Where is Son Doong Cave?

Within the untamed Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park, in the Vietnamese province of Quang Binh, is where you'll find Son Doong Cave. It was initially found in 1991 by a local guy called Ho Khanh, but it wasn't until 2009 that the world was made aware of its real magnitude and beauty. The cave is a must-see location for any daring tourist and is a component of the intricate karst limestone terrain of this area.

Unique Nature Wonders in Son Doong Cave

Hope and Vision cave branch

Son Doong Cave

Hope and Vision cave branch

From the starting point of the Hand of Dog corridor, you can see sinkhole 1's light at a distance of 1.5km. This is the largest cavity in Son Doong and cave experts have estimated that it can fit a skyscraper of over 40 stories.

The cave is also large enough for a Boeing 747 to fly through. Additionally, this area houses the world's tallest stalactite column, which measures over 80m in height.

Fossil passage

Son Doong Cave

Fossil passage

The fossil passage is situated beneath the Ho Sut 1 campsite, 40m deep adjacent to the underground river. Here, you can observe limestone rocks imprinted with fossils of snails, shells, fish skeletons, and corals that date back hundreds of millions of years ago. Visitors can take a refreshing dip in an underground lake, located in the area. The temperature of the lake ranges between 16 and 17 degrees Celsius.

To enhance the experience, visitors can wear life jackets and use headlights while swimming. Many visitors consider this activity a must-do after a challenging trek from En Cave, as it is one of the highlights of exploring the world's biggest cave.

The great wall of Vietnam

Son Doong Cave

The great wall of Vietnam

The expedition team explored the Hang Son Doong Cave for almost 10 days in April 2009. They found a massive calcite flowstone that blocked all exits and decided to turn back because they didn't have the necessary climbing equipment. After leaving the cave, they declared it the largest natural cave in the world based on their measurements. The huge stalagmite they encountered during their exploration was named The Great Wall of Vietnam due to its awe-inspiring size.

Passchendaele passage

Son Doong Cave

Passchendaele passage

The muddy passage at the lake below the Vietnam wall is over 600m in length. During the cave expedition, the water in the lake had receded, leaving the passage muddy and up to hip-deep. The expedition worked hard to cross it and named it Passchendaele, after the movie about a World War I battle.

During certain months or when it rains frequently, the shallow stream in the Passchendaele entrance fills with water and creates a stunning jade-green lake that stretches 600m. Tourists can enjoy the lake by navigating it with rafts and boats.

Underground river

Son Doong Cave

Son Doong underground’s river

Hang Son Doong Cave contains an underground river formed by the fusion of the water from En Cave and Khe Ry Cave. Khe Ry Cave is the longest underground river cave, and its water originates from the Vietnam/Laos border area.

To reach the Hope and Vision Passage from the Son Doong entrance, you need to cross knee-deep rivers twice.

In case of high water levels, there are emergency bridges available for use. Along the way, you'll encounter small waterfalls that create loud rumbles, and at times, a mist fills the cave. The underground river disappears around 4.5km away from the cave entrance near Doline 1.

Doline 1

Son Doong Cave

Doline 1 looks like an other-world wonder

The collapsed ceiling of Son Doong has created a large opening to the outside, known as Doline 1 or skylight. It is around 450 meters high from top to bottom and marks the point where the underground river disappears. During sunny days, immense sunbeams enter through this opening, especially between 11 am and 1 pm. This phenomenon usually occurs every year from January to March.

The sunlight penetrates deep into the cave, illuminating the large passages, thanks to the solar orbit. As a result of the beam's convergence with the mist that rises from the underground river, a unique and majestic scene is created, which cannot be found anywhere else. Many people find it reminiscent of another planet, while others feel it's similar to the movie Avatar.

Doline 2

Son Doong Cave

Doline 2 - Garden of Edam

Doline 2 is located around 1 km from Doline 1. It has a primeval forest that grows 200m deep inside a cave that lies beneath limestone mountains. You can spot a small path leading to the forest as soon as you exit Doline 1.

Doline 2 has a wide opening at the top that lets in a lot of sunlight. This makes for good growing conditions for various species of ferns, begonias, and large trees that grow along the path. You will have to trek for approximately 30 minutes to cross the forest and reach Doline 2.

Cave Pearls

son doong cave

Unique and extraordinary pearls in Son Doong Cave

Cave pearls are formed in caves from drips of water that contain calcite carbonate. These pearls vary in size and shape, ranging from peas to baseballs. The pearls found in Son Doong cave are formed naturally inside gour pools and are beautiful when viewed under headlamps, especially on rainy days when water runs through them.

However, these pearls are made of ordinary calcium carbonate and have no value. If taken outside or exposed to direct sunlight, they quickly dry out and become discolored and plain.

How Was Son Doong Cave Found?

The Son Doong Cave was first discovered in 1991 by a local man named Ho Khanh. However, it wasn’t until 2009 that its true size and beauty were revealed to the world. In April 2009, the expedition team of British cavers explored this amazing cave and declared it the largest natural cave in the world based on their measurements.

The expedition team's journey began in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, located in Quang Binh province. Armed with GPS devices, they traced a path 2km into the vast Son Doong Cave. Along the way, they encountered a huge stalagmite which they named The Great Wall of Vietnam due to its awe-inspiring size.

son doong cave

Mr. Ho Khanh - the man who discovered Son Doong cave

The expedition team explored the cave for almost 10 days. During their exploration, they discovered a fossil corridor and numerous calcite chambers with some containing beautiful pearls formed from drips of water that contain calcite carbonate.

They also discovered an underground river flowing through the cave which originates from the Vietnam/Laos border area. The expedition team declared Son Doong Cave the world's largest natural cave after their successful exploration.

Son Doong is today regarded as one of Vietnam's most stunning natural marvels and has grown in popularity as a result of its discovery. The spectacular cave attracts visitors from all over the world who come to enjoy and discover its many delights. Only guided excursions are permitted within the cave to guarantee that guests are safe and have a good time. 

Best time to visit Son Doong Cave

Well, the answer depends on what you want to see and experience. The cave is open for tours from February to August, but each month has its own pros and cons.

  • February to April is the dry season, which means less rain and more sunshine. This is good for hiking and exploring the cave, but it also means less water in the river and the lake inside the cave. The water level can be too low for kayaking or swimming, which are some of the highlights of the tour.
  • May to August is the rainy season, which means more water and more greenery. This is good for kayaking and swimming in the cave, but it also means more clouds and fog. The visibility can be poor, and you might not see the spectacular sunbeams that shine through the cave openings.

10 Things Make Son Doong a Unique Experience

Son Doong Cave is one of the most impressive natural wonders in Vietnam. It is the world's largest natural cave and features stunning formations, underground rivers, and an incredible array of wildlife. Here are five unique features that make a Son Doong Cave tour an unforgettable experience:

son doong cave

10 Things Make Son Doong a Unique Experience

  1. Son Doong cave is so big that it has its own rainforest, rivers, and even clouds.

  2. The cave has many unique stalagmite and stalactite formations that have been shaped over millions of years by the water running through the caves.

  3. Son Doong cave is home to an incredible array of wildlife including flying foxes, spiders, swallows, and bats.

  4. The underground river creates a unique soundscape that can be heard echoing throughout the cave.

  5. The sunlight that penetrates through the skylight produces an otherworldly atmosphere as well as incredible photo opportunities.

  6. The surrounding area of the cave offers tourists a chance to explore a variety of caves, jungles, and limestone mountains.

  7. The Cave Pearls that can be found inside the cave are a mesmerizing sight, with their distinctive shapes and sizes.

  8. The En Cave located near Son Doong is one of the most beautiful caves in Vietnam, featuring an impressive underground river and limestone formations.

  9. The Hope and Vision Passage within Son Doong is renowned for its stunning views of the rainforest canopy that can be seen from the cave.

  10. The tour includes a night in Camp 5, which offers stunning views of the Son Doong Cave and a chance to observe the stars and planets in the night sky.

Want to explore further? Check out our post about Vietnam travel guide for first timer!

Who is Suitable for a Son Doong Cave Tour?

If you're searching for an experience off the main route and are in decent physical shape, you should take a Son Doong Cave trip. It's necessary to be ready and in good enough shape to perform the activities easily since the excursions involve some swimming, climbing, and walking. 

Visitors must be able to handle any potential discomfort or unexpected changes in weather because the tour also demands them to spend the night in the bush. 

The tour is also not suitable for those with respiratory issues as the humid environment and physical exertion could pose a health risk. The tour operators will advise against bringing children below 12 years old due to safety considerations during the activities.

What to Prepare Before Going to Son Doong?

what to prepare to son doong cave

What to Prepare Before Going to Son Doong?

If you’re planning on taking a Son Doong Cave Tour, it is important to be prepared and come equipped with the right items. Here are some essential things that you should bring for your trip:

  • Appropriate clothing for trekking, swimming, and sleeping in the jungle (including waterproof items).

  • A sturdy pair of walking boots.

  • Insect repellent.

  • Headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries.

  • Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, and other sun protection measures.

  • First aid kit with personal medication if necessary.

  • Enough food and water for the duration of the tour (at least 3 liters per day).

  • Camera equipment such as a DSLR, GoPro, or waterproof compact camera.

  • A dry bag to keep your belongings safe from humidity and water.

What are the Costs of the Son Doong Cave Tour?

The cost of a Son Doong Cave Tour varies based on the tour operator, the number of persons in the party, and the length of the trip. A typical 3-day/2-night vacation costs roughly $3,000 USD per person and includes all meals, camping in the forest, cave admission fees, and transportation from Hanoi to Quang Binh province. This price includes:

son doong cave

What are the Costs of the Son Doong Cave Tour?

  • Train/airport pickup: The service offered is transportation to and from Dong Hoi airport or station.

  • Food and drink: All meals and drinks are included in the tour.

  • Accommodation: On the first night, guests will stay at Son Doong Bungalow. After that, they will spend 3 nights in a tent inside the cave. Finally, when coming out of the cave, they will stay for 1 night at Chay Lap Farmstay.

  • Service team: There will be a total of 10 guests per tour, accompanied by 1 cave expert, 1 guide, 6 safety assistants, and 2 chefs. Additionally, 17 porters will be present to carry luggage.

  • Safety gear: Safety equipment, including helmets, seat belts, explorer headlamps, gloves, and other necessary items, will be provided during the tour.

  • Travel insurance: We advise you to consider purchasing comprehensive travel insurance based on your personal needs, as the maximum compensation for a single case is limited to VND 50 million.

Son Doong Cave How to Get There?

How to get to Quang Binh from Hanoi

The city of Hanoi is very well connected with Quang Binh province, which is the gateway to Son Doong Cave. Here are the different transport options, relevant times, availability, prices, and contact information.

train to quang binh from hanoi

Hanoi to Quang Binh train

Option 1: Train

  • Trains from Hanoi to Quang Binh's Dong Hoi Railway Station are operated by Vietnam Railways. There are multiple trains daily, with journey times ranging from 10 to 12 hours.

  • Prices vary depending on the class of the seat and the train type:

  • Hard seat: 250,000 - 350,000 VND ($11 - $15)

  • Soft seat: 350,000 - 550,000 VND ($15 - $24)

  • Hard sleeper (6 berths per cabin): 450,000 - 750,000 VND ($19 - $32)

  • Soft sleeper (4 berths per cabin): 600,000 - 1,150,000 VND ($26 - $50)

  • Tickets can be purchased online at Vietnam Railways' official website, at the Hanoi Railway Station, or through a travel agency.

  • Hanoi Railway Station Address: 120 Lê Duẩn, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội

  • Hanoi Railway Station Phone: +84 24 3942 3697

hanoi to quang binh bus

Hanoi to Quang Binh bus

Option 2: Bus

  • Several bus companies operate sleeper buses from Hanoi to Dong Hoi, Quang Binh. The journey takes around 10 hours.

  • Prices range from 200,000 to 400,000 VND ($9 - $17) depending on the bus company and type of seat.

  • Some reputable bus companies include Hung Thanh Travel, Camel Travel, and Queen Cafe VIP Open Bus.

  • Tickets can be purchased online, at the bus station, or through a travel agency.

quang binh airport

Quang Binh’s Dong Hoi airport

Option 3: Flight

  • The fastest way to get to Quang Binh from Hanoi is by flying into Dong Hoi Airport (VDH).

  • Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air, and Bamboo Airways operate flights between Hanoi (HAN) and Dong Hoi (VDH). The flight duration is around 1 hour and 15 minutes.

  • Prices for one-way flights range from 800,000 to 2,500,000 VND ($35 - $110), depending on the airline and booking time.

  • Tickets can be purchased online through the airlines' websites or via online booking platforms.

Remember to check the current COVID-19 restrictions and requirements before traveling, as they may affect transportation availability and schedules.

How to get to Son Doong Cave from Quang Binh

How to get to Son Doong Cave from Quang Binh

 Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

You may take a local bus or a cab from Quang Binh City to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. The trip will usually take approximately an hour and a half. It is essential to note that all visitors must acquire tickets from the ticket office before entering the national park.

After arriving in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, you and your tour guide will travel for around 4 hours through the forest before reaching the entrance to Son Doong Cave. 

This will be a long trip up and down hills, therefore it is advised to carry enough water, food, and other necessities. Before you may enter Son Doong Cave's main chamber, you must first make your way through a number of rooms and tunnels. 

It is advised that you reserve a tour in advance with one of the reputed travel agencies like New Asia Tours to ensure that your trip is secure and comfortable. These businesses provide skilled, professional tour operators who can make sure that your excursion is safe and enjoyable. 

Where to Stay During Your Son Doong Cave Trip

If you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable experience, then a Son Doong Cave tour is definitely something to consider. But before embarking on your journey, it’s important to make sure you have the right accommodation for a comfortable stay. Here are some of the best places to stay during your Son Doong Cave trip:

1. Phong Nha Farmstay

where to stay in quang binh

Phong Nha Farmstay Quang Binh

  • Type: Hotel

  • Pros: Comfortable rooms, peaceful surroundings, a swimming pool, and a restaurant/bar. Located near Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, which is the gateway to Son Doong Cave.

  • Cons: A bit pricier compared to other local accommodations.

  • Recommended for: Luxury and comfort-seeking travelers.

  • Features: Air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, bicycle rental.

  • Prices: From 1,000,000 VND ($43) per night.

  • Address: Cu Nam, Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province

  • Phone: +84 91 791 00 55

2. Jungle Boss Homestay

Where to Stay During Your Son Doong Cave Trip

Jungle Boss Homestay Quang Binh

  • Type: Homestay

  • Pros: Authentic Vietnamese experience, friendly hosts, and close proximity to the national park. Offers tours and adventure packages.

  • Cons: Limited amenities compared to hotels.

  • Recommended for: Adventure and budget travelers seeking cultural immersion.

  • Features: Free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, complimentary breakfast, and a garden.

  • Prices: From 350,000 VND ($15) per night.

  • Address: Khuong Ha, Tan Trach, Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province

  • Phone: +84 92 465 86 89

3. Victory Road Villas

Where to Stay During Your Son Doong Cave Trip

Victory Road Villas Quang Binh

  • Type: Boutique Hotel

  • Pros: Luxurious villas, modern amenities, a restaurant, and a bar. Close to the entrance of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park.

  • Cons: Expensive compared to other local accommodations.

  • Recommended for: Luxury-seeking travelers who want to be near the national park.

  • Features: Air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and a swimming pool.

  • Prices: From 2,500,000 VND ($108) per night.

  • Address: DT20, Son Trach, Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province

  • Phone: +84 886 199 599

4. Oxalis Home

  • Type: Hotel

  • Pros: Comfortable rooms, a restaurant, and a bar. Operated by the same company that organizes Son Doong Cave tours (Oxalis Adventure Tours).

  • Cons: Limited availability during high season.

  • Recommended for: Travelers joining an Oxalis tour who want convenience and comfort.

  • Features: Air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and complimentary breakfast.

  • Prices: From 800,000 VND ($35) per night.

  • Address: Phong Nha Town, Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province

  • Phone: +84 232 3677 680

5. Easy Tiger Hostel

  • Type: Hostel

  • Pros: Budget-friendly, social atmosphere, and a swimming pool. Offers dormitories and private rooms.

  • Cons: Not ideal for travelers seeking privacy and quiet surroundings.

  • Recommended for: Budget and solo travelers looking for a social environment.

  • Features: Free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and a bar/restaurant.

  • Prices: From 150,000 VND ($6.50) for a dorm bed.

  • Address: Son Trach, Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province

  • Phone: +84 232 3677 844


Q: What are the safety precautions for the Son Doong Cave Tour?

A: The safety of our guests is always a priority when taking part in any tour or activity. For the Son Doong Cave Tour, there will be experienced guides and equipment such as helmets and life jackets that will ensure your safety throughout the entire journey. The tour operators also have strict guidelines that all participants must adhere to in order to ensure the safety of everyone.

Q: What type of physical fitness is needed for the Son Doong Cave Tour?

A: The Son Doong Cave Tour can be strenuous at times, and basic physical fitness is required. Participants should have a good level of physical fitness, as there will be several sections that require walking or climbing over rocky terrain. It is also important to maintain hydration throughout the tour, so be sure to bring plenty of water with you.

Q: What can I expect during a typical Son Doong Cave Tour?

A: Depending on where the tour starts from, participants will usually begin their journey by taking a boat or jeep ride upriver to reach the entrance of Son Doong Cave. Once inside the cave, guests will explore the stunning underground formation, discovering unique rock formations and visiting ancient chambers. After exploring the cave, participants can take part in activities such as trekking or kayaking on surrounding lakes.

Q: How long does a typical Son Doong Cave Tour last?

A: Most Son Doong Cave Tours last between 2 to 5 days. The length of the tour will depend on the operator and your individual itinerary but expect to spend at least one night in a local hotel or guesthouse during your trip.

Q: Are there any age limits for taking part in a Son Doong Cave Tour?

A: Yes, most tour operators have an age limit for participants and usually require that all participants are aged 18 or over. Guests under the age of 18 may be allowed to join with a parent or guardian, but this must be confirmed with the tour operator beforehand.

Q: Are there any medical conditions I need to consider before taking part in a Son Doong Cave Tour?

A: Before taking part in any physical activity, it is important to consult your doctor beforehand when considering any medical conditions. It is also important to ensure that your travel insurance covers any activities undertaken during the tour.

Q: Are there any restrictions when taking photos inside Son Doong Cave?

A: Yes, all visitors are expected to respect the environment and cultural heritage of the area. Taking photos without permission or using drones is strictly prohibited in order to protect the cave environment.

Q: Can I bring my own equipment on a Son Doong Cave Tour?

A: Yes, you are allowed to bring your own equipment such as cameras and lighting for photography purposes. However, it is important to check with the tour operators beforehand regarding any other items that you may wish to bring along.

Q: Are there any other activities I can do in the area?

A: Yes, there are plenty of outdoor activities that you can take part in during your Son Doong Cave Tour. Hiking is popular in the area as well as kayaking and swimming in nearby rivers or lakes. You could also explore some of the local villages and cultural sites for a more immersive experience.

Son Doong Cave is one of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders and offers a unique experience for those looking to explore Vietnam’s remote jungles. Before embarking on your trip, it is important to prepare in advance and equip yourself with all the necessary information about Son Doong Cave, including safety requirements, physical fitness levels needed, and other activities you can do in the area.

Once you’re ready, there are plenty of accommodation options to choose from, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious hotels. No matter where you decide to stay during your trip, it will be worth every penny for an unforgettable experience inside one of nature’s great masterpieces! Don’t hesitate to contact our team at New Asia Tours team if you have any inquiriesabout Vietnam package tour! Thanks for reading!