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Hang Sơn Đoòng

Coordinates: 17°27′25″N 106°17′15″E / 17.45694°N 106.28750°E / 17.45694; 106.28750
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(Redirected from Sơn Đoòng Cave)

Sơn Đoòng cave
Hang Sơn Đoòng
Map showing the location of Sơn Đoòng cave
Map showing the location of Sơn Đoòng cave
LocationQuảng Bình Province, Vietnam
Coordinates17°27′25″N 106°17′15″E / 17.45694°N 106.28750°E / 17.45694; 106.28750
Depthmax. 150 metres (490 ft)
Lengthapprox. 9 kilometres (5.6 mi)
Discovery1991 [AD] by Hồ Khanh
GeologyPermo-Carboniferous limestone
HazardsUnderground river
Cave survey2009, British/Vietnamese

Sơn Đoòng cave (Vietnamese: hang Sơn Đoòng, IPA: [haːŋ˧ ʂəːn˧ ɗɔ̤ŋ˨˩]), in Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park, Bố Trạch District, Quảng Bình Province, Vietnam, is the world's largest natural cave.[1]

Located near the Laos–Vietnam border, Hang Sơn Đoòng has an internal, fast-flowing subterranean river and the largest cross-section of any cave, worldwide,[2][3] believed to be twice that of the next-largest passage. It is the largest known cave passage in the world by volume.

Its name, Hang Sơn Đoòng, is variously translated from Vietnamese as "cave of the mountain river"[4] or "cave of mountains behind Đoòng [village]".[disputeddiscuss]

As a solutional cave, it was formed in soluble limestone[5] and is believed to be between 2 and 5 million years old.[6]


The entrance to Hang Sơn Đoòng was found in 1991 by a local man named Hồ Khanh, while searching for agarwood, a valuable timber. Although he initially went to investigate further, he was discouraged upon approach by the sound of rushing water and the strong wind issuing from the entrance. Not thinking it to be of any great importance, by the time he returned to his home, he had forgotten the exact location of the entrance.[7] Later, he mentioned his discovery in passing to two members of the British Cave Research Association (BCRA), who were exploring in the local area. They asked him to attempt to rediscover the entrance, which he eventually managed to do in 2008, and in 2009, he led an expedition from the BCRA to the entrance.[8]

This expedition, conducted between 10 and 14 April 2009, performed a survey of the cave and gave its volume as 38,500,000 m3 (1.36×109 cu ft).[4][8] Their progress in exploring the cave's full length was stopped by a large, 60-metre (200 ft) high flowstone-coated wall, which the expedition named the Great Wall of Vietnam.[4] The expedition returned in March 2010 and successfully traversed the wall, which allowed the explorers to reach the end of the cave passage.[9] They estimated that the overall length of the cave system exceeded 9 km (5.6 mi).[8]


Formed in Carboniferous/Permian limestone, the main Sơn Đoòng cave passage is the largest known cave passage in the world by volume – 3.84×107 m3 (1.36×109 cu ft), according to BRCA expedition leader Howard Limbert. It is more than 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) long, 200 metres (660 ft) high and 150 metres (490 ft) wide. Its cross-section is believed to be twice that of the next largest passage, in Deer Cave, Malaysia.[10][11] The cave runs for about 9 km (5.6 mi) and is punctuated by two large dolines, areas where the ceiling of the cave has collapsed. The dolines allow sunlight to enter sections of the cave, resulting in the growth of trees and other vegetation.[12]

By mid-2019, the cave was found to be connected by its underground river with a nearby cave called Hang Thung. This increases the potential volume of the cave by more than 1,600,000 m3 (57,000,000 cu ft).[13]

The cave contains some of the tallest known stalagmites in the world, which are up to 80 m (260 ft) tall.[14] Behind the Great Wall of Vietnam were found cave pearls the size of baseballs, an abnormally large size.[15] The cave's interior is so large that it could fit an entire New York block inside, including skyscrapers, or could have a Boeing 747 fly through it without its wings touching either side.[16]

Tourist activities[edit]

In early August 2013, the first tourist group explored the cave on a guided tour at a cost of US$3,000 each.[17] Permits are required to access the cave and are made available on a limited basis, from January to August.[18] After August, heavy rains cause river levels to rise, making the cave largely inaccessible. As of 2017, only Oxalis Adventure Tours have permission to enter the cave for tourism purposes.[19]

Development plans[edit]

Plans were considered to build a cable car through the cave. The proposed system would be 10.5 km (6.5 mi) long, and cost between US$112 and $211 million. However, the plans were opposed by environmentalists and locals because of the damage mass tourism could cause to the cave and local environment. The plan was ultimately cancelled by local government.[20]


  1. ^ "From the Biggest to the Longest, Five Amazing Caves to Visit". Smithsonian Magazine. October 1, 2014. Archived from the original on October 28, 2020. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  2. ^ "World's Biggest Cave Found in Vietnam". National Geographic. July 9, 2009. Archived from the original on February 28, 2015. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  3. ^ Guinness World Records 2013, Page 032. ISBN 9781904994879
  4. ^ a b c Dykes, Brett Michael (January 3, 2011). "Explorers discover spectacular caves in Vietnam". Yahoo!. Archived from the original on January 6, 2011.
  5. ^ "Gerological Map of Vietnam, Kampuchea, and Laos". Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  6. ^ Edström, Martin. "Fly Through A Colossal Cave: Son Doong in 360°". National Geographic. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  7. ^ Ho Khanh, a local farmer and biggest cave in the world at sondoongcave.org, accessed June 23, 2020
  8. ^ a b c "Son Doong Cave exploration story | The largest cave in the world". sondoongcave.info. March 17, 2019. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  9. ^ Jenkins, Mark (January 2011). "Conquering an Infinite Cave". National Geographic. Archived from the original on July 29, 2018. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
  10. ^ "World's largest grotto unveiled in Vietnam". Look At Vietnam. April 23, 2009. Archived from the original on April 27, 2009.
  11. ^ "Britons claim to find world's largest cave". The Daily Telegraph. London. April 30, 2009.
  12. ^ Son Doong Cave. "Son Doong cave, Hang Son Doong – Map".
  13. ^ Springer, Kate (May 20, 2019). "World's biggest cave is even bigger than we thought". CCN. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  14. ^ "Hope and Vision Passage inside Son Doong Cave • Oxalis Adventure". oxalisadventure.com. Retrieved December 19, 2023.
  15. ^ "Vietnam Cave". National Geographic. July 2011. Archived from the original on December 20, 2010. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  16. ^ "Son Doong voted among world's seven wonders for 2020". VnExpress International.
  17. ^ "First foreign tourist group explores Son Doong Cave". Foxnews. August 30, 2018. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
  18. ^ "Son Doong Expedition 4 Days". Oxalis Adventure. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  19. ^ Letter 1213/UBND-VX, 2016-08-03, Government of Quang Binh Province.
  20. ^ "Son Doong Cave cable car raises controversy". Vietnam.com. Retrieved January 16, 2017.

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