Brimming with astonishing caverns, from the colossal Son Doong to the mesmerizing Paradise Cave of Ha Long, you will undoubtedly be left breathless by Vietnam’s diverse natural cave wonders. Embarking on a journey to explore the mesmerizing caves of Vietnam can be a tranquil escapade, with peaceful strolls and serene boat rides to admire the splendid landscapes. Yet, for the intrepid souls, it can also be an arduous venture, demanding a tireless trek through lengthy paths, swimming across streams, wading through water, and crawling amidst stalactites and stalagmites.
Scroll down to discover the best caves of Vietnam where you will be awestruck by the country’s stunning natural and rich cultural heritage. Do not forget to consider our other intriguing Vietnam tours.
Why should you have cave experiences in Vietnam?
Vietnam is home to many amazing caves in the world including the Son Doong Cave, which is the world’s largest cave; En Cave, which is the world’s third largest cave, the Phong Nha Cave, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, etc. The caves of Vietnam are known for their stunning natural beauty, unique rock formations, and impressive underground rivers. They are popular destinations for tourists and adventure seekers from around the world.
Caving is considered an adventure sport. Also known as spelunking or potholing, it involves exploring natural underground caves and passages. Cavers often encounter physical challenges such as tight spaces, climbing, and navigating in the cave system. It can be a thrilling and challenging activity that will get you an incredibly rewarding and exhilarating experience. Caving can provide opportunities for adventure, physical activity, and personal growth, as cavers face challenges and push themselves to their limits in a safe and controlled environment. It is essential to make sure you are properly trained and equipped before attempting any caving activities.
Lastly, caving is a great way to learn and connect with nature and culture. Exploring the natural formations and underground environments can give cavers a unique appreciation for the natural world, as well as the geology and ecology of the areas you explore. Caves are also a place where many traces of primitive human life have been left behind. You will discover many fascinating things when exploring caves and linking them with their history and the local area.
7 best caves to Visit in Vietnam
Vietnam boasts a multitude of caves that are not only breathtakingly beautiful but also popular tourist destinations. Here are our choices of the best caves in Vietnam to visit.
Son Doong (Quang Binh)
Son Doong is widely known as the world’s largest cave located in Quang Binh province, Vietnam. It was discovered in 1991 by a local man named Ho Khanh who stumbled upon the entrance while foraging in the jungle.
What makes Son Doong Cave stand out is its size. It is over 8.85 km long and its largest chamber is over 200m high and 150m wide. The cave is so large that it even has its own weather system with clouds and mists forming inside.
Another unique feature of Son Doong is its incredible geological formations, including underground rivers, mud pools, and enormous stalactites and stalagmites. The cave also has a diverse ecosystem with unique cave-dwelling species that have adapted to the darkness and isolation of the cave environment.
Due to its size and incredible natural beauty, Son Doong Cave has become one of the most famous caves in Vietnam for adventure seekers and nature lovers. However, to register for the Son Doong discovery tour program, individuals will need to register and book in advance, with waiting times possibly up to a year, along with passing rigorous health checks, participating in cave training, and strictly complying with regulations when visiting the cave to ensure respect for nature and the restoration of the ecosystem.
Paradise Cave (Quang Binh)
Named “The Palace in the Cave,” Thien Duong Cave is one of the most magnificent and majestic caves in Vietnam, with a length of over 31.4km, a width of about 30 – 100m, and a height of about 60 – 80m. The Royal Society of Britain has rated it as the longest dry cave in Asia.
A local resident found the cave in 2005 and it was made accessible to the public in 2010. The inside of Paradise Cave is filled with stunning stalactites and stalagmites that have existed for millions of years. Tourists can participate in a guided tour of the cave to discover its various sections, which are lit up by vibrant lights that create a visual treat.
To reach the cave, visitors have two options: walking or taking an electric car through the forest for approximately 1.5 kilometers. Following this, one will embark on a 7-kilometer and 527-step journey to explore the cave.
En Cave (Quang Binh)
En Cave is situated in Quang Binh Province’s Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and is recorded as the 3rd largest natural cave in the world, with a length exceeding 1.6 kilometers. This cave is renowned for its exquisite formations, such as sprawling stalactites, stalagmites, and columns. Additionally, it boasts an underground river and a number of small cascades.
En Cave features two beautiful lakes with pristine blue waters, one warm and one cold, providing the perfect opportunity to soak and immerse yourself in nature’s embrace. The cave is a sanctuary for thousands of swallows during the summer months, hence the name En Cave, or Swallows Cave.
To fully enjoy the distinctiveness of the location, it is recommended to visit the cave in the dry season, which is typically between April and August annually. During this period, the water levels in the streams and underground rivers in the neighboring forest decrease significantly, making it more convenient to discover the cave and move around its convoluted pathways.
Hang Va and Nuoc Nut (Quang Binh)
Hang Va and Nuoc Nut are also parts of the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park in Quang Binh province, known for its stunning karst mountains and underground river systems.
Hang Va is an adventurous cave that requires trekking, wading through streams, and swimming in underground rivers to explore its splendid formations. It has impressive stalactites and stalagmites that resemble natural sculptures, shimmering crystal ponds, and ancient fossils.
On the other hand, Nuoc Nut is a shorter and easier cave to navigate in comparison to Hang Va. It has a unique system of underground rivers that flow through its spacious chambers, where visitors can enjoy the beauty of its rare formations.
The travel route to Hang Va – Nuoc Nut has a pleasant level of difficulty however it offers an impressive immersion. According to Howard Limbert, an expert of the Royal Cave Association of England, compared to other cave systems in Phong Nha – Ke Bang and many other places around the world, Va Cave and Nuoc Nut Cave have some very unique and strange features. It boasts a system of calcite and stone ponds that can be found in nowhere else.
Tu Lan Cave (Quang Binh)
Tu Lan Cave is a system of over 10 different caves and it is also home to diverse ecosystems including underground rivers, thriving vegetation, and unique wildlife. The main highlights of Tu Lan Cave include the impressive stalactites and stalagmites, stunning underground lakes, and the thrilling adventure of swimming and trekking in the cave system.
Tu Lan cave is incredibly unique unlike other caves in Quang Binh due to its special geological formation. The continuous movement and collision of geological blocks, along with the flowing streams, have created this cave. The Tu Lan cave system consists of two main types of caves: dry caves and wet caves. The constant changes in geology have formed a chain of caves from high to low. The dry caves located above with a longer lifespan, and the wet caves located below, much younger in age.
Sung Sot Cave (Quang Ninh)
Sung Sot Cave, one of the most famous caves located in the heart of Halong Bay, was discovered by the French in 1901. They named the cave “La Grotte des Surprises” (The Cave of Surprises) due to its stunning and magnificent beauty. However, it took 40 years to become more widely known.
Sung Sot is one of the must-visit destinations when someone visits Ha Long Bay. A glimpse into the hidden space behind the emerald water and thousands of small islands floating on the water surface brings an interesting perspective to tourists.
The structure of Sung Sot comprises of two main chambers. The first chamber is a spacious area adorned with small and large dents that are meticulously embellished with foam-like material. To reach the second chamber, visitors must traverse a narrow path that is flanked by towering walls that have been intricately carved with vivid depictions of myriad birds, gardens, lakes, ancient trees, dinosaurs, and more. The detailed engravings are so realistic and lifelike that they are sure to astonish anyone who visits the cave.
Tam Coc – Bich Dong (Ninh Binh)
Tam Coc – Bich Dong in Ninh Binh, Vietnam is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty and peaceful ambiance. Tam Coc translates to “three caves” which are Hang Ca (First Cave), Hang Hai (Second Cave), and Hang Ba (Third Cave). This destination is also famously known as Halong Bay on land. Bich Dong means “green cave” and was referred to as “the second finest cave under the Southern Sky” by the ancients. The combination of Tam Coc and Bich Dong make up a national focal point for tourism.
The main attraction in Tam Coc is the scenic boat tour along the Ngo Dong River that winds through rice paddies, limestone cliffs, and caves. The boat tour takes about two hours and visitors can enjoy the peacefulness of the surroundings while being rowed down the river by local drivers. The scenery of Tam Coc, especially the two sides of the Ngo Dong River, is extremely beautiful with green rice fields on both sides, turning yellow around the end of May and beginning of June.
Other popular activities in Tam Coc – Bich Dong include cycling along the countryside roads, visiting the ancient temples and pagodas, and sampling the local cuisine.
Tips for visiting caves in Vietnam
Here we add some tips for you to keep in mind when you enjoy your caving trip:
- Dress appropriately. Wear comfortable clothes and sturdy shoes with good traction.
- Bring the right equipment. Caving requires sure gear, like a helmet, headlamps, and gloves. Make sure to check with the tour operator on what equipment they provide.
- Follow the guide’s instructions. Your tour guide will give you detailed instructions on what to do and what not to do. Follow them carefully to stay safe.
- Respect the environment. Caves are delicate ecosystems, and any damage can be irreversible. Visitors should not damage anything, and make sure to dispose of trash properly.
- Enjoy the experience. Caving is an adventure of a lifetime! Do not forget to take in the stunning scenery and enjoy the thrill of exploring underground.
You will easily recognize Quang Binh as the most fascinating destination of caves in Vietnam, earning it the nickname “Kingdom of Caves.”. Along with that, Quang Ninh and Ninh Binh are also home to the most stunning limestone mountain landscapes in Vietnam for you to explore. Have you visited these caves before? Share your experience with us!