Hang Son Doong Cave Tour, World’s largest cave in Vietnam
The world’s largest Hang Son Doong cave is so big that it has it’s own climate, jungles and even clouds inside. The cave is located in Vietnam and it also has the largest known cave passage cross-section in the world.
Hang Sơn Đoòng, also known as Sơn Đoòng cave is a solutional cave in Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park, Bố Trạch District, Quảng Bình Province, Vietnam. At more than 200m high, 150m wide and 5km long, the Hang Son Doong cave in Vietnam is so big it has its own river, jungle and climate.
Less people have seen the inside of Hang Son Doong than have stood on the summit of Mount Everest. It is so big that a 747 could fly through its largest cavern.
Address: Tan Trach, Bố Trạch, Tân Trạch, Vietnam
Province: Quang Binh Province
Discovered : 1991
In early August 2013, the first tourist group explored the cave on a guided tour at a cost of US$3,000 each. Permits are required to access the cave and are made available on a limited basis. Only 500 permits were issued for the 2015 season, which runs from February to August. After August, heavy rains cause river levels to rise and make the cave largely inaccessible.
About Hang Son Doong Cave
Son Doong Cavern’s name translates to “mountain river cave.” This name is appropriate because a river runs through the length of the cavern. Son Doong is part of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, which is near Vietnam’s border with Laos. It belongs to a network of about 150 caves in the Annamite Mountains, many of which have never been explored. A 200-foot-tall wall of muddy calcite within the cavern, called the Great Wall of Vietnam, prevented the cave’s full exploration for many years. In its largest area, the cave is 800 feet high and 300 feet wide. It even has its own clouds at the ceiling. Hang Son Doong, a limestone cave, was formed 2 million to 5 million years ago when river water flowing across the rock found a fault and carved out a giant tunnel beneath the Annamite mountain chain.
Animals in the Open Areas
Where the cave ceiling has collapsed, life has flourished within Son Doong’s massive expanse. The cavern’s exposed passages are filled with many of the same plants and animals that inhabit the surrounding jungle. Birds, monkeys and snakes have been spotted by explorers in the cave. Since the cave has been explored by only a few teams throughout the decades, little documentation exists on the species found within it.
Denizens of the Darkness
In its closed-off sections, Son Doong Cave’s darkness is impressively thick. The unlit portions of the caverns are home to albino species that have adapted to life without light. In this environment, animals have no need for pigment, and many have no or diminished sight, since total lack of light makes eyes useless. Anette Becher, a German caver and biologist, is one of the only scientists to have observed animals within the inky-black passages. During her expedition she identified wood lice, fish and millipedes inside the darkest crevices of the cave.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
Son Doong Cavern is contained within Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. Within the park, more than 500 vertebrate species have been identified, as well as hundreds more invertebrates. Although they have not yet been officially documented as this cave’s residents, many of the national park’s inhabitants make their homes in the cave’s open areas. Phong Nha-Ke Bang is known for having the largest population of langur monkeys in the world. Several species of bat, which are very likely candidates to inhabit Son Doong, call Nha-Ke Bang home. Many rare birds, including the chestnut-necklaced partridge (Arborophila charltonii) and the short-tailed scimitar babbler (Jabouilleia danjoui), are found here. Many of the 250 butterfly species found within the park are most certain to drift through the exposed passages within Son Doong Cavern. A number of new species have been found within the park, including the little-known gecko Gekko scientiadventura, Orlov’s treefrog (Rhacophorus orlovi) and the striped hare (Nesolagus timminsii), recently discovered within the Ammanite Mountains.