Located in the heart of the UNESCO-listed Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam’s Quang Binh province, Hang Son Doong is one of the most captivating destinations that can be experienced in Southeast Asia.
More people have stood on the summit of Mount Everest than have witnessed the surreal beauty inside these enormous chambers.
Translated as Mountain River Cave, it was first discovered in 1990 by Ho Khanh, a local farmer who was seeking shelter from a passing storm in the jungle.
He noticed clouds and the sound of an underground river gushing from a large hole in the limestone, and reported his findings to the British Caving Research Association (BCRA), who were stationed in Phong Nha at the time.
Unfortunately Ho Khanh lost his bearings during his return, and the exact location of the cave remained lost for 18 years. In 2008 while hunting for food he stumbled across the entrance again, and returned the following year with Howard and Deb Limbert from the BCRA.
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They began the exploration of the cave, and in 2010 determined it to be the largest ever discovered in terms of the size of its cross-section. The news shook the caving world.
The expedition to Hang Son Doong
Son Goong means ”mountain-river-cave” and the cave is believed to have been formed from two to five million years ago. But for a long time it remained undiscovered. It was first discovered in 1991 by a local farmer, but the first to actually explore the cave were British experts, in 2009.
The cave as a whole is considered to measure 87 miles long.
It contains its own animal life, a rainforest, lakes, beaches, and a river.
Many caves contain relics from a prehistoric age, such as statues and drawings on the walls. But no such relics were found in this cave.
Tourists first began visiting the cave in 2013.
Guided tours can bring visitors to the location. The tour can take seven days and the cost is around USD $2,300 (£1,500). That price includes five nights camping out inside the cave.
The Son Doong is also rich in rare pearls that have been shaped for centuries by water drops that have dried and shaped a layer of lime on the sand.
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