Exploring Son Doong – A World-Class Adventure

Opened to the public in 2013, the Son Doong cave expedition has welcomed nearly 10,000 visitors to date and consistently operates at full capacity. To participate, travelers must make reservations 3 to 6 months in advance, sometimes even a year ahead. It’s not by chance that the world’s largest cave expedition holds a strong allure for tourists, major filmmakers, and international media outlets, being notably recognized as a world-class experiential tour. Let’s explore the reasons behind this.

CAVE WITH UNPARALLELED WONDERS

Son Doong Cave was formed around 2-2.5 million years ago when a river eroded through limestone rocks, creating a massive underground tunnel system beneath the mountains. With a length of 9km and an estimated volume of 38.6 million cubic meters, some parts of the cave reach heights of 200m and widths of 160m – large enough to accommodate a New York City block with 40-story buildings. With such colossal dimensions, Son Doong surpassed Malaysia’s Deer Cave to claim the title of the world’s largest natural cave in 2015, as recognized by the Guinness World Records.

It is the first and only cave on Earth that possesses a primary forest, an underground river, and a unique weather system inside the cave. Two colossal dolines in Son Doong allow sunlight to penetrate, combined with an underground river, creating a unique ecosystem unmatched anywhere else. National Geographic’s renowned explorers have confirmed Son Doong as one of the world’s most unique caves.

The extraordinary beauty of Son Doong has earned it high praise and recognition, making it a favorite filming location for major global channels like National Geographic, BBC, ABC, NHK, Hong Kong, Singapore, and more. The cave’s imagery has also appeared in Alan Walker’s music video “Alone Pt.II.” The New York Times named Son Doong one of the must-visit places in the world in 2014, and the renowned travel company Global Grasshopper listed it among the top 10 most beautiful places on the planet. Additionally, Telegraph, Daily Mail, National Geographic, TripAdvisor, Huffington Post, and others have all published articles praising the beauty of Son Doong.

Son Doong boasts numerous unprecedented records, such as being ranked 8th among the 52 best places to visit in 2014 by The New York Times. It holds the top position in Bored Panda’s list of the 15 most magnificent caves globally, and it is the only location in the world officially recognized by three world record organizations: Guinness World Records (UK), World Record Association (Hong Kong), and World Records Union (USA and India).

AN UNMATCHED ADVENTURE JOURNEY

The Son Doong expedition route is carefully designed by the professional teams of Oxalis Adventure, with safety advice from cave exploration experts from the UK and Vietnam. Conquering Son Doong is no easy feat; the four-day journey requires participants to have excellent physical fitness and prior trekking experience to tackle the challenging route: 17km through the jungle, stream crossings, 8km of cave exploration, 800m of ascent, and climbing the 90m high Vietnam Wall with safety equipment and guidance from experts.

Many participants express concerns to Oxalis about the challenging nature of the trip, fearing they may not be able to complete it. However, upon successfully conquering the challenges, especially scaling the 90m high Vietnam Wall to exit the cave, they are overwhelmed with happiness and pride for overcoming themselves. Additionally, the journey provides an ideal escape from everyday life, work stress, and allows the mind to relax and enjoy unique experiences.

“Amazing! Son Doong is the eighth wonder of the world. The trip was tough but worth every penny. 99% of the world’s population will never experience this in their lifetime. It’s like being on another planet, a place of natural beauty, untouched and pure,” shared Andy H from Canada.

Participating in the Son Doong expedition in 2017, U.S. Ambassador Ted Osius expressed that he had been to many places, undertaken numerous expeditions, but Son Doong is truly different – unbelievably beautiful and one of the best places in the world.

With such incredible experiences, the renowned National Geographic Adventure UK magazine voted the Son Doong Expedition as the world’s most adventurous tour in 2014. In 2019, the Dave TV channel in the UK also voted the Son Doong expedition as the 5th among the 20 greatest adventures on the planet.

SUSTAINABLE TOURISM EXPLOITATION AND LOCAL WELL-BEING DEVELOPMENT

Diverging from typical tourism practices, the Son Doong tour is one of the few in the world with restricted participant numbers. With conservation and ensuring the best experience for visitors in mind, Son Doong is only allowed to host a maximum of 1,000 visitors per year, with each tour organized in small groups of up to 10 people. The tours run only from January to August annually, allowing the cave to rest and the ecosystem to recover during the rest of the year.

High-class tourism requires a “green” approach, and the Son Doong expedition fully adheres to this principle. Oxalis Adventure and the cave exploration experts from the UK and Vietnam have embraced a green philosophy and nature conservation for Quang Binh province from the beginning of tourism exploitation, ensuring conservation in every small action. Tourists are guided on marked paths within the cave to minimize impacts on the stalactite system. Oxalis does not build fixed infrastructure inside the cave; everything brought into the jungle or cave must be taken out. The toilets also use composting toilets at camping sites to protect the environment and water sources in these areas.

In addition to nature conservation, Oxalis places significant emphasis on local well-being. The company employs local residents – those who previously lacked stable employment and engaged in illegal logging and hunting. Now, they no longer participate in such activities, contributing to the protection of nature and the ecosystem in the region.

Oxalis Adventure.

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