Vietnam has long been an ideal destination for those who love to explore the beauty of nature. It is not only famous for the stunning beaches, but also for its impressive caves and caverns. Vietnam possesses hundreds of caves, each of which has its own characteristics but all leads you to an adventurous and memorable journey. This article, focusing on Vietnam cave, will provide you a list of the 8 wonderful caves in this country.
I. PHONG NHA CAVE – THE MOST POPULAR VIETNAM CAVE
1. An overview about Phong Nha Cave
Phong Nha Cave is situated in Son Trach Commune, Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province (40 kilometers from Dong Hoi City). Phong Nha cave is the gateway to Phong Nha National Park. The cave lies inside the area of great limestone mountains that are covered with the forests of Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park
There are ways to explore the cave. The most common one is purchasing tickets from the Tourist Center and then traveling by boat. You can go on foot 500 meters on your way out and then return to the boat to go back to the Tourist Center. This is a smart and convenient choice and it is such a cool escape on hot days of summer.
2. Highlights of Phong Nha Cave
The cave’s name stems from the wind (Phong) blowing through sharp stalactites, which resembles the teeth (Nha) near the Cave’s mouth. Phong Nha Cave’s length, height, and depth are 7,729 meters, 50 meters, and 83 meters respectively. The Phong Nha – Ke Bang cave system has “dry” and the “water” part. Phong Nha Cave is known as the “water” one because it has an underground river. Hence, exploring the cave requires boats.
Phong Nha Cave’s entrance is 20 meters wide and 10 meters high, with plentiful stalactites. Go deep into the cave along the 1500 meter long “water corridor”, which leads you to branch caves such as Tien, Bi Ky, Cung Dinh, you can have the chance to watch and admire stalactites and stalagmites in many fantastic and extraordinary shapes. The ancient Cham are believed to use the cave to worship because of their remained characters on the walls of Bi Ky Cave.
The cave is not only famous for its natural part, but also for its artificial tasteful manner, which highlights the most fascinating parts of the cave.
3. Tours to explore Phong Nha Cave
There are tours every day from 07:30 to 16:00. The entrance fee is VND 150,000/person and the fee of boat renting is VND 360,000/boat containing up to 14 people. By the way, you can pay extra VND 300,000 for English speaking guide. Another way to explore Phong Nha Cave is called Xuyen Son Ho, which has been in operation since 2013. During the journey, visitors will have the opportunity to take part in a 1-km trek after kayaking 4.5 kilometers. This tour costs VND 1,700,000/person
II. PARADISE CAVE – A HEAVEN-ON-EARTH CAVE IN VIETNAM
1. An overview about Paradise Cave
Paradise Cave (or Thien Duong Cave) is one of the caves of Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park. The cave is located in Son Trach Commune, Bo Trach District, which is 60 kilometers northwest from Dong Hoi City center. Paradise Cave is discovered by a local in 2005 and this cave is 31 kilometers long, which is longer than Phong Nha Cave, which was once considered as the longest cave of Phong Nha – Ke Bang. The first 5 kilometers of Paradise Cave was explored by a group of explorers from British Cave Research Association in 2005, then other parts were found by the British Cave explorers. These explorers name it “Paradise” because they were fascinated by the impressive and stunning limestone formation, as well as the stalagmites and stalactites inside the cave.
2. Highlights of Paradise Cave
Visiting Paradise Cave, you have to climb a bit before going deep into the cave. The total height of the cave is 72 meter and the width is 150. Paradise Cave is a true masterpiece of nature. The complicated and unique limestone towers reach up to the ceiling and rimstone pools terraces the cave’s surface. Plus, every giant and tiny stalactite and stalagmite embellishes all parts of the cave in a rainbow of hues. These stalactites, which gradually created by water drips, resembles some cultural symbols such as Female Buddha and Male Goddess, as well as kinds of animals.
3. Tours to explore Paradise Cave
Normally, there are 2 main ways to explore this magical wonder. The more popular way is following the 1-kilometer long wooden staircase, which sets a national record for being “The longest wooden path”. It often takes visitors from 2 to 2.5 hours and the entrance ticket costs VND 250,000/adult, VND 125,000/child whose height is 1.1 – 1.3m, and free for children under 1.1m.
The other way is ideal for people who are keen on discovering and adventurous journeys. Visitors will have a chance to experience the mysterious beauty of stalactites and stalagmites naturally created inside the cave, the underground rivers and streams before reaching the Skylight – the highlight of Paradise cave, which lies 7 kilometers into the cave. There are 2 available tours per day and each takes tourists 8 hours to finish. The involved fee is VND 2,000,000/adult. Children under 16 years old and adults who suffer from serious health problems are not allowed to take this tour.
III. SON DOONG CAVE – THE LARGEST CAVE OF THE WORLD
1. An overview about Son Doong Cave
Like the 2 mentioned caves, Son Doong Cave also belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park and it is situated in Son Trach Commune, Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province. Son Doong is the most captivating site in Southeast Asia.
This cave was discovered by a local man named Ho Khanh in 1991 while he was looking for a shelter during a storm. He noticed that there is an underground river flowing from a limestone big hole. But unfortunately, he then lost track of the entrance and it is not until 18 years later that he could find the cave again. Son Doong Cave became internationally known in 2009. Son Doong means the Mountain cave of Doong (name of a local village).
2. Highlights of Son Doong Cave
The total length of Son Doong cave is about 9 kilometers. The main cave passage is the largest one in the world which is 5 kilometers long, 200 meters high, and 150 meters wide. In addition, the cave contains some of the world’s tallest stalagmites. Inside the cave, there is a subterranean river that flows really fast. Son Doong is believed to be about 2-5 million years old.
The eco-system inside Son Doong is one of a kind since it has its own weather system. As sunlight is allowed to enter some parts of the cave, plants can survive while microscopic organisms continuously thrive in the darkness.
3. Tours to explore Son Doong Cave
Son Doong was first opened to the public in 2013. Up to now, there are available tours to explore Son Doong, but they must be on a limited basis. Normally, these tours run once a week, from February to August, with only 10 people in each tour, in order to protect the cave from mass development. A large team of cave experts, guides, and porters are involved to ensure the safety of visitor, as well as the preservation of the cave. This two-day journey is only for those who have a good health condition. It includes intense trekking and river crossings. Explores spend nights camping inside the cave or the nearby En Cave. The total fee is about $ 3,000 for each tour.
IV. TAM COC – HALONG BAY ON LAND
1. An overview about Tam Coc
Tam Coc, which is located in Ninh Binh Province, about 90 kilometers far from Hanoi, has recently become one of the most famous tourist sites in Vietnam. In Vietnamese, Tam Coc means “three caves”, and it literally consists of 3 caves which are Hang Ca, Hang Hai, Hang Ba respectively.
2. Highlights of Tam Coc
Hang Ca is the first cave and it is the largest of all 3 caves. It is 127 meters long and the cave’s mouth is 20 meters wide. The cave may look dark from outside, but it will be brighter when you go into it. The second cave, Hang Hai (or Hang Giua), is about 10 minutes far from the first one. Its length is approximately 60 meters. Hang Ba (or Hang Cuoi) is the smallest, which is only 50 meters long and 100 meters from the second one. There are many stalactites in all 3 caves, some of which resemble clouds while others drip water all day. Especially, there is a multitude of flat and horizontal stalactites in Hang Hai.
To reach Tam Coc, you have to move in a small boat on Ngo Dong River. Tam Coc is gorgeous in any period of the year. Though Tam Coc is famous for its interesting rock formations, the landscapes along the way are also a highlight of this tourist attraction. Visitors can do sightseeing when traveling along the river banks, where lie green rice fields in Spring or silky yellow beds in Winter. Sometimes you can see a school of fish swimming in the crystal clear water.
3. Tours to explore Tam Coc
It often takes you 2 hours to finish a boat trip on the site of Tam Coc. The price for sightseeing is VND 120,000/person and one for boat renting is VND 150,000/boat. Normally, each boat can carry 2-4 people. Tours run every day, from 07:00 to 17:00.
V. TRANG AN CAVE SYSTEM – A SCENIC JOURNEY ON SAO KHUE RIVER
1. An overview about Trang An Cave System
Trang An Eco-tourist site is situated in the area of 3 districts: Hoa Lu, Gia Vien and Nho Quan of Ninh Binh Province. It has become more and more popular in the tourist map for its stunning caves, as well as many tourist attractions such as Tran Temple and the limestone mountains and rivers.
2. Highlights of Trang An Cave System
Trang An is an enormous cave system which includes 48 small caves, 12 of which are now available to visit. In general, caves in Trang An are rather concentrated. Thus, you can visit most of these case in just a tour and will be surprised by the difference of these beautiful caves. After millions of years, nature has created fantastic and wonderful stalagmites, which are going to make you love at first sight. We will provide you 12 caves in Trang An that have been open to tourists. Check them out!
a. Dia Linh Cave – Toi Cave – Sang Cave
The first cave of this system is Dia Linh Cave, or “blossom stone”. The cave is 1,500 meters long in total and some parts are in the exploiting process. Visitors can observe the narrow spaces whose width is only 3 meters. What is more, there are some wide space, along with flat wall and floor under the river.
The following cave is Toi Cave. In Vietnamese, “Toi” means “Dark”. This is simply because the space inside this cave lacks the natural light and is rather dark. Hence, people have to use the flashlight in order to explore the beauty of the cave. Toi Cave is 315 meters high and owns a variety of stalactites, which are in different and weird shapes. The temperature inside this cave is 2-3 degrees higher than ordinary due to the hot spring flowing under.
After Toi Cave, visitors maybe overwhelmed by the brightness of the next cave, which is called Sang Cave or Light Cave (in Vietnamese, “Sang” means “Light”. This is the smallest cave, whose total length is only 100 meters.
b. Nau Ruou Cave
Nau Ruou Cave is 15 meters deep. The name of this cave stems from the story that local people used to use the fresh water here to make liquor. Nau Ruou Cave could have more visiting potential if it had not been affected by the entrance widening to make it easier you visit Tran Temple. In fact, people found liquor storage in the remain parts of the vases and jars. You can have an overall view of the cave from Tran Temple.
c. Sinh Cave – Si Cave – Ba Giot Cave – Seo Cave – Son Duong Cave
After Nau Ruou Cave, the boat will take its passengers to the groups of 5 caves named Sinh Cave, Si Cave, Ba Giot Cave, Seo Cave, and Son Duong cave respectively. On average, each cave’s length is from 100 meters to 250 meters. These caves contain a myriad of twinkle stalactites in pure white or emerald green color. This is because of the silicon dioxide absorbed by the limestone mountainous area.
3 Caves Sinh – Si – Ba Giot are believed to have observed a sad love story between a young local and a princess. Unfortunately, the princess had to marry to a prince from the neighbor country and the young man who had prepared wedding presents in Sinh Cave (“Sinh” or “Sinh Le” means “offer”) to propose the princess was so heartbroken. He then bathed himself in Ba Giot Cave and ended his own life in Si Cave (“Si” means falling for someone so much). The 2 other caves – Seo cave and Son Duong Cave are 250 meters long with dark and narrow space.
d. Khong Cave – Tran Cave – Quy Hau Cave
Khong Cave is the next cave after Son Duong Cave, whose length is only 60 meters. In Khong Cave, there is a palace named Khong, lying on a narrow land on the mouth of the cave. The right side of the palace where lie steep rocks faces the vast water. This used to be Emperor Dinh’s military base to protect Hoa Lu Capital from the south. This palace worshiped 7 mandarins who were Emperor Dinh Tien Hoang’s loyal assistants. These mandarins are the only ones that knew where the emperor was buried and they commit suicide to keep that secret.
The 2 final caves of the sightseeing trip are Tran Cave – a 200-meter long cave – and the 100-meter long Quy Hau Cave.
3. Tours to explore Trang An cave system
There are tours in Trang An every day. Traveling by boat on Sao Khue River is the only way to get access to these caves. So far, there are 3 different routes that lead you to the caves in different orders. The involved fee is VND 200,000/adult and VND 100,000 VND/child under 140 centimeter high. Tours run every day, from 07:00 to 18:00.
VI. SUNG SOT CAVE – THE VIETNAM CAVE THAT NEVER STOPS SURPRISING YOU
1. An overview about Sung Sot Cave
Sung Sot Cave, situated on Bo Hon Island, is one of the widest and finest caves of the cave system of UNESCO World Heritage Halong Bay. The name “Sung Sot” means “surprise”, which stems from the French name “Grotto des Surprises” (a cave of the surprising things). Sung Sot Cave is home to many distinct and strange shaped limestone rocks that cannot be found in other caves. In 2012, Sung Sot Cave was in the list of 10 most beautiful caves in the world by the Association of Tour Operators and Travel Agencies of Czech.
2. Highlights of Sung Sot Cave
The way to Sung Sot Cave requires climbing a bit. From the wharf, you have to walk up and down through steep stones. To many tourists, this walking brings an exciting experience. Inside the cave, the lighting system is provided along the passage, which adds more charm and elegance to the beauty of the cave.
Sung Sot Cave is divided into 2 chambers. The first one bears a resemblance to a wide theater. The ceiling is covered by a myriad of stunning stalactites and stalagmites, which are in different forms and shapes. It is said that this area is such an illusory world with magical things. A narrow passage leads to the second chamber, which is much more spacious and and able to accommodate hundreds of people. There are a stoned horse and a long sword right next to the entrance. These bear iconic and mythical meaning: Thanh Giong, a Vietnamese folk hero, defeated invaders. In addition, there are many sceneries and objects in Sung Sot Cave that are believed to be the traces of these fierce battles.
Moreover, tourist can explore many surprising things when moving deep into the cave. There are stalactites in special shapes, animals (dinosaurs, sea bears), an old banyan tree, etc. Reaching the cave’s highest peak, visitors will have an opportunity to admire a fantastic picture of a royal garden, as well as clear water lakes and living creatures here.
3. Tours to explore Sung Sot Cave
There are available tours every day from 06:30 to 18:30. The total fee is VND 200,000, including the fee of visiting Halong Bay (VND 150,000) and the entrance fee of Sung Sot Cave (VND 50,000)
VII. DAU GO CAVE – THE VIETNAM CAVE OWNING A JELLYFISH-SHAPED ENTRANCE
1. An overview about Dau Go Cave
Dau Go Cave is one of the most impressive caves of Halong Bay. It is located in Dau Go Island, 6 kilometers from Bai Chay ship port. There are 2 hypotheses of the cave’s name, Dau Go. The first one said that it originates from the victory of Tran Hung Dao against Mongol invaders in the 13th century by deploying giant wooden stakes under the water. Later on, some of those stakes flew to this cave and was found by local people. The second indicates that the Dau Go Island has the shape of a huge timber tree, which provides shelter for fishermen when they have problems. Dau Go Cave, thus, was named after this island.
2. Highlights of Dau Go Cave
Dau Go Cave covers an area of 5,000 m2. The cave door is 17 meters wide and 12 meters high. People believe this cave was created about 2 million years ago. Located at the height of 27 meters above the sea level, the cave exudes ancient beauty with a myriad of stone pillars and stalagmites. Inside the cave, the flora and fauna thrive and are diverse due to the high humidity. Especially, the entrance of the cave has the blue color with the jellyfish shape.
Entering the cave, tourists will have a chance to discover a magnificent world of stalagmites and stalactites which results from the karst process in such a long period. The cave includes 3 main areas. The first part has a curved shape and is filled up by natural light. The ceiling here is absolutely like an oil painting depicting primitive landscapes the magical color-changing rows of stalactites and stalagmites. This stimulates the tourists’ imagination and curiosity. Besides, a narrow entrance will lead you the second area. Though this part is a bit darker than the previous due to the lack of light, it has a more fascinating ambiance of the hazy picture formed by the harmonious combination of stalactites and light. In the third area, there are many giant naturally created stone pillars and a freshwater lake at the end of the cave.
A French book once mentioned DauGo Cave as the “Cave of Wonders” because Dau Go Cave bears its majestic beauty, as well as the historical values. Today, Dau Go Cave is one of the famous Halong’s destinations, which attracts not only Vietnamese, but also international visitors.
3. Tours to explore Dau Go Cave
There are available tours every day from 06:30 to 18:30. The total fee is VND 200,000, including the fee of visiting Halong Bay (VND 150,000) and the entrance fee of Sung Sot Cave (VND 50,000)
VIII. NGUOM NGAO CAVE – THE VIETNAM CAVE THAT BEARS THE VIET BAC DISTINCTIONS
1. An overview about Nguom Ngao Cave
Nguom Ngao Cave is situated in Gun Village, Dam Thuy Commune, Trung Khanh District, Cao Bang Province. It is just 3 kilometer far from Ban Gioc Waterfall, which is a famous tourist attraction of Cao Bang. The cave was discovered in 1921 by the locals and was opened to the public in 1996, and it was not until 2006 that paths were built to take tourists to many hidden corners of the cave.
2. Highlights of Nguom Ngao Cave
With the total length of 2,144 meters, Nguom Ngao Cave, nowadays, is exploited 900 meters for visiting. The Cave’s height is 60m, with 3 entrances: Nguom Ngao, Nguom Lom, and Ban Thuon respectively. In Tay’s language (an ethnic minority of the northern mountainous region), Nguom Ngao means “tiger’s cave”. It is said that tigers which lived in the cave used to hunt for livestock in the nearby village. Besides, during the war with China in 1979, this cave also provided shelters for villagers.
Nguom Ngao Cave is not only magnificent, but it also bears the Viet Bac’s distinction. The whole cave is such masterpiece. At the main entrance, you can enjoy the fresh and cool air from the mist inside. Going deep into the cave, tourists will have a chance admiring a picture of a fairyland, where lies sparkling rainbowed stalactites that hang down from high cliffs, or in the horizontal direction. The highlights of Nguom Ngao Cave are the stalagmites forming upside-down lotus chandelier, as well as other stones that bear resemblance to plants and animals.
3. Tours to explore Nguom Ngao Cave
There are available tours offering hourly from 05:30 to 18:00. Each tour endures about 2 hours and costs VND 80,000
IX. BRIEF SUMMARY OF 8 BEST CAVES IN VIETNAM
|Phong Nha Cave||Son Trach Ward, Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province||2 – 3 hours||07:30 – 16:00||VND 180,000 – VND 1,700,000/person|
|Paradise Cave||Son Trach Ward, Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province||2 – 2.5 hours
|08:00 – 17:00||VND 125,000 – VND 250,000
|Son Doong Cave||Son Trach Ward, Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province||2 days||Tours run once a week||$ 3,000/person|
|Tam Coc Cave||Ninh Hai Ward, Hoa Lu District, Ninh Binh Province||2 hours||07:00 – 17:00||VND 170,000 – VND 200,000/person|
|Trang An Cave System||The area of Hoa Lu, Gia Vien, and Nho Quan District, Ninh Binh Province||3 hours||07:00 – 18:00||VND 200,000/person|
|Sung Sot Cave||Viet Hai Ward, Cat Hai District, Quang Ninh Province||2 hours||06:30 – 18:30||VND 200,000/person|
|Dau Go Cave||Gia Luan Ward, Cat Hai District, Quang Ninh Province||2 hours||06:30 – 18:30||VND 200,000/person|
|Nguom Ngao Cave||Gun Village, Dam Thuy Ward, Trung Khanh District, Cao Bang Province||2 hours||05:30 – 18:00||VND 80,000/person|
These are the 8 famous caves in Vietnam. We hope that you will have an unforgettable time exploring the charming nature of thí beautiful country.