Son Doong Cave
Ban Doong village, Son Trach commune, Bo Trach District, Quang Binh province, VietnamTelephone
Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park telephone: +84 52 3677 021More information Prices
It is already a huge chunk of the $3000 tour price. If you want to do it, I'd book 2017's tour in August when bookings go live through Oxalis company.
Son Doong Cave is in the heart of the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in the Quang Binh province of Central Vietnam. Only recently explored in 2009-2010 by the British Cave Research Association, the cave has only been open to the public since 2013.
Less people have seen the inside of Hang Son Doong than have stood on the summit of Mount Everest. Join us on this otherworldly expedition and become one of the lucky few who have had the life changing experience of exploring the world’s largest cave.
Imagine trekking straight into the depths of the world’s largest cave on an expedition unlike any other. A cave so massive that a 747 could fly through its largest cavern. A space so mesmerising that it forces you to question whether you are still on this planet at all. Foreign landscapes found nowhere else, enormous stalagmites rising from the ground and statuesque stalactites hanging from the ceiling like an alien species. Jungles emerge from inside the cave itself, a scene so surreal that you have to see it to believe it. Misty clouds envelop the whole scene, a result of the cave’s own localised weather system. Passages adorned with ancient fossils offer evidence of the millions of years that have passed on this Earth.
As you approach the jungle just outside the entrance, the rush of cool wind that cascades out brings to life everything inside of you. Hazy, cold and exhilarating, it is apparent that there’s something magical waiting just beyond the opening to the cave.
How was Son Doong cave first discovered ?
From an early age, local man Ho Khanh used to spend weeks on end trekking and maneuvering his way through the jungles of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, searching for food and timber to earn a modest income.
In 1990 while out on a hunting mission, Ho Khanh stumbled across an opening in a limestone cliff and moved forward to investigate. As he approached he noticed clouds billowing out of the entrance, and could hear the sounds of a river raging from somewhere inside the cave.
When he could feel a strong wind also blowing out from the cave, he decided to move on without further inspection. By the time he had returned to his home a few days later, he had forgotten its exact location and thought no more of it.
At the same time two members of the British Cave Research Association (BCRA), Howard and Deb Limbert, were basing themselves in Phong Nha to conduct exploratory cave expeditions in the area. While chatting with Ho Khanh one day, he mentioned to the caving experts that he had found a cave with clouds and a river inside. Howard and Deb were intrigued and urged Ho Khanh to try and rediscover the cave. After many failed attempts, they began to think this elusive cavern might remain lost in the jungle forever more.
In 2008 while out on another food gathering trip, Ho Khanh found the mysterious opening again and studiously took note of the path on how to get there. In 2009 he led Howard, Deb and a team of professionals back to the cave for the first expedition to enter what would later become known as Hang Son Doong, or ‘Mountain River Cave’.
Geology of Son Doong cave
The Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam contains the oldest karst system in Asia, between 400-450 million years old. Hang Son Doong itself is relatively young, with the analysis of sediment dating it to be only 3 million years old.
Formed on the edge of a fault zone, Hang Son Doong has been carved out by the mighty Rao Thuong River as it erodes away the limestone, forming the enormous tunnel beneath the Annamite Mountains. Giant sinkholes, known as dolines, have collapsed sometime up to 300’000 years ago, creating massive openings to the outside world. Cave pearls the size of baseballs have been formed by water dropping from the ceiling.
How big is Son Doong cave ?
The first expedition had been halted by an 80m high calcite barrier, which was jokingly dubbed the ‘Great Wall Of Vietnam’. It wasn’t until their second expedition in 2010, when the Great Wall was finally climbed and the end of the passage was found, that Hang Son Doong was determined to be the largest cave in the world.
At over 5km long, with sections reaching up to 200m tall and 150m wide, Hang Son Doong is large enough to house an entire New York City block, complete with 40 story skyscrapers. With a total measured volume of 38.5 million cubic metres, this comfortably surpasses Deer Cave in Malaysia, which was considered to be the previous record holder. Stalagmites up to 80m high have also been surveyed, the tallest every encountered.
Ban Doong ethnic village
To reach Hang Son Doong, adventurers must first pass through the Ban Doong ethnic minority village. The only village located inside the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, less than 40 people makes up the population of Ban Doong.
Life is tough for the minority people here, due to their isolation from the outside world. Access is only possible by foot, and the dense jungles surrounding Ban Doong prohibit the cultivation of most crops. The discovery of Hang Son Doong and the subsequent expeditions that now pass through the village have seen new opportunities arise for the community, who now can earn extra income by working closely with Oxalis to protect the conservation of the area.
For many people, being able to visit Ban Doong and meet its welcoming villagers becomes a highlight of their trip. Ban Doong offers a view of way of life that has been unchanged for centuries.
Son Doong Cave Review
My best experience ever. The cave made me speechless, there is no word to describe the magnificence and its scale. It is a different world underground, real and unreal at the same time. At the garden of Edam, we were lucky enough to see leaves falling down gracefully, shinning in the light, just like gold flakes.It is unforgettable. The fairy tale view offers serenity. And nothing could beat the jolly jumps into crystal clear cave pools after hours of trekking. Just like how one wishes to relive his childhood. Last but not least, perhaps the most important is Oxalis crew and my travel group. We were very lucky to have John, Watto, and Mr Vu in our tour guide group. They are the best you could ever wish for. Amazing, dedicating, meticulous, knowledgeable, humble, humorous.They could patiently spend more than half an hour just to make sure you got the best shot. If you are looking for a unique and unforgettable once-in-a-life time experience, i highly recommend you sign up for this trip. If you dont have enough time , you can do shorter trips with Oxalis, all their cave tours offer top-knot service and experience. Cheers, Huong
This cave inspired me to quit my job, and travel the world for five years beginning with a sweep through SE Asia and a tour of Son Doong. I recommend to anyone taking the tour to add a couple of days onto your itinerary to go to Phong Nha, and get over the jet lag and get acclimated to the area. I spent two weeks during the Tet holiday and really enjoyed getting to know the area. I stayed at Ho Khanh's in one of his three new wonderful riverside bungalows. Ho Khanh in the man who discovered Han Son Doong which made the stay all the more meaningful. I understand that Oxalis is now opening up their hotel for uses other than stays the night before the tours, so I would highly recommend booking one of those if you fly in early. They are the very best accommodations other than Ho Khanh's in the area so you will not be disappointed. The food is great as well, and a rooftop bar with a wonderful view of the Son Cong River and surrounding area is sublime. Now to the caving. You will see the largest cave in the world with less than 300 taken through thus far. This is a mighty exclusive club, but you do have to earn it. The trekking can be challenging at times, and maneuvering through the cave can be tricky and hazardous as well. This is one of the the things that makes it special though. To negotiate this challenging cavern au naturale makes it a rewarding experience that mere cash cannot purchase. Oxalis makes this possible with their truly amazing support team led by Howard Limbert. I was also fortunate to have Adam on my tour as well. Without these people and the Vietnamese guides there would no doubt be problems. Howard could see my balance and confidence was a bit off, and put me with a great guide named An, who just happened to be the nephew of Ho Khanh. This young man kept me out of trouble for the whole expedition. Just make sure you are fit for this experience. By the time you are done you will have seen the largest and the third largest caves in the world. It doesn't get much better than that. Oxalis and there work have helped to bring much needed tourism to the area, and stimulate the local economy by helping to put Phong Nha on the map. I saw the results every day as I rode my bike. Home improvements all the way to town. They also have a Han Son Doong book in the works to benefit the children of Phong Nha as well as hiring an army of porters and support staff. The tour is a bargain, but it is also helping to support a village.
Although Son Doong has received much publicity in the last few months, all of the video and photography cannot replace the experience of joining the expedition yourself. We went with Oxalis, which I have reviewed on Tripadvisor as well. They have a top-notch team and we were lucky to have the leadership of members of the original expedition team.
Son Doong is a journey, departing from the quaint village of Phong Nha, and winding through the jungle to the cave entrance. Entering is no small task, requiring the assistance of the guides and some safety equipment to descend below into the darkness. From there, it is some light cave trekking and river crossing to get to the first campsite near the first doline. This is the first time I had seen dolines of this nature, where there is almost another ecosystem within the cave itself. Aptly named "Watch out for dinosaurs," I could not help but feel the prehistoric ambience and be awestruck by such untouched beauty. The trek from there increases a bit in difficulty, with some significant gains and scrambling along rocks large and small, between tight spaces, spanning gaps and such. For adventurous types, it is quite enjoyable. For fear of heights, well, you get over it. The second doline is more like a jungle, again a completely different ecosysteme within the cave, descending into the second campsite. With the help of the expedition team, we were able to indule in some photography during breaks near the dolines, or when viewing the many formations such as stalagmites of staggering heights, unique calcite formations of nebulous geometries, reflection pools, cave pearls, etc. etc. There is so much to see in one moment, that you have to allow your eyes to adjust to shift between light and dark so as to fully appreciate the many layers of complexity before you. There were moments of intrique, moments of anticipation, and even moments of comedy such as when we did not know what to expect finding our way to the Wall of Vietnam, only to discover that the typical water route had receded to a slippery gaunlet of mud. But nothing is ever a disappointment, as the more free-spirited folks in the group decided the playing in mud is a good way to the end the day.
With Oxalis, camping was always well-organized, with excellent meals such that you cannot imagine that the experience could be any better. When you make your way out of Son Doong and look behind you, it is only a dream and with wonderment that you could be so privileged to have been there.
The trek itself is of medium difficulty (from my experience), requiring some endurance to maintain a reasonable pace especially on the trek back if it is warm. All critical details are cared for by the Oxalis team, which includes the expedition leader, guides, porters, chef. Park rangers are always accompanying. For one's own benefit, it is wise to be mindful of how to optimize use of clothing to reduce too much load for the porters, to bring some simple way to clean such as camping body wipes, to try to have suitable shoes that are versatile enough to hike in the jungle, to cross rivers, to grip slippery rocks, and to trudge through mud. Experienced backpackers will likely be well-prepared to travel lightly through here and make the most of as little equipment as possible. For photographers: your equipment will certainly suffer from the conditions within the cave, but they will survive if cared for properly. More rugged cameras would be well-advised, such as those with casings.
This is the best trekking experience we have ever had, and was well worth any aching muscles, painful joints, scrapes and bruises that we consider souvenirs of the experience!
It's a once in a lifetime experience. I booked my trek with Oxalis. It's the number one & only choice company! Everyone are super nice and the porters are superb. Make sure you bring extra cash to tip the crew, they earned very little so every dollar meant a lot to them. The price is worth it when you complete the trek. Do it before this world's wonder trampled by humans. I was lucky my group was the best, we got along great!! It was good times. Important note: if you are fit with good balance and not afraid of narrow paths with slippery rocks then you are good to go. Everything is wet, you will be wet at least from knee to waist everyday. If you are an adventurer and fit the guide might take you go back to the hotel and money is wasted.
My brother and I just finished the Son Doong Tour run by Oxalis. They are FIRST CLASS all the way. Luke and Jaimie are excellent and helpful in dealings with trips and bookings, and once we arrived in Phong Nga, everyone was very helpful to get us settled in.
We had Howard Limbert and Adam Spillane as our cave experts and they were Top Class. Not only were they very knowledgeable and gave us a lot of useful information about formation of the caves etc, but they also shared a lot of great stories about the previous expeditions and adventures.
I am not fond of heights, but Howard and Adam were superb in putting me at ease. Howard and Adam were just great gentlemen and were extremely patient and supportive all the way. The porter team was also great and friendly! If I had a difficult climb, one of the porters were always there to lend a helping hand. Food was excellent all the way.
The scenery is an absolute wonder and scenes from the two dominoes were the most amazing views I have ever seen. I found myself still thinking about the trip a full week after coming back. I could not recommend this more highly to anyone, it will truly be a trip of a lifetime!
One word of caution, it is a physically demanding trip as you will be climbing up and down more than 3000m the whole trip. But it was well worth it.
Son Doong went over and above my expectations and so did the trek to get there went over and above my physical/mental limitations. I'm glad the price is as is cause that makes it an exclusive trip for only the serious ones. Hope they keep it that way to preserve this natural wonder of wonders. Oxalis is doing fantastic work at honouring the flora and fauna respecting mother nature and maintaining the cave's pure state. They dont touch or move anything and the group is fully well briefed before and during the expedition. They are extremely professional and know what they are doing. The porters, local and the English tour guides all work in harmony and hard to give the group a great experience in a safe manner. Note: the terrain will challenge to its utmost one's fear of heights/drops, balance, sure footedness, physical stamina. The Oxalis team provides the encouragement, support and assistance to see you through. I believe because Oxalis looks after that land so genuinely somehow each one in the group makes it unscathed with Son Doong's blessings! That's how i made it:)
I had the fortune of turning 62 during this expedition and I enjoyed the whole experience from start to finish. The cave defied credulity, stretched the imagination, and blew the top out of 'awesome'. We, 10 guests (supported by 20 porters and guides) spent 5 days hiking, climbing, mud slopping, wading and scrambling into, out of, and through a different world. It felt like we had traveled back in time with jungle mists forming at the entrance of the cave, stalagmites and stalactites looking like oozing mud monsters, waterfalls coming out of the ceiling, the sound of rivers coming from deep cracks, delicate formations that could only form from millions of years of evaporation, but could be destroyed by one swipe of a hand, black rock carved and sculpted smooth by yearly raging floods, and, above all, the constant awareness of the immensity of it all; the walls sometimes rose so high that the blackness swallowed the flashlight beam. The only thing that can match the sheer magnitude of the experience is spending time in the Grand Canyon.
Oxalis Expeditions took excellent care of us. The food was delicious, the guides attentive and helpful, and everything handled in a professional, experienced manner. I would do it again in a heartbeat. This was a trip that has raised the bar for this seasoned traveler.
I will never make it to outer space so I did the next best thing. Son Doong is another world and will stay with me forever. It was an honour to meet Mr. Ho Khanh who discovered the cave so many years ago. To explore it with members of the original British caving expedition was like being on the moon with the original astronauts. I truly feel privileged to have had this opportunity. Their passion for the cave is highly infectious. Their respect and care for it is reassuring.
Was it expensive? Yes, but worth every penny and then some when you consider the logistics involved and the excellent level of service, equipment, staff, safety and the care taken for the cave and its environment. Son Doong is in good hands with the Oxalis company. It is evident they respect and care for this treasure. I feel every cent was well deserved in part because of this but mostly because I could see how the money was spent.
You must be very fit and have great stamina. This is not an easy trip. It. Is. A . Challenge! For 5 days you will be trekking through the jungle in extreme heat and humidity, climbing over slippery, sharp rocks in near dark and climbing down again, crossing too many rivers to count both above and below ground and dealing with elements foreign to most of us. The over 50 kilometres are not easy ones. You will be camping and cannot expect to be clean, dry or particularly comfortable in this world. Be honest about your abilities and realistic about physical comfort in these conditions. Good hydration is not just extremely important; it is vital! Drink and then drink some more. Do not worry about having to urinate, you will sweat it out. I averaged 3 litres a day on the trail and drank a lot in camp.
Take every piece of advice Oxalis gives you seriously. They know what they are talking about. You are in good hands.
There are no adequate words to prepare you for the beauty of the caves. Pictures cannot do it true justice either in my opinion. You have to be there to understand that. You will have moments that are surreal and they will blow your mind! Remember that very few people have had this opportunity. To put it into perspective; more people have been to space and climbed Everest than have been here. This is truly something unique.
A waterproof camera or even a go pro are a must. You will have a hard time deciding which shots to take and will relish poring over them again and again. My only problem is..... What could possibly top this?
I went with Oxalis tours on the 5D expedition through Son Doong. This is one of the most beautiful and mind blowing places I have ever been. I still find it hard to fathom how it was only discovered a couple of years ago, but once you are in the jungle trekking there you can kind of understand. The natural beauty of this place is inspiring and just makes you forget about everything else in the world, and you can just fully relax.
The cave itself is beautiful, but even the hiking to/from the cave is amazing. The scenery is constantly changing, even in the cave, which I continuously from breathtaking. You literally never could get bored in here, as there is always so much to discover and see.
The trip itself was not as difficult as I was anticipating, which was very good for me. I'm not saying the trip was easy at all though, I think I just I over-estimated what it would be. There were a lot of rope crossings and descending on ropes, which I don't particularly enjoy, so that was a bit nerve racking at times, but I always felt safe.
I wish I could experience this trip all over again. Pictures in no way do it any justice, so I find myself just closing my eyes and taking myself back to the cave.
My hope is that the natural beauty of Son Doong and the surrounding caves and area will not be destroyed with mass tourism. It would honestly break my heart to see a cable car go through Son Doong. It would never be the same, and the pollution that would be created would be devastating to the area.
Son Doong is truly a wonder of the world, and I am so lucky that I was able to experience it.
I was fortunate to be able to book the Son Doong Cave tour with Oxalis Tours. My trip started on 31st July 2015. All of my arrangements with Oxalis were handled efficiently and professionally. The safety briefing the night before our tour was comprehensive and ensured we knew what we heading into. Our 2 Britishcaving experts, Watto and Sweeney were brilliant with plenty of good humour and fun yet with our safety always paramount. Trang our Vietnamese caving guide was excellent.. The variety and quality of food was good. This is a difficult trek so be prepared to be physically and mentally challenged. The best investment I made for the trip was my 510 canyoneering boots (SAR model), I had to buy these from America as I was unable to find an Australian stockist close to me. These boots provided great comfort during the many river crossings and excellent grip over the boulders in the cave. Others on the same trip struggled at times with inferior footwear. Yes the trip is expensive but when you look at what is involved the cost pales into insignificance.
There are already pages of reviews attempting to explain how incredible and beautiful Hang Son Doong is. Others also address how great Oxalis is in organizing this tour. This is all very true.
However, I'd like to focus my review on addressing the question of "is it worth $3000?" First of all, by the time you factor in the boots, clothes, camp headlight, other gear, a couple days hotel before (the night before the tour is free), mandatory adventure sport insurance, tip, and other things, the cost will be closer to $4000 unless you already own the gear. And that doesn't include your flight.
(Note: I signed up for a travel credit card and used the son doong payment to meet the signup bonus. This, combined with points I already had, got me a free roundtrip flight to Asia. Maybe this could help somebody save money.)
A bit about me to add perspective: I took 6 months off of school for a Co-Op, saving up the money which ended up going toward my trip to Asia. I drive a 21 year old pick up truck, and live with 3 other roommates. My point is that I can definitely appreciate the $3700 which it ended up costing me.
I am 100% happy that I did the tour. It was absolutely worth it. To compare with some other places I've gone: Macchu Picchu, Foz do Iguacu, Halong Bay, Bali, the Grand Canyon, Alaska... Son Doong is my favorite.
If you think about the price, it is less expensive than many 'adventures,' including the trek up kilimanjaro (which seems much less exciting to me). And on a final note, this tour is not guaranteed to continue forever. There is a big push to install a cable car through it, and build a golf course resort next to it. (I wish I was kidding.) I've also heard that the Vietnamese government wants to make more money, and may increase the tax per person on the tour (it is already a huge chunk of the $3000 tour price). If you want to do it, I'd book 2017's tour in August when bookings go live.
I've been dying to visit Hang Son Doong since first reading about it in National Geographic. To be able to actually set foot in the cave and see nature at its most untouched has been a dream come true. I felt that it was totally worth the money to meet the Oxalis Team and fellow trekkers and get to spend two nights in neighboring cave Hang En (nights 1 and 4) and Hang Son Doong itself (nights 2 and 3).
Oxalis have done their very best to ensure that every part of your journey is comfortable. Our British tour guides Adam and Ruth were consistently professional (Adam is hilarious to boot with loads of great stories) and our Vietnamese guide Bao, porter team, and chefs always kept us comfortable and extremely well-fed. You are not going to go hungry on this trek. It is amazing what the porters carry along and whip up from scratch. There is also plenty of time to take photos and the guides will often stop you and point out great photo opportunities.
Some tips for those going on the Hang Son Doong trips:
Bring one or two extra phone charger packs. There is no electricity once you start off on the trek.
Any shoes with great traction on slippery surfaces are your friend. I took Scarpa high-top hiking shoes and they did beautifully although didn't dry completely. Five-Tens are great but not necessary if you don't plan on canyoning again anytime soon and already have some hiking boots with good traction. A second pair of shoes is a must for around camp at night.
Bring at least five pairs of Smart Wool Socks or leech-proof socks with tight weave that go at least above your ankle if not mid-calf.
A head torch is essential.
A 20L backpack is truly the perfect size.
Put your shoes and socks around the campfire as soon as possible to dry on night 2. On Day 3, you actually get to keep your feet dry the entire day if you're lucky and drying the shoes out the night before will make for a comfortable day.
Bring a dry bag for inside of your pack or an entirely waterproof pack if you'd like (only required for if you actually lose your balance and fall in the river)
Do not bring trekking poles. They will only be a nuisance for you. This is from someone who normally loves to use them.
My favorite thing that I brought were my thick running tights ($20-$30). These are actually better for the flexibility required for climbing and crawling through all the terrain and don't feel as wet as long trekking pants/trousers do. They also don't get as heavy after being soaked and dried a lot faster than my Mountain Hard Wear pants ($100) from Day 1. I would bring four pairs of these running tights if possible. Make sure that they are not see-through.
I enjoyed every moment of the trek and slept better than I have in a long time. Thank you, Oxalis and fellow trekkers, for an incredible experience that felt straight out of Jurassic Park (keep your eyes peeled for dinosaur eggs - you'll know what I mean) I would love to go back some day!
We just finished the 5 day Son Doong trip with Oxalis and it was well worth the price. This is a high class operation all the way. For 10 customers there is a support staff of 30 people- cave experts, guides, cooks, and porters. They carry all your stuff, cook all your meals, set up and take down all of the camp sites, answer all of your questions and ensure that everyone is safe throughout the entire trip. If anyone was at all uncomfortable at any point they provided extra help and attention as needed/wanted. On top of that, the caves are just amazing. It's a 2 in 1 since you go through Hang An to get to Son Doong and the treks through the jungle were pretty incredible too. To top it off, at the end of the tour they took us to a beautiful resort to relax and decompress overnight. I would highly recommend this trip!
We joined the 2nd photography tour this year and I still can't believe we did this lifetime trip. Son Doong cave is definitely a unique place in our world. We found as we were in a different planet.
Oxalis is by far the most professional company I've ever worked with. They care for every single guest during the challenging trip. Everything was planned perfectly and we found very comfortable and enjoyable. The guides and the porters are great, very friendly and supportive. They even arranged a bus to Paradise cave with no extra fee the last day we stayed at Phong Nha. So much thank to Howard and Deb, Trung, Vu, Quang, An, Khanh and all the team for an amazing trip.
I had high expectations for this trip after reading the very positive reviews left here by others. Ultimately, the expedition exceeded all expectations and delivered in every aspect possible. I cannot recommend this trip enough - it truly was a once in a lifetime experience.
Service: Terrific. The Oxalis team were always friendly, helpful and completely efficient in every manner. On our last day we made a very late decision to change our flight home and thanks to the Oxalis team our transport to the airport the next morning was changed at the very last minute (thanks, Mo!). During the actual expedition, I never felt uneasy about any of the climbing or trekking. There was always someone next to me to help me over a tricky boulder or to pull me up onto a ledge. We were fortunate to have Howard, Watto and Bamboo as our guides who imparted knowledge about the caves, local environment and Vietnam throughout the whole trip. They made sure we were always having a great time whether it be on the trekking routes or around the dinner table.
The cave: words cannot express how magnificent Son Doong cave really is. It's something that has to be experienced (though the photos posted to this page are great indication). I've never seen such a wide range of geological features in one place.
The food: I like to think of myself as a foodie and the chefs on this trip did not disappoint. I never went to bed hungry. We were so well fed and the food was delicious. There was always plenty of snacks and we always had food leftover at the end of meals because there was so much of it.
Packing recommendations for future adventurers:
1. Good shoes. I bought the recommended Five Tens and it was totally worth it. Wear them in before you arrive to avoid blisters.
2. Plasters - I didn't get as many blisters as I expected but compeed worked a treat
3. Smart Wool socks - five pairs (one pair for each day). Your feet get wet and it's not always easy to dry clothes in the evenings so ensure you have a fresh set for each day.
4. Quick dry pants / leggings - I brought three sets of Nike Dry Fit full length leggings which worked perfectly. They are flexible enough for climbing, are good in the heat and cold water, and dry very quickly.
5. Gloves - Oxalis supply gloves but if you want to buy your own I recommend Black Diamond Trekker gloves. They weren't too hot and very comfortable.
6. Gaiters - I bought Salomon Trial Gaiters and found them very comfortable. Nothing keeps out leeches but I think these definitely helped keep silt, sand and mud from getting into my socks.
7. Rehydration tablets or sachets - especially helpful for the first evening when you'll have been trekking through the jungle in the heat.
8. Lots of quick dry underwear - a set for each day and a set for each evening in camp
9. Flip flops - walking around camp and popping to the loo
10. Blow up air mattress - a small one that is easy to compress and light to carry
11. Dry Sack - I brought two (one for my backpack and one for the porter back). This kept everything dry.
1. Bring a camera and a small tripod - there are so many fantastic photo opportunities on this trips. Your guides will be able to help you get the best possible photos but it really pays to have a good camera with you.
2. Swimsuits - consider wearing this under your clothes on the days were there are bathing opportunities. That will ensure you have quick and easy access to the water.
3. Stretch - a quick stretch in the morning goes a long way. No pulled muscles!
4. Chefs - watch them prepare some of the food in camp. They'll let you join in if appropriate.
5. Evening entertainment - invite the porters to play cards, they'll love it! We were also told about previous groups who brought a lightweight, portable projectors into the cave to watch movies in the evening. We didn't, but what a cool idea!
6. Rice wine - beware. You'll have a good time but it can be stronger than you expect.
7. Phong Nha - head to Easy Tiger for some drinks on your last night. Free wifi and beer.
Thank you, Oxalis for a terrific time. It truly was a very special week. Hope to see you all again!
Difficult to put into words how incredible the whole experience was. Oxalis, from my first log on, to departure on to my flight out, is a top notch expertly run organization. I was very fortunate to have great travel companions which added to the whole adventure. As people have expressed, pictures do not show the vastness of the caves. I have hiked the Inca Trail, Amazon Rainforest and climbed Mr. Rainer, this expedition has topped all of those. The food was excellent and varied and no one got sick. Our British guides Howard & Watto were engaging and always looking out for our health and safety. I got to know the porters when they carried all of your gear – and they are a great group of hard working locals. The last night with them put a great end to the trip; they are really the backbone of the expedition. Suggestion, go easy on the rice wine. I had Bestard boots, which saved my ankles from the rocks, but I might go with the 510. I had zip off camp pants, I would go with leggings/running tights/yoga pants. Bring something for the village you pass through on your way in, like pencils/books; return the favor to the community that hosts you. At the second campsite you can go scout for fossils. At the end of that hike down there is a big crack where you can go swimming, for me one of the highlights of the hike. The cost may seem high but, I can say truly say it feels like I have been to the center of the earth, or traveled to another planet…
I agree with all of the Excellent reviews. I will just add that although one needs to be reasonably fit, the walking is not extreme. I am a fit 52 yo, and the walking was mostly easy, and only strenuous for short periods. This trip is more about the diverse experiences and opportunities to walk through jungle and rivers, scramble over rocks, climb steep rocky inclines and absail down with expert guidance and best quality equipment in order to see the spectacular cave.
The operation is professional; hygiene, sleeping comfort, food, photography, all well considered. I was very happy throughout this trip and was very lucky to have a great group of people to do it with.
Words cannot describe this amazing place. The interior of the cave were absolutely spectacular and all the limestone formations were like nothing I have ever seen before (and I am a geologist). The cave itself so enormous that it has its own rain forest. Truly spectacular!! It felt like we had traveled to a different world and if a dinosaur would have walked pass the camp, no one would have thought it was a strange thing. It was a hard trek in the cave, lots of bouldering, crawling, climbing and water passages, so be prepared. Still totally worth every bruise and cent!
Unfortunately the Vietnamese government have plans to build cable cars inside the cave which will totally destroy this amazing experience... So hurry up before it is too late! Save Son Doong!!
Jules Verne fan anyone? This cave is like Journey to the centre of the earth where you travel back in time 250 000 000 years ago to witnessed untouched natural cave formations and unique cave species. Unique fish, insects and plant species are common place and the view is no less than staggering.
Not sure I'll ever see anything like it again.
This trip exceeded my expectations on all levels. Definitely a must see if you're in the area and can afford it. The cave is mixture of many kinds terrain for trekking and hiking. The scenery and views are so rewarding ! Nothing can compare to this experience. It is like journey to centre of the earth.
The best cave in the region and the most unique! do not miss this one! Simply beautiful and a great way to see what nature is capable of
Fortunate to be on main Sơn Đoòng cave passage, as it is the largest known cave passage in the world by volume. You need to be there.
This trip was quite simply flawless. Oxalis's execution of each step of the process from booking to completion was outstanding. Son Doong is breathtakingly beautiful, a trip well worth the cost, and more. Go and see it for yourself!
I had a great trip, hopefully in the future Vietnam has many such tours. These experience are not to be forgotten , I will miss Son Doong very much. Thanks Oxalis staged a memorable trip. Thanks my friends, those of you who accompanied me on the trip.
This trek is truly an amazing experience. If you love caves, this trek is for you. Worth all the money. Only regret is that I did it in June and the weather was way too hot and humid for me. I should have booked March-May. However, the beauty of the place made me forget the heat most of the times.
From the very first email contact with Mo to waving goodbye to the Oxalis crew everything ran completely smoothly and I had a fantastic time.
Special thanks to Dave (for my Bookface profile picture), Ruth and Binh and the entire porter crew. Son Doong cave is obviously spectacular in itself, the food and equipment is great and everything is well organised, but it's the people that takes you there makes all the difference. Thank you to everyone.
For anyone thinking this tour is expensive it is worth every penny!
The Oxalis team has provided a safe (if you stick with their instructions), environment-friendly, well-supported trek. River crossings, traversing huge cave with some sections a challenge but not too difficult, long mud river trek to see the Wall. Sublime camp sites near the beautiful dolines, especially if you have the foggy weather. Overall, a most enjoyable experience.
We did the 5 day caving tour to Son Doong Cave with Oxalis and it was defintely one of the greatest adventures trips we've ever did, including stunning hikes through really untouched nature, great caving guides (Thanks again to Seven, Watto, Dave) and a fantastic team of porters ensuring you will feel as comfortable as possible, serving fantastic vietnamese food every day. Further it was just great to see how the Oxalis Team really lives protecting the nature and the environment in this area, ensuring that this place will remain as it is and hopefully will never become a mass tourist attraction with crazy cable cars. I can also strongly recommend this trip for semi or professional photographers. The caves offer scenaries you'll probably find no where else in the world. Just enjoy!!!
The cave is mixture of many kinds terrain for trekking and hiking.
There are up-hill, down-hill, climbing rock, jogging forest, and walking in the sand like at beach with beautiful places for camping.
The most amazing thing to me is a big river in the cave, very clean and clear. Its dry if no rain, a lot of mug if rain and become river in rainy season. Luckily, I went in Aug2015, rainy season there so I enjoyed kayak with inner tubes of tire for around 500metres.
The second wonderful thing is the various green under the dolines, some with huge trees, some with small plants.
The last thing interests me is the small village Ban Doong with 33 people living in the middle of valley.
A place you should visit if you love nature and adventure.
Every week I think about how amazing the five days in Hang Son Doong were. Definitely a must see if you're in the area and can afford it. I sacrificed going to Europe to go on this your while backpacking in Vietnam and never looked back. Would not take it back for anything. Go there while you can, it is definitely the most majestic and amazing thing I've seen. Still can't believe I was lucky enough to go.
Oxalis is seriously world-class. They take every precaution, are extremely prepared, and literally know more about the cave than anyone else. The tour was completely worth the money.
Amazing Son Dong. I am a tour guide at Buffalo's Adventures, last week I guided a tour from Hoi An to Phong Nha national park and to Son Dong cave. It was amazing... just amazing as I do't have enough words to say how it beautiful is. This is must be paradise in the earth. try the best to visit it once in your life:)
This trek isn't for everyone. Fitness is a requirement due to the nature of the trekking and caving.
Rock climbing, bouldering and hiking are all daily activities during this adventure.
This is a high-end camping adventure. You do the adventuring while 20+ porters carry your supplies plus the kitchen. Meals worthy of restaurants are served each night (as well as excellent breakfast and lunches).
The sights we saw were breathtaking. Seeing such a large cave with two sections caved in (dolines) was hard to wrap my brain around.
I am very happy with my experience and would recommend it to my adventure-loving friends.
I can understand the number of "Excellent" feedbacks: you should be brave enough to confess you spent US$ 3000 and got less then you expected. I did it one year ago and still can't put my feelings about this experience in order. From one side the cave is great, and the trekking is more then unusual. But from the other side, as a geologist, I did see the number of caves more impressive and more colorful. Actually Son Doong is just the name "biggest cave of the world", and without such name no one would pay attention on it.
I really do not know how to describe the cave in proper words: big, impressive, but… plain and simple. And finally you have feeling you spent US$ 3000 for something what doesn't cost so.
Well, price factor has matter as well. Of course, this trip is overpriced: as I understand, Oxalis has the monopoly for this cave and with such brand as "biggest cave" they can charge as much as they wish. They try to run tour smoothly, but still some issues arise: the tent was old and dirty (very dirty), and my self-inflating mattress was broken from the beginning, so for 4 nights I was sleeping on the floor.
The attitude of the team is great: cook, porters, all these little boys do their job great - you can see how they care about you (except the things out of their hands as mattress).
And there was one more feature showing another face. After the tour the manager of Oxalis came to us and begged for the tips for the porters and other workers. It was the point of the shock: dear pals, you charge US$ 500 per day and can not pay your workers properly? I believe you can, just start to think not only about your own sake.
Briefly I can conclude my feedback here: it is for real cave lovers, who can not live without caves. For other people I would strictly recommend to spend the money for something else.
Once in a lifetime experience. This cave system is magnificent and every minute of it is stunning. The sheer magnitude cannot be encompassed by pictures, nor can the beauty. Its a phenomenal trek, and being that it is so limited right now you truly are alone out there (minus the 2 british cave experts, 9 other trekkers, 20ish porters, and vietnamese guides). Oxalis does a phenomenal and extremely professional job and I would 100% tell anyone who is remotely interested to jump on this trek as soon as you can.
According to "Good Morning America," less people have explored this cave than outer space. You could fit an 80 story sky scraper in doline 2, or 2 747 airplanes side by side where the jungle is.
Such a dream. The bucket list item to top them all.
Son Doong Cave can be visited only through a tour organized by Oxalis Adventure Tours. About the company: great service from my first email inquiry through the end of my trip. The behind-the-scene organization that goes into making the cave tours such an amazing experience is fantastic. Wonderful staff all the way around. About the tour: Son Doong Cave was, well, I'm not sure I've found the correct word yet. Incredible, The formations within the cave were beautiful-a work of art in progress. The fun of maneuvering the cave-so nice to have an active vacation. The views. The beautiful scenery on the way there. Such a great experience all the way around!!!!
As a fan of caves this is basically the most spectacular experience I could imagine. It was a HUGE splurge for me financially but so glad I took the financial risk. I couldn't imagine a more memorable way to spend the money.
Loved it on both a giant and small scale - the world's largest stalagmite to incredible small formations at every step.
Oxalis were wonderful. They were wonderful at accommodating vegan and vegetarian diets.
My only regret is I wish I had followed their advice and brought better shoes as is was 5 days of walking on slippery rocks.
I just returned from Vietnam and Son Doong Cave expedition with Oxalis is the highlight of it ! We had to climb ropes, cross endless rivers, get really dirty in mud and walked for hours everyday. However, the scenary and views were so rewarding ! Nothing can compared to this experience. It was like journey to centre of the earth.. Raw and pure gem. Shoes with strong grip is needed to ensure a good grip on the slippery boulders. Be prepared and this will definitely be the trip you will remember for long time.
This was the most challenging, exhilarating, exhausting, and difficult thing I have ever done. You need to train and train hard to do this trip. You get wet, hot, muddy and exhausted walking through the jungle then climbing down into the cave. There is plenty of support, 20 to 25 porters, 2 cooks a couple of guides and a couple of British Cavers to look after you. The cave is not claustrophobic, it is HUGE, you see so many formations that are unique to this area. It takes 5 days and 4 nights but the cave is not dark all the time, you camp near dolines in your own tent. There is no washing facilities, just a couple of streams. Listen to the guides and the cavers they are there to help you. Tanh was always near by when I needed a hand. I will never do anything like this again, at 66 I was told am the oldest woman to go through the cave and I loved every minute of it. Was it expensive, yes it was but well worth the money, there is so many people to support you and make sure everyone is safe.
Imagine your are Gollum in the lord of the rings for 5 days. Incredible.
A bit slow from time to time if you're stuck with some less agile guests as well as keen photographers. I would be VERY SPECIFIC when you inform them on what your expectations are. I personally didn't like the photography marathon. stop-photo-stop-photo-stop-photo-rest-photo etc.
It's a facebook/instagram setup rather than an adventurous one.
Still great but watch out so that you don't get stuck with a group of slow people or wide load Americans.
If you are up at Quảng Bình you have to see this amazing caves,
they go for kilometer and are 10 stores plus high. Very nice light
reflection inside with many dept colours, large pillars hanging up and down, different section inside creating a total different natural landscape while you taking it all in, take a good camera with you and you will get some nice pictures.
I just completed the Son Doong Trek and I can honestly say it was the best thing I have ever experienced in my life. Although I have a terrible fear of heights, I was never really afraid for my safety thanks to the wonderful guides and porters from Oxalis who were always there to help me whenever I needed some reassurance - especially Ruth, Dave and Seven. There are literally no words to describe how beautiful and unspoilt this magnificent cave is so I encourage anyone who has the ability to see it to do it as soon as possible - there are rumours of installing a cable car to get to Son Doong which in my opinion would ruin the entire experience so don't wait - DO IT NOW! Bear in mind though that it is tough if you're not extremely fit or you have difficulty scrambling over boulders, climbing ropes, or you are unsure of your footing on slippery, steep surfaces. By the way, as we were warned in the briefing, don't expect to come on this trip and lose weight as you get fed a lot (and I do mean a lot) of top class, delicious food - thanks cook!
Best trip ever! Son Doong is the 8th Wonder of the World. Oxalis is a brilliant bunch of people to do it with. Adam, Dave, Bamboo, Jamie and others - all awesome. Trip was hard (50km of hiking and caving) but worth every penny. 99% of people will never get to experience something like this in their lifetime. The most haunting, alien landscape I've ever seen. Raw natural beauty. And Rice Wine.
This trip was so amazing, I don't think I will ever experience anything better in my life. The rest of the world seems to pale in comparison. Every one of the staff was amazing, especially, Jamie, Adam, Dave, Bamboo, and Quang!
I have never seen so many amazing views in my life. Heaven is truly on earth and if you can do the Hang Son Doong trip, you really should. I have been humbled many times on the trip, not only by the spectacular things nature is capable of creating, but from the people that I met during my trip.
Oddly enough, the food we had was top notch! Chef made 10 course meals every night and we scarfed it down and still had left overs.
If you would like a more detailed version of my trip, please visit my blog- http://threeobeforethreeo.blogspot.com/2015/04/1-trekking-through-hell-to-find-heaven.html. I hope it is helpful.
Thank you Oxalis for making this trip available! It was an adventure of a life time.
This is an expedition I truly could not recommend highly enough. I will never forget this trip; the guides, the expert cavers and even the porters made it truly amazing. We were the first tourist group to go through the cave in 2015 and managed to get in at what I think was the perfect time. We've been told it can get quite warm trekking to and from the cave towards the middle of the year, however you are always in more than capable hands and there are always opportunities to rest. A word of warning that the trekking and climbing can be quite tough if you aren't physically prepared but once again you are never without help or without the chance to rest. Take a decent camera, but make sure you're able to keep it dry because there are a few wet areas, particularly if it rains. A truly unforgettable expedition and something I'll be telling people about for the rest of my life.
About a year ago, I saw an article about the Son Doong Cave (Mountain River Cave) on the internet. After a bit more research, I was determined to visit this true natural wonder of the world. It evoked memories of magical JulesVernesque places that are rare occurrences in our current connected world. A true lost world, albeit without the dinosaurs, dotted with wonderful adaptations in plants and insects.
A bit more internet searching and calls later, I was booked in to the trip with a friend Christopher, with Oxalis Adventure Tours for the beginning of the month of June 2014. We were the last guys to secure a place for 2014. The Oxalis guys were very organised and had prompt replies for everything, and moreover were the only authorised tour operators allowed into the cave. Seeing as the costs involved were by no means minimal, the question in my mind was always, "Would it be worth it?". Being a new tour, there were not enough reviews on the place. Without wasting time with a wordy review, I can tell you one thing straight up, it was definitely more than worth the money. The Oxalis team plays a huge part in this feeling too.
Son Doong is a Magnum Opus to the natural wonders of the world and a testimony to what nature is possible of, without the interference of mankind. It is by far the best place I've been to and is truly a once-in-a-lifetime adventure experience.
From a photography perspective, working with a simple camera, photographing this place was definitely a challenge with the contrasting bright lighting and dark sections in the cave and the camera fogging up constantly. The whole group was very helpful in setting up the various shots and this included them standing still, pointing lights, light painting, coordination via radio, etc. The tour is organised with photography as a key ingredient and being the team who organised for the National Geographic guys, they certainly know where the best places and shots can be taken from. They were very patient with me and my friend, who are both amateur photography enthusiasts. So a special thank you to the team for that.
The sad thing is that the cave is planned to be commercialised by the government (cable cars supposedly), which would take away from the experience and most possibly destroy the delicate ecosystem of the cave. Oxalis tours have organised this tour in the most natural and eco-friendly way possible. I hope that these commercial plans don't take place and this wonderful natural heritage is preserved for the future generations to experience.
I'll let the pictures do the talking now. They're in a chronological order and includes our arrival in the Phong Nha village (sort of the base camp), visits to nearby caves, a trek through a minority village and also features the Hang En Cave (Swallow Cave), through which we have to trek to get to the Son Doong Cave.
Sitting at my desk now, writing this, I really can't emphasize how much I miss that Zen like space, undisturbed, unperturbed.
~ Sarath Sreekumar
-Me and my friend were the first Indian citizens in the cave, something I am proud of. Some pictures of that in the end.
-Sorry for the delay in the pictures. Tbh, I was caught up with other stuff and I could not bring myself to do a half-hearted edit job to the great Son Doong.
Some links -
The article that started it all for me:
Oxalis Adventure Tours:
The National geographic article containing pictures and a flyby of the cave:
The link to the source album (accessible by anyone), share with anyone that might be interested:
If you have the money to spare definitely visit Son Doong!! This may be the last year a trip like this will ever be available :/ I went last March and had an incredible adventure. If you like untouched nature, majestic scenery, and don't mind trekking through the jungle...this is for you. Oxalis is first class and will keep you safe and more then well fed the entire trip. I couldn't recommend this trip more!
Pro Tip: March has ideal weather conditions
did not manage to get the full tour but did manage to arrange to walk to the cave and camp overnight and walk back. this gave a few hours exploring the cave and was well worth the effort - the trip there with the river crossings is a bit of an adventure in itself.
highly recommended which ever way you choose to do it
The Son Doong expedition it's much more than a tour, it's a life experience, and the best you could ever have! The cave is beautiful, the trekking can be hard sometimes, but you always have a lot of time to rest and take pictures. The campsites are in great spots and the food is the best I had in Vietnam.
My group was amazing and I was lucky enough to have Deb and Howard to tell us all the stories and adventures, and Thanh as our vietnamese guide, he is the best! We also had Mr. Minh and Mr. Ky that always hold my hand on the tricky parts. Everybody was always making sure we were ok, they know the best spots for good photos and give you good tips. The porters and the rangers are just fantastic also, we had a lot of fun all together.
I hope they can preserve this cave as it is, because it makes this expedition just mind blowing and perfect just the way it is.
I fell in love with Son Doong right at the first time I read about it on National Geographic in 2011. I couldn't believe such a wonder exist in my own country and I hadn't been there yet - and I had traveled quite a lot, in country as well as abroad. So after 3 years of working out (the expedition does require you to be physically fit) and saving up ($3000 - very cheap compared to Everest for example, but not the most affordable one-week trip for a Vietnamese teacher like I am), I finally signed up. And OMG it didn't disappoint me at all. In fact, I loved every single moment in the cave. I was usually the first one to wake up, just to stare at the mesmerizing doline or simply listen to the birds and the river.
Oh YES, you read that right! There are birds, and rivers, and waterfalls, and lakes inside that cave. Even "rain"!!! (water drippings). The biosystem in Son Doong is mindblown. It's like an entire world underground. Think "Journey to the Center of the Earth" of Jules Verne!!!
And that biosystem is preserved so naturally thanks to the hard work of Oxalis - the only company that has permission to go inside the cave up to now. Without them, I doubt the condition could remain the same after 5 years of discovery.
The trip was made complete by the amazing team that I got to work with. Besides the 7 other tourists (all are super duper cool people from around the world), the Oxalis team - including the 2 UK experts, the tour guide, and the porters - are very helpful, professional, and friendly. But I'll save that for another review on Oxalis - they deserve it!
In conclusion, Son Doong is totally bucket-list worthy. And I hope our national treasure will be protected for our next generations to see. I hope the authority of Quang Binh province will work hand in hand with Oxalis to preserve it like how it is now. At the end of the day, Son Doong cave is not just Vietnam's treasure. It's the new wonder of the world!
The mini expedition to the incomparable Son Doong cave offers a totally unique experience to visit one of the worlds natural wonders. The trip is organised by Oxalis Adventure Tours and is led by Howard and Deb LImbert. They have a superb team of unbelievably fit porters,cooks and guides who carry in all the food and equipment required for this amazing six day adventure. The situations encountered on this trip are difficult to put into simple words but suffice it to say the memories still bring a smile to my face. The three underground campsites which offer mesmerizing views of the sky up through the vast holes in the cave roof,sitting down to enjoy the superb food created on campfires, fantastic ! Much has been made of the sheer size of this cave and the scale is indeed mind-boggling but there are many more subtle delights that await the adventurous. I recommend this adventure wholeheartedly ,many thanks to Howard and Deb and all their super team.
To get to this cave and through it, you need to have signed up for the 6 day 5 night tour with Oxalis Adventure Tours. Oxalis btw did an awesome job with the tour, but I'll leave that for a review on the company.
The cave though. Wow. Seriously so many jaw dropping moments if you are a adventure seeker. this is for you. 220 spots open a year to see this cave during the drier seasons.
Clouds in the cave, awesome fossils, a valley of mud, and leeches thrown into the mix. But the camp sites are also next to beautiful entrances/exits to the cave. Words and pictures cannot begin to describe the sense of wonderment I get from this place.
I hope the Vietnamese Government works closely with Oxalis to maintain this beautiful place, and not let it fall to ruin like some touristy areas.
For this cave, be prepared to get your hands and feet dirty, for your feet to be wet and have a reasonable amount of fitness.
Hit up Oxalis Tours for the package. Don't trust anyone else. Oxalis is the only operator allowed to bring people INTO the caves.
Also , the photo above in the thumbnail is actually Hang En Caves exit. Not Son Doong.
Oxalis is the only adventure tour company allowed to conduct tours to Hang Son Doong, not just to the entrance, but right to the end, at the Great Wall of Vietnam. The Team is of the highest quality, led by Howard and Deb Limbert, with their excellent team of Vietnamese guides, porters, and cooks! The cave was unbelievable, untouched and preserved in the best way possible by Oxalis. I would certainly hope that the cave is left in its pristine condition to be enjoyed by adventure tourists in the future, and not be turned into an easily accessible tourist attraction with cable cars and roads, which would spoil the experience for anyone. The tour needs you to be relatively fit and agile, but the team looks after you as best as you could possibly want them to. The effort needed to reach the caves is paid back in full when you soak in the sights at the dolines. The waiting list to do this tour is long, but if you are lucky enough to get a spot on the trip, you will definitely enjoy this to the fullest!
Oxalis has my complete endorsement as an adventure tour company. They provide the most expert cavers (HUGE SHOUT-OUT to Deb, Watto and Howard), the most incredible Team Leads (another SHOUT OUT to Bamboo and Thang) and unbelievable cooks/porters (final SHOUT OUT to Ming, and Mr Too and all the other impressive hikers that hauled our provisions).
This is the experience of a lifetime, and no one does it better than the Oxalis team. From arrival to departure you are fully taken care of. Their entire team embraces you and answers all needs/questions and even listens to suggestions and ideas. Luke, Jamie and others made this bucket list item one to be remembered for my son and I. He being 18 and the youngest American to tackle this venture, and I with the most surgeries (26)!!! We made quite the pair!!
For anyone headed out to Vietnam-make sure you bring a camelback, hiker shoes with grips, KT tape and a 'sweat-bandana' for the greatest adventure of a lifetime.....SON DOONG CAVE!!!
If this trip is not on your bucket list rectify that immediately! This is a trip of a lifetime and the way it is organised and run by the Oxalis team is of the highest order. A degree of fitness is required but the satisfaction gained from completing the trip is worth any "pain" from the effort. The previous reviews detail the trip very well so I will not repeat here, just to reiterate it is a super experience.
The cave is amazing, but the trip there and back is an adventure you need to be prepared for. The hikes are not long, but the terrain can be very uneven, with steep muddy slopes and jagged rocks. A good sense of balance is necessary, as you will be clambering over rocks both on the trail and in the caves.
Oxalis and their team did a great job with the leadership, the porters and the cooks. The porters carrying 100 pound packs are amazing strong and agile, leaving all the guests in the dust.
The trip involves moving from camp to camp each day overland in the river and in the caves.
The size of the caves is stunning, and the views tremendous. You will be moving through the caves with only the light of your headlamps, wading rivers across sand banks and massive boulder piles and climbing up and down near vertical slopes on ropes. The water erodes the stone to very sharp edges, so gloves are essential.
On our trip the leader had to turn back one guest, and two others went with him, the first day when it was apparent that he would not be able to handle the trails ahead.
This was an excellent experience and one that I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to do.
Untouched by the Vietnam War, this cave is really something not to be missed, it is truly awesome and would be an ideal setting for a film. Full of history the Champa Tribe used to worship here centuries ago. The stalctites and stagmites are each so unique, some like gothic church ceilings, others like faces and birds of prey. Ones imagination goes wild in there! It is so beautiful and romantic. You even get to leave the boat and walk around sandbank, which is more mysterious.
Whatever you do, DON'T STAY AT THE NEARBY SAIGON PHONGNHA HOTEL... even just for one night, it is horrible, damp smelling and very soulless, also the service couldn't be more indifferent. I even noticed fleas on my bed.
Being a part of the 1st ever tour group to visit the cave is a bit special. And being 1st Australian adventurer to visit the cave was pretty cool too.
There were people from the UK, USA, Norway, Canada, Russia and Australia on the Trip. We were out for 6 days and 5 nights with Howard, Deb and Mr Tinh from "Oxalis Adventure Tours" that gave us a spectacular expedition. Enough cannot be said for Mr Ho Khanh's contribution to the trip and the awesome team of porters, cooks and camp attendants he manages.
I am feeling a bit "Dr Livingstone" about the whole affair.
The trip over 5 nights included 2 nights camping in Hag En which is an epic place besides Hang Son Duong. We spent 4 days and 3 nights camping in Hang Son Doong and were catered for in a fashion that is hard to describe to someone who hasn't banqueted in a place that is very remote. The tents were put up and packes down on sandy beaches daily for us and they even served a red wine with dinner. Very Stanley in the Congo service. lol.
And the cave, What can I say. Awesome! Simply Awesome.
So glad I went. Thanks to the team at Oxalis and Ho Khanh and his merry Men!
I can say for certain that Son Doong Cave is the most beautiful cave I've ever seen. It is truly an amazing cave created by nature. However it is still new; going there is an adventure for me. If you want to visit Son Doong, you should gather enough information and prepare yourself better to get an unforgettable trip.