With the discovery of the world’s largest cave early last year, international visitors have been putting down huge sums of cash to explore its forests and waterfalls.
Vietnam’s beaches and mountains are popular draws for tourists visiting Vietnam but there’s one attraction that takes the cake – Son Doong (which literally translates to Mountain River), the world’s largest known cave.
The Son Doong cave was discovered in 1991, but the steep drop into its mouth scared locals away. According to lore, locals were afraid of the cave because of the shrill whistling sound made by its fast-flowing underground river.
British cavers were the first to explore the cave in 2009. And what they found was like nothing they’d ever seen — not only does the 5 mile-long cave sport numerous waterfalls and even a forest, but at one point it’s tall enough to fit a 40 story skyscraper.
As one can imagine, the forest within the mouth of the cave supports a web of life and the cave itself contains many unique geological features. Monkeys enter the cave to eat snails and poisonous centipedes are found in abundance throughout. Abnormally large cave beads the size of baseballs have been found on its floor, and huge drops and unusually sharp rock formations are plentiful.
Small tour operators now have government approval to guide travelers through the Son Doong cave. Last August, the first group of individuals from Australia, Norway, Russia, the United States and the UK paid $3000 each to trek through the cave.
The beauty and diversity within the cave adds to the appeal as well as the risks of exploring. In spite of the risks, the remoteness and high cost, there’s a long waiting list explore the cave. Or maybe these are the things that explain its newfound popularity.
Vietnam is truly full of surprises.
Brian has spent the last 10 years working in digital marketing, both on the agency and publisher side. He is the co-founder of Saigoneer.com, one of Vietnam’s leading English-language websites that specializes in local content and website development.