How to visit Hang Son Doong, the world’s largest cave?

Grotte Hang Son Doong Vietnam

Visiting the huge Hang Son Doong cave in Vietnam is complicated at the moment

The Hang Son Doong Cavein Vietnam is so large that it has its own jungle and river, and could contain a 40-storey building. It has been open to public tours since early 2014, but don’t expect to come across many people: only 224 tourists will be allowed to explore it this year.

Despite its impressive size (almost 9 km long), the cave was only fully explored by British cavers in 2009. A local man had discovered the cave entrance in 1991. He didn’t visit the cave because of its entrance, a huge crevasse. To enter the cave, you’ll have to abseil down 80 metres before reaching the floor of Hang Son Doong.
Grotte Hang Son Doong Vietnam

How do I explore the Hang Son Doon cave?

At the risk of disappointing some, exploring the region’s new star is rather complicated at the moment… The only company authorized to operate tours of the cave is currently Oxalis. This company offers a unique 7-day/6-night tour costing US$3,000 (€2,162).

At this price, however, you can be sure of a week’s adventure. On the program: trekking/hiking, caving, river crossings, underground camping…

If you’re interested in adventure tourism, in a truly exceptional place where hardly anyone has yet set foot, you can check availability for 2014 here.

Grotte Hang Son Doong Vietnam

The local authorities want to keep this cave as pristine as possible, so it will certainly be several years before tourism is established here (very important structures need to be put in place if it is to be opened to « mass » tourism). The cave may remain untouched for a very long time, as you have to walk for over 6 hours through uninhabited jungle just to reach the chasm that serves as the entrance.

How can I console you?

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park also has many caves and cavities to discover. Although not as large as Hang Son Doong, they are well worth a visit.

The Hang Son Doong cave is in the same national park (Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park).

Caves to see include Phong Nha, Tien Son and Thien Duong (Paradise Cave). You need to go to the town of Dong Hoi and then enter the national park. You can book your tour easily from Hué.

Some photos of the Hang Son Doong cave:

Grotte Hang Son Doong Vietnam

The « roof » of the cave collapsed centuries ago, allowing a lush jungle to take root. Monkeys and bats live in what explorers have named the Edam Garden.

Grotte Hang Son Doong Vietnam Grotte Hang Son Doong Vietnam

Fields of algae cover parts of the cave’s interior.

Grotte Hang Son Doong Vietnam

Scientists have discovered previously unseen plant species around the Son Doong waterfalls. There’s also a river in the area.

Grotte Hang Son Doong Vietnam

Son Doong is a jackpot of rare cave pearls. The pearls form over hundreds of years as water runs off, drying out and leaving layers of calcite crystals on the grains of sand.

Grotte Hang Son Doong Vietnam

These photos are from sondoongcave. org and were taken by photographer Carsten Peter.

Would you pay $3,000 to explore this immense cave?