What it Takes to See the World’s Largest Cave

While we were in Vietnam the two of us were really curious about seeing the world’s largest cave, Hang Son Doong. We had already done a cave quest in Laos, although these caves would seem tiny in comparison, we had a blast. Unfortunately, for us we didn’t realize what it takes to see the World’s largest cave and were not able to go.

So what does it take to see it?

hang-son-doongYou need $3,000 each and planning well in advance. Hang Son Doong is hiddent in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National park and they only allow for 500 permits per year to see the cave. So you could imagine that there are not usually last minute spots and you have to plan months in advance, also assuming you have that kind of money to spend to see a cave! In additiona, you can only visit the cave during February through August due to rain. Whoops, we weren’t prepared for that.

Why should you want to go?

Hang Son Doong, Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, Vietnam
This cave was discovered and named world’s largest cave in 2009. There are parts over 650 feet tall, nearly 500 feet wide, and a river that’s over 3 miles long running through it. In fact, the cave is so large it has it’s own climate and jungle. The photographs speak for themselves, you just want to go!

To make this cave expedition more inviting and adventurous, you can’t simply just walk into it. You have to repel down 260 feet with a harness and ropes to where you will also set up a tent and camp. So now that price still seems steep, you can understand the kind of preparation your tour guide has to go through for you to enjoy a magical night in Hang Son Doong.

If you’re too poor

Phong Nha

Inside Phong Nha Cave Via Customized Tours

So you’re like us and can’t afford to shell out $3K per person on one activity? Well then you can explore the other caves in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park! Phong Nha-Ke Bang consists of 300 caves and grottos making up this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The easiest way to do this (from our research since we actually didn’t get to go) is to do a Farmstay where you can book your tour and a local will guide you or to book tours through Phong Nha-Ke Bang Tourist center. All the tours seem all inclusive including trekking boots, gear, meals, and camping equipment if they are overnight.

Some of the major caves to see are Phong Nha Cave, Dark Cave, Hang Tam, Paradise Cave, Tu Lan Cave System (includes many caves, including Nat Geo famous Hang Ken), Hang En Cave.

You can see some great photos of Tu Lan Cave trekking from Lesh and Jazza of Nomadasaurus.

We are really regretting not making it to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park while we were in Vietnam. But we didn’t get to see a lot of places because we ended up leaving Vietnam early to come back to Korea and teach. We will make sure spending time exploring Vietnam’s caves is on the top of our priority list when we go back.

Will we plan to visit the world’s largest cave when we return to Vietnam? Not unless we have a huge unexpected cashflow coming in. We both will put Hang Son Doong on our bucketlist, but we are not in the financial position where we can spend $6,000 to see the world’s largest cave…but one day! That’s what goals are for!

Vietnam Bobo & Chichi WILL BE BACK!!!!


cover image via Wiki Travel by John Spies

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