Adventures by the caveful

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 Thuy Cung (undersea palace) Cave at the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in the central province of Quang Binh opened to tourism since May / PHOTO COURTESY OF PHONG NHA KE BANG TOURISM CENTER

Have you ever heard about the Son Doong Cave? Do you know that it is so big that a 40-story building can fit inside it quite easily? And that there is even a jungle inside it?

If you are curious enough and ready to explore the world's largest cave, do not hesitate to set out on a trip to Vietnam's Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in the central province of Quang Binh.

Local authorities have recently announced that they are opening trial tours to the cave that is 150 meters high and 200 meters wide. If the pilot project proves successful, Son Doong will be officially opened to caving tourism between February and August every year.

Under the trial project, there will be two tours every month, with each lasting five or seven days, the Dan Tri online newspaper reported, citing the Quang Binh People's Committee.

The tours will consist of three trekking trips, with each trip having seven tourists and 15 local porters at most, it reported.

The mouth of Son Doong was first discovered by Ho Khanh, a local resident. Later, in 2009, Khanh acted as a guide for expeditions by members of the British Cave Research Association led by Howard Limbert and his wife Deb Limbert.

That year the cave became known worldwide after it was announced as the world's largest.

Son Doong tours are among plans that local authorities and the Phong Nha Ke Bang Tourism Center, the main operator of tours at the park, have recently introduced to boost tourism in the area.

Previously, in May, they had introduced a new tour to the Sinh Ton (living) Valley and Thuy Cung (undersea palace) Cave.

The tour starts at the Dau Rai primeval forest, which hosts hundreds of centuries old trees with trunks so big it would take three to four adults to embrace them. Dau Rai is a plant (Dipterocarpus alatus) native to Vietnam and several other countries like Bangladesh and Cambodia.

From the forest, tourists go along Tien (fairy) Spring to Nuoc Lan (diving waters) Cave, where they are provided with special equipment to discover the wild cave.

Next is the Thuy Cung Cave which has "extraordinarily blue" waters.

The tour ends at Sinh Ton a valley that covers more than 2,000 hectares, and is surrounded by limestone mountains.

PHONG NHA - KE BANG
TOURISM CENTER

Address: Son Trach Commune, Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province
Phone: 05 2367 7323 
Hotline: 091 850 3456

If tourists choose two-day tours instead of a day-long tour, they will spend one night in the valley. Meals of wild vegetables, fish, grilled meat and rice balls are included in the tours.

U Bo one of the park's highest mountains is also expected to open to tourism on a trial basis next month, according to the website of Phong Nha Ke Bang Tourism Center.

From the mountain's top, located more than 1,000 meters above the sea level, tourists can get a bird's eye view of famous sites in Quang Binh as far as 40 kilometers away, like the Nhat Le Beach, Dong Hoi Town, and the Bao Ninh white sand beach.

Surrounding the mountain are primeval forests and historic relic sites.

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