalls, a jungle that is known as the Garden of Edam, two underground sinkholes with cliffs that are as high as 200-250 meters, the Great Wall of Vietnam that is 50 meters high, and native animals like flying foxes, monkeys and hornbills.
However, such an experience is not a cheap one. For visiting the world’s biggest cave you’ll have to pay a pretty big sum of money, about $3,000 US. But price doesn’t stop courageous tourist from admiring unforgettable sights.
More than 100 international tourists have booked tours to the world’s largest cave in Vietnam’s north-central province of Quang Binh since it opened to tourism earlier in August, the tours’ sole operator said.
If the pilot project proves successful, Son Doong will be officially opened to caving tourism between February and August every year. In the meantime, 12 foreign tourists have visited the world famous cave. The lucky ones were two Americans, one Australian, one Norwegian, and one English, who arrived at Son Doong on August 1 and spent one week there.
Aussie adventurer Luke Ford visited Son Doong on holiday but was so moved by the trip that he threw in his Melbourne office job and returned to work for the tour company who operates the trips, Oxalis.
“As we crossed the underground river for the second time, clambering over massive boulders past the Hand of Dog, we came across a view that left us all absolutely speechless,” Ford recalled of his recent visit.
“Sunshine and cloud poured through the collapsed part of the roof, lighting up gigantic 200-metre cliffs and our little campsite resting on a sandy plateau overlooking the first jungle section of the cave.”