son doong cave in phong nha ke bang national park - vietnam

Son Doong Cave exploration

Posted on Posted in Cave Tours, Son Doong Cave Tours

Son Doong Cave –  the world’s biggest cave in Vietnam

The trial tour to Son Doong Cave was organized successfully in last August, 2013 is a important premise for first expedition to adventure the world’s biggest cave in 2014. As the plan, the center of Phong Nha  – Ke Bang National Park will cooperate with ABS TRAVEL & TRADE Co.,Ltd to ads and sale Son Dong Cave tour since the end of 2013.

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Son Doong Cave, a cave belongs to the Phong Nha-Ke Bang grotto system in central Quang Binh Province, has been discovered to be the biggest in the world.

Son Doong cave discovered by a local 18 years ago, is more than 200 meters wide, 150 meters high, and at least 6.5 kilometers long, though the explorers said they were unable to explore it fully. Bristish explorers have recently discovered that So Dong is much larger than the world’s biggest known cave. The biggest section of Son Dong is five kilometers in length, 200 meters high and 150 meters wide, said Howard Limbirt of the British Cave Research Association team searching the area April 10-14, 2009. Son Doong is much larger than Deer Cave in Malaysia, currently considered the world’s largest, an explorer said (Deer is 90 meters wide, 100 meters high and 2 kilometers long). The Son Doong cave has replaced to take pole position as the world’s largest cave.

The Son Doong is situated below another cave in Phong Nha-Ke Bang, though its entry passage is very difficult to traverse. The exploration team said they had set foot on just 6.5 kilometers along the cave, as there is a large amount of fast flowing water inside Son Doong. It takes explorers six hours of walking through a 10 kilometer long forest path from Truong Son Highway to reach the mouth of Son Doong cave. The explorer added that the Quang Binh cave has beautiful stalactites and stalagmites that are not seen anywhere else. Phong Nha-Ke Bang grotto system belongs to the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. It is a limestone region of 2,000 square kilometers in Vietnam and borders another limestone area in Hin Nammo in Laos. When describing the newly-discovered cave, the team’s spokesman, Haward Limbirt, said that it was a thing of overwhelming beauty and grandeur. He added that each grotto has its own beauty, but he is impressed by Ca Xai. This cave is near the Vietnam-Laos border. It is very deep and has a big lake inside. Explorers measured the depth of this lake, but they had only 200m of rope and the end didn’t reach the lake bed. The British team suggested to the local authorities not to develop Son Doong Cave as a tourism site immediately to preserve its natural beauty.

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ADVENTUROUS ITINERARY:

Day 1: Dong Hoi – Safety Briefing – Saigon Phong Nha Hotel

Arrive in Dong Hoi by no later then the afternoon of day 1 where you will be met by our guide and transferred to Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park.

You’ll be dropped off at the Saigon Phong Nha Hotel where you’ll have the rest of the day to rest, relax and wander around the village. You will be required to purchase your own breakfast and lunch on this first day.

At 5:30 pm you are required to meet in the hotel restaurant where you’ll meet your cave experts and guide team for your safety briefing and equipment check.

Please have all belongings you’ll be taking on the trek prepared in your room before the safety briefing as immediately after we will collect everyone’s belongings in individually labeled large plastic bags, and send them to our porters to prepare for the following day.

You will receive your belongings each evening once you get to your campsite. Therefore, anything you want to take with you during the day you should keep in a separate small back pack (e.g. cameras, tripods etc.).

Enjoy dinner with your team at around 7:30 pm at the hotel restaurant.

Meals: Dinner. Overnight at Phong Nha

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Local Guide and porters

Day 2: Phong Nha – Ban Doong Village – Hang En Cave

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel at 8:00 am with your guide before departing at 9:00 am for the first leg of the expedition.

After a 45 mins drive along Road 20 of the Ho Chi Minh Highway you’ll reach your trekking point, where you’ll start trekking for approximately 1 hour downhill through the forest, which is quite steep at times.

Walk for half an hour along a small stream to the minority village of Ban Doong, which is a real highlight for many on this expedition. Learn more about this unique ethnic group of people and enjoy lunch beside a small river.

After this point, you will be in the sun all afternoon with about 2 hours along a river, with very little shade. You’ll cross the river many times and so will have wet feet for the whole day. In the summer, the water is only usually knee deep, but gortex boots will fill and hold the water so are not recommended.

You’ll then reach the entrance to Hang En Cave, home to thousands of swifts. Here you’ll be given your headlight and helmet and trek/bouldering approximately 20-30 mins to your campsite inside the cave.

The group should arrive at camp by 3:00 pm where you can enjoy swimming and washing within the underground river. Dinner will be served at the spectacular campsite with numerous photographic opportunities.

Anyone who is unable to complete any stage of this first day comfortably will be turned around to Phong Nha and cannot join the expedition. No refund will be offered.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Overnight in tents at Hang En (Swallow Cave)

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Trekking through the forest

Day 3: Hang En Cave – Son Doong Entrance – Hand of Dog – SD Camp 1

You’ll again begin your day with a delicious breakfast at around 8:00 am. You’ll be in for a very tough day today so its best to enjoy a big breakfast, as you’ll need your energy!

Start your trek at 9:00 am through Hang En Cave for about 30 mins to reach the magnificent exit, made famous by many a photographer over the past few years.

You’ll scramble down to the river valley and then it’s an hour’s walk through the river, so your boots are going to be wet for most of the day and it is unavoidable!

You’ll then start climbing a big hill with a couple of rope sections where you’ll need to pull yourself up, and in one point strap into a safety line. You’re then at the entrance of Son Doong Cave where you’ll enjoy lunch and countdown to your big journey underground!

With your safety harnesses, you’ll then start the 80 m descent into the cave by making a number of short climbs, using ropes and safety lines and with your guides’ assistance. There is no rappelling or abseiling involved.

You’ll then enjoy a few more climbs and bouldering to reach the first and second river crossing inside the cave, which is no more than knee-to-thigh deep depending on the water levels. You should have a wash here, as it will be the last place before reaching your first campsite in Son Doong Cave!

On your way to the first campsite in the first large passage of the cave, you’ll have to be extra careful as there are a number of big drops along a rocky path before reaching one of the most spectacular views: Hand of Dog and daylight streaming through the cave thanks to the first doline!

You will then scramble down to your campsite and have the afternoon to soak up the views and rest your weary bodies. You’re in for another big meal with your team before turning in for the night. There are no washing facilities on this day.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Overnight in tents at Son Doong Cave

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Beginning the adventure

Day 4: SD Camp 1 – Watch out for Dinosaurs – Great Wall of Vietnam – SD Camp 2

Your day begins with a hearty breakfast with your team before a 9:00 am departure towards your second campsite in Son Doong Cave!

You’ll start with some rocky climbs, which are quite steep in some places, as you reach the first jungle within the cave at Watch Out For Dinosaurs. After a short break you’ll be trotting down the rocky path to reach the enormous Green Gours!

A light lunch is provided with an incredible backdrop of the first doline. If you are lucky you may even catch some sunbeams, which make for truly spectacular photographs!

It is then an easy walk through the cave past gigantic formations and plenty of cave pearls towards the light of the second doline and main jungle within the cave.

Follow the path past the beautiful foliage reaching towards the light, to reach the underground jungle, unlike anything you could experience on the planet! Cross the jungle for around 45 mins to reach the steep and sometimes slippery path down to your second campsite within Son Doong Cave.

After a short rest at your campsite, you are back on your feet and heading deeper within the cave towards the Great Wall of Vietnam! You’ll pass through a very large dry passage with huge stalagmites and great views back to the second doline.

Many new creepy crawlies have been discovered within this passage including white spiders, fish, woodlouse and shrimp species!

You will reach at this point a very large beautiful underground lake, where you’ll then paddle to reach the Great Wall of Vietnam, or you will find a muddy pit for hundreds of meters, at which you will need to trudge your way through to reach the wall.

It is entirely optional if you wish to go further and reach the actual wall, as you will get very dirty in the mud and there are no bathing facilities on this day at camp (pack plenty of wet wipes if you decide on the plunge!).

You’ll again enjoy a fantastic dinner with your team and enjoy an evening of games and entertainment, or simply relax and enjoy the views at what is quite possibly the very best campsite in the world!

Quick note, you may use a pair of dry boots on this day, as aside from the mud there are no water crossings!

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Overnight in tents at Son Doong Cave

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Son Doong Cave’s Camp Site

Day 5: SD Camp 2 – Fossil Passage – Nat Geo View Point – Hang En Cave

After refueling with another hot breakfast you’ll pack up camp and start heading back to the first doline, with a slightly different route through a small oxbow passage above the underground river with a very steep drop, where you will need to use a rope and safety line.

Once you have reached your first campsite, you’ll have time for a short break before climbing down to the ancient fossil passage, where you will witness 350 million year old coral fossils!

Enjoy a small wash in the pools and a hearty lunch before climbing up to the National Geographic viewpoint. You will then descend back to the main passage, cross the river twice and proceed to climb up to the entrance, again strapped in with your harness and safety lines.

At the entrance of Son Doong you’ll have a chance to enjoy a small break and some snacks, before heading back towards the river valley, where you can enjoy a deserved wash! Walk along the river back to Hang En for your final evening and celebration with porter team at this underground campsite.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Overnight in tents at Hang En (Swallow Cave)

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Amazing view

Day 6: Hang En Cave – Ban Doong Village – Phong Nha – Dong Hoi

Wake early and after breakfast start your 10 km trek back to Road 20.

You’ll follow the river along the valley and back through Ban Doong Village. You will enjoy lunch along the way before starting on what is quite a difficult climb back up the mountain for the last hour of your big adventure!

Cold drinks await you at the top of the hill before a 45 mins drive back to Phong Nha. You will have a brief stop at the office to collect your luggage and valuables before a final 45 mins drive to Sun Spa Resort in Dong Hoi.

You can then enjoy a well deserved wash and either swim in the pool or enjoy the beach. There is also a good spa at the hotel if you would like to treat your body with some pampering! You’re then free to grab dinner at any time you want with a voucher you’ll be provided.

Please advise the hotel of your departure time on the following day upon check-in so they can arrange your transfer back to the airport or train station.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. Overnight at Sunspa Resort

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Overnight at the area

Day 7: Sun Spa Resort – Departure

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel (voucher provided) and your transfer to the airport will be arranged by the hotel reception. Be sure to give them your departure information.

Please let us know if you would like an additional couple of nights at the hotel and we can arrange! There are some great seafood options in Dong Hoi if you plan on staying an additional night!

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Tour includes:

  • Camping gear: tent, sleeping mat and sleeping bag
  • Caving & safety gear: caving helmet, caving headlight, harness and gloves
  • Dry bag (for clothing and personal belongings)
  • Meals: breakfast (day 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), lunch (day 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), dinners (day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  • 2 Caving Experts from the British Cave Research Association
  • Professional English-speaking tour guide and guide safety assistants
  • Porter team to carry all gear and prepare all meals
  • Katadyn (Swiss-made) water filter and purifier (application by guide and porters)
  • Basic camping facilities with eco-friendly compost toilet using western toilet seat
  • First Aid Kit, Medical Rescue Equipment & Satellite (application by cave experts)

The following is not included within the tour price:

    • Personal Expenses
    • Travel Insurance
    • Guide/Porter Tip
    • Generator/Fuel for Charging Cameras etc.
    • Accommodation before and after the tour dates.
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45 thoughts on “Son Doong Cave exploration

  1. Can you please provide availability etc for 2 people for son doong cave 4 nights trip around february 12 2015?

    Thank you!

  2. Do you have availability for January or February 2016?
    Also, would there be a discount for a group booking? If so, what is the minimum number of people you would need in the group?
    Thank you,
    Lee

  3. I will be backpacking in Vietnam from June – September this year, If I were to hang around the area for a week or two and an opening (Because someone didn’t make their reservation) happened a day before the tour would I be able to take their spot last minute?

      1. I will be there at the end of November and have the same question–if anyone drops out is it possible to take two spots?

        Thank you!

          1. Hi, I think I might have be in the same situation in June, 2016 probably end of May or early july, have not made a concrete schedule yet. I would like to know further information.

            Thanks

  4. Hello,
    I will be backpacking through Vietnam January the 9th of 2016 through February the 1st. I lack the funds to spare for a guided tour and was wondering if you might have any opening for a sherpa position. I would gladly do it at no charge just for the experience. If you do need an extra hand please send me an email and I will be happy to help out!

    Thanks,
    Joe

  5. Hi, I plan to visit San Doong cave during end April, tentatively, 23rd April, 2016.I temporarily is having 4 pax. Is end April a good time to go? How is the charges like if I only have 4 pax. Looking forward for your feedback. Thanks.

  6. Hi! Good day!
    I and a group of friends are planning to have a tour through that cave? How much will it cost us? Is there any travel package at all?

  7. Hi

    We are 3 people who will be travelling through Vietnam this December 2015. We would love to join a cave trip but cannot find anything for December.

    Do you have any availabilities?

    Thank you!

  8. Hi will like to check for 2 pax in Jan 2016, how much will it cost and what is the shortest tour available for the son doong cave tour?

  9. Hi I am inquiring for 2 people anytime the first two weeks of May 2016. How many days does the tour of son doong take?

  10. Hello,

    I am inquiring for 4 people sometime in late March 2016.
    What are your touring options for Hang Son Doong?
    What are the costs for these tours?
    What is all included with these tours?

  11. Hi Im a solo traveler looking to explore the San doong caves. How much does it cost for the 7 Day trip whose itinerary is mentioned in the above page ? I am planning to visit around July or August 2016. Your quick reply would be of great help !!

  12. Is the tour available all year round? What is the best time? I am planning to join the tour with a friend. Can I have the package rates and are the rates same all year round!

  13. Hi ,
    I would like to explore the Son doong caves. Would like to check for availability , price for 2pax and itinerary on 4th or 5th June 2016. I will be staying till the 8th only . Is there a shorter tour of the caves, maybe a 3 day 2 night tour ?

    Thanks!
    Jasmeet

  14. Please send pricing for this tour for two people Departing Feb 12th or 13th, 2017. Please also advise what the normal porter tip is and suggest pre/post accommodations so that we can accurately budget. Thank you

  15. Our departure date is 04.02.2017 HUE .2 travelers want to go Son Doong Cave trip about 2-3 days (no mountain climbing). Which is the price and conditions?
    Best regards,
    Helen Vosu

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