Sơn Đoòng cave which directly translates to “Mountain River” is a remarkable cave in Vietnam. Presently the largest known cave in the world, the cave is located near the Laos–Vietnam border. It is so immense that it has a huge, fast-current underground river, which used to scare the natives with the noise it can generate.
Sơn Đoòng Cave was found not too long ago by a local named Hồ-Khanh in 1991. Not until four years ago in 2009 did the place become public knowledge. This happened after a team of scientists from the British Cave Research Association, headed by Howard and Deb Limbert, performed a survey in Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng that ended April 2009. Their work was stopped by a huge calcite wall.
The Limberts say that the cave is five times bigger than the Phong Nha Cave, which used to be thought of as the biggest in Vietnam. The largest chamber of Sơn Đoòng is more than five kilometers long, is 200 meters high and a cavernous 150 meters wide.
With these dimensions, Sơn Đoòng is much larger than Deer Cave in Malaysia, taking the distinction as the world’s largest cave. With exploration inside still in its infancy, an exit from the cave was just discovered in 2010. The team that climbed the 200 meter high wall found cave pearls that were the size of baseballs, abnormally large under any standard.
Fortunately, Sơn Đoòng cave is open for tours, provided you are willing to journey for a day and a half and then abseil down a cliff, just for starters.
The cave was formed some 2 -5 million years ago by river water eroding limestone under a mountain. Curious tourists will be set back by $3,000 and getting to the cave opening alone is an exploit already. Sơn Đoòng is made up of a maze of at least 150 individual caves.
Besides the river, it has its own lake and even a jungle. The unbelievable cave has been made accessible for a fee to the general public by tour company Oxalis. The company has a six-day trip for visitors, but it certainly is not for the timid or fearful. The trek to the cave takes a day and a half through thick and rugged jungle terrain. Once you get through that, it’s a 260ft drop down to its entrance. That should be Indiana Joneseque enough for anybody looking for an adventure.
See spectacular images of the immense Sơn Đoòng cave here.