“Mysterious, charismatic and stunning” – This can be my own way of depicting the beauty of Son Doong – which honourably ranked 6th among the 15 Most Beautiful Caves in the World, conducted by a US travel magazine ‘Conde Nast Traveller.’
“Son Doong,” meaning the Mountain River Cave, has been widely known as the most enormous cave around the world up until now. Located in the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in the Quang Binh Province, the Son Doong Cave is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Son Doong Cave is considered the largest natural cave in the world with approximately 200 meters in height, 200 meters in width and around 8.5 kilometers in length. The Cave was first found in 1991 (in some articles, it is reported as 1990) by Ho Khanh, a local farmer, and was then explored and published by a group of scientists from British Cave Research Association in 2009. At that time, it was relatively coincident that Ho discovered the cave when he was on his way to seek shelter from a sudden storm in the jungle. Initially, what he found was cloud and underground river from a large hole in the limestone and now, it became one of the most “must-go” places in Vietnam.
One of the most outstanding creatures of the Son Doong Cave is the various eco-system inside, including the marvelous stalagmite which is 80 meters tall, rare limestone cave pearls, foliage grown up inside the dolines created by the collapsed ceiling and microscopic organisms that still thrive in the darkness. The cave is a part of a network of 150 or so caves where not many are still not discovered.
According to statistics conducted in 2017, the Son Doong Cave has attracted more that 3.3 million visitors, including 100,000 foreigners, which have increased by 120% from previous years. Also, thanks to the “Son Doong phenomenon,” the Quang Binh Province has risen to become the second most attractive tourist experience in Vietnam according to a survey by the renowned travel publication, Lonely Planet.
The Son Doong Cave has gradually stolen the spotlight by its uniqueness and magnificence since it first became public in 2013. However, just a limited number of tourists can explore this stunning attraction each year. Oxalis, the only tourism company which has the right to hold tours to explore the Son Doong Cave in Vietnam, had just sold tickets for visiting this cave in 2017 and it came as no surprise that all tickets were all sold out within the first 20 hours. According to the most updated notice, there will be 900 tourists at maximum who can experience the amazing trip to adventure the Son Doong Cave and overcome Vietnam wall this year. It should be noted that for those who could not meet the demand of health (i.e. fainted heart people) will not be allowed to visit this cave because it requires tourists to climb, trek and abseil by themselves. The price ticket for one person is around 3,000 USD.
In May 2016, a group of ambassadors to Vietnam from seven countries – Australia, Sweden, Italy and the United Kingdom, Czech Republic and Argentina – joined US Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski and Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau, Head of the Foreign Ministry’s Culture and UNESCO Department, to participate in a seven-day expedition to the Son Doong Cave. The US Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius also made an unforgettable excursion to the the cave in early 2017.
One more interesting fact about the Son Doong Cave is that the number of tourists who can visit this cave is less than the number of tourists who can conquer Everest. Thus, let’s try to be one of the 900 lucky people who are hunger for joining the amazing adventure to the most incredible cave in the world!
By Pham Ngoc Huyen, ASEAN Correspondent from Vietnam