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(Photos) Get To Know The World's Largest Cave, Located in Southeast Asia
TRAVEL AND TOURISM Vietnam

(Photos) Get To Know The World's Largest Cave, Located in Southeast Asia

Stone formations with stalagmites and stalactites, underground rivers and lakes, together with delicate flora and fauna have made mammoth Son Doong Cave in the central province of Quang Binh one of the world’s most captivating destinations, reported Vietnam News Agency.

Located in the heart of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, the cave, which is more than 200 metres in width, 150 metres in height and approximately 6.8 kilometres in length, was explored by the British Cave Research Association during 2009-2010 and it has been open to the public since 2013. It is believed to have been formed two  to five million years ago.

his image shows how collapses caused by erosion leave openings through which incredible sunbeams penetrate, creating mesmerizing light shows | Jarryd Salem/CNN
his image shows how collapses caused by erosion leave openings through which incredible sunbeams penetrate, creating mesmerizing light shows | Jarryd Salem/CNN
From the second campsite inside Hang Son Doong visitors can stare out of an erosion hole (these are known as "dolines") and catch stars glistening on a clear night | Jarryd Salem/CNN
From the second campsite inside Hang Son Doong visitors can stare out of an erosion hole (these are known as "dolines") and catch stars glistening on a clear night | Jarryd Salem/CNN
Sections of Hang Son Doong are so steep and perilous that ropes are required to help lower people safely through them | Jarryd Salem/CNN
Sections of Hang Son Doong are so steep and perilous that ropes are required to help lower people safely through them | Jarryd Salem/CNN

Son Doong Cave has been recognised as the largest of its kind in the world by three international record-keeping organisations – Guinness, the Association World, and Worldkings.

It has recently been ranked third among the worldwide bucket-list trips for 2019 by Lonely Planet, a prestigious travel guide magazine. 

The cave attracted 243 tourist arrivals from 34 countries and territories across the world who joined 32 pilot tours “Conquering Son Doong – the world’s largest cave”, operated by the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park management board and Oxalis Adventure Tours in 2013. It generated over 15 billion VND (US$645,600) for local tourism in the eight-month trial period.

The tours created stable jobs for 40 locals, with average income of 6 million VND (US$258) per month at that time. Taking the cue from the adventure tours, local tourism services have been developed as well.

The Rao Thuong River flows fast through the Son Doong cave system, continuously carving new chambers and passages. During the wet season the river floods to dizzying levels, halting any chance of exploration through the caves or jungle | Jarryd Salem/CNN
The Rao Thuong River flows fast through the Son Doong cave system, continuously carving new chambers and passages. During the wet season the river floods to dizzying levels, halting any chance of exploration through the caves or jungle | Jarryd Salem/CNN
Days and nights of the expedition are spent camping inside Hang En, which is considered to be one of the most spectacular campsites in all of Asia | Alesha Bradford
Days and nights of the expedition are spent camping inside Hang En, which is considered to be one of the most spectacular campsites in all of Asia | Alesha Bradford
Not all of the magnificent formations that can be found in Hang Son Doong are massive. Towards the end of the chambers rare, spherical "cave pearls" are also found. These are formed when tiny pieces of sediment collect calcium salt layers over thousands of years | Jarryd Salem/CNN
Not all of the magnificent formations that can be found in Hang Son Doong are massive. Towards the end of the chambers rare, spherical "cave pearls" are also found. These are formed when tiny pieces of sediment collect calcium salt layers over thousands of years | Jarryd Salem/CNN

Besides, the Son Doong tours have helped popularise the UNESCO-certified Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park as well as the province’s tourism to the world.

Holding important scientific values in terms of geology, geomorphology and ancient climate, the cave has been favoured by many scientists and science channels worldwide.

The ecosystem inside Son Doong is as unique as it is large, and it even has its own localised weather system. Rare limestone cave pearls are scattered in dried pools, and the largest stalagmite ever found stands 80 metres tall.

Hang Son Doong is so massive that it contains its own jungle, underground river and localized weather system. Clouds form inside the cave and spew out from the exits and dolines, which gave the first explorers a clue as to how large Hang Son Doong really is | Alesha Bradford
Hang Son Doong is so massive that it contains its own jungle, underground river and localized weather system. Clouds form inside the cave and spew out from the exits and dolines, which gave the first explorers a clue as to how large Hang Son Doong really is | Alesha Bradford

Collapsed ceilings have created openings known as dolines, allowing foliage plants to grow inside the cave. Microscopic organisms thrive in the darkness.

According to an initial study from the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, besides 161 species of flora found inside Son Doong, the cave is home to 300-million-year-old coral fossils which are valuable for the analysis of geological layer changes through times.

Source : Vietnam News Agency

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