Hang Sơn Đoòng

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Sơn Đoòng Cave
Sơn Đoòng Cave
Son Doong Cave 5.jpg
View approaching the second doline
Map showing the location of Sơn Đoòng Cave
Map showing the location of Sơn Đoòng Cave
Location Quảng Bình Province, Vietnam
Coordinates 17°27′25″N 106°17′15″E / 17.45694°N 106.28750°E / 17.45694; 106.28750Coordinates: 17°27′25″N 106°17′15″E / 17.45694°N 106.28750°E / 17.45694; 106.28750
Depth Max 150m / 490ft
Length Approx 9,000 m / 30,000 ft
Discovery 1991 [AD] by Hồ Khanh
Geology Permo-Carboniferous limestone
Entrances Approx 2
Hazards Underground river
Cave survey 2009, British/Vietnamese

Sơn Đoòng Cave (Vietnamese: Hang Sơn Đoòng ([haːŋ˧ ʂəːn˧ ɗɔ̤ŋ˨˩]); 'cave of the mountain river'[1] or 'mountain cave of Đoòng [village]' in Vietnamese),[disputed ] is a solutional cave in Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park, Bố Trạch District, Quảng Bình Province, Vietnam. As of 2009 it has the largest known cave passage cross-section in the world,[2][3] and is located near the LaosVietnam border. Inside is a large, fast-flowing subterranean river. It was formed in Carboniferous/Permian limestone[4] and is believed to be between 2 and 5 million years old.[5]


Hang Sơn Đoòng was found by a local man named Hồ Khanh in 1991. The whistling sound of wind and roar of a rushing stream in the cave heard through the entrance as well as the steep descent prevented the local people from entering the cave. Only in 2009 did the cave become internationally known after a group of cavers from the British Cave Research Association, led by Howard Limbert, conducted a survey in Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng from 10 to 14 April 2009.[1] Their progress was stopped by a large, 60-metre (200 ft) high calcite wall,[1] which was named the Great Wall of Vietnam. It was traversed in 2010 when the group reached the end of the cave passage[citation needed].


According to Limbert, the main Sơn Đoòng cave passage is the largest known cave passage in the world by volume – 38.4×106 cubic metres (1.36×109 cu ft). 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.[6][7] The cave runs for approximately 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) and is punctuated by 2 large dolines, which are areas where the ceiling of the cave has collapsed. The dolines allow sunlight to enter sections of the cave which has resulted in the growth of trees as well as other vegetation.[8]

The cave contains some of the tallest known stalagmites in the world, which are up to 70 m tall. Behind the Great Wall of Vietnam were found cave pearls the size of baseballs, an abnormally large size.[9]

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.[10][11] Permits are required to access the cave and are made available on a limited basis, with 800 permits available for the 2017 season, which runs from February to August.[12] After August, heavy rains cause river levels to rise and make the cave largely inaccessible. As of 2017, only one expedition company currently has permits to enter the cave for tourism purposes.[13]

Development plans[edit]

Plans are being considered to build a cable car through the cave. The proposed system would be 10.5 kilometres (6.5 mi) long, and cost between $112 and $211 million. The plans are opposed by environmentalists.[14]


  1. ^ a b c Dykes, Brett Michael (January 3, 2011). "Explorers discover spectacular caves in Vietnam". Yahoo!. Archived from the original on 2011-01-06. 
  2. ^ "World's Biggest Cave Found in Vietnam". National Geographic. July 9, 2009. 
  3. ^ Guinness World Records 2013, Page 032. ISBN 9781904994879
  4. ^ "Gerological Map of Vietnam, Kampuchea, and Laos". Retrieved 15 May 2014. 
  5. ^ Edström, Martin. "Fly Through A Colossal Cave: Son Doong in 360°". National Geographic. Retrieved 2017-10-07. 
  6. ^ "World's largest grotto unveiled in Vietnam". Archived from the original on 2009-04-27. 
  7. ^ "Britons claim to find world's largest cave". The Daily Telegraph. London. 30 April 2009. 
  8. ^ Son Doong Cave. "Son Doong cave, Hang Son Doong – Map". 
  9. ^ "Vietnam Cave". National Geographic. July 2011. Retrieved 16 January 2017. (Subscription required (help)). 
  10. ^ Arkell, Harriet (25 September 2013). "Five miles long, and with its own rivers and jungle: The world's largest cave is open for tours... you just have to trek for a day and a half and then abseil down a Vietnamese cliff to get there". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 16 January 2017. 
  11. ^ "First foreign tourist group explores Son Doong Cave". Saigon-gpdaily. 2013-08-07. Retrieved 2013-08-08. 
  12. ^ "Son Doong Cave tours increase in popularity". 2015-01-15. Retrieved 2015-01-16. 
  13. ^ "Son Doong Cave Expedition". Oxalis Adventure Tours. Retrieved 31 December 2017. Due to safety and conservation matters, the government of Quang Binh allowed Oxalis is the only operator bringing tourists to Hang En/Son Doong cave. 
  14. ^ "Son Doong Cave cable car raises controversy". Vietnam.com. Retrieved 2017-01-16. 

External links[edit]