Lonely Planet Writer

Vietnam's 2017 Son Doong Cave tours sell out in less than a day

Hang Son Doong, or Mountain River Cave, is the world’s largest – but only a limited number of visitors are able to see the incredible attraction in Vietnam each year.

Hang Son Doong.
Hang Son Doong, the world’s largest cave. Image by Doug Knuth / CC BY-SA 2.0

Only one tour operator has the ability to bring travellers on the trek into the cave, and tickets for 2017 expeditions went on sale this week and, according to the tour company, Oxalis Adventure Tours, sold out in the first 20 hours.

Hang Son Doong is located in the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, which was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2003. Not only is the park home to the world’s largest cave, but it actually has hundreds of cave systems as well.

Vietnam's cavernous Son Doong cave are world famous and two new caves. the x and y
Vietnam’s cavernous Son Doong Cave. Image by Nguyen Tan Tin / CC BY 2.0

Oxalis Adventure Tours has noted that the company may only organise tours for 500 to 600 people during the January to August season, reports the Thanh Nien News in Vietnam. The company notes that due to safety and conservation matters, the government of Quang Binh province only allows Oxalis to bring tourists into the cave.

The tickets are sold to the first applicants who meet all of the health requirements, as the six-day trips require travellers to be able to trek about 50 kilometres, and navigate through the caves. The cave has only been open to tourists since 2013 and, according to Oxalis, fewer people have seen the inside of the cave than have summited Everest. The tours cost US$3000 per person.

Hang En cave, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Vietnam.
Hang En cave, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Vietnam. Image by Kevin Boutwell

Hang Son Doong is over five kilometres long, and reaches 200 metres tall and 150 metres wide. According to Oxalis, the cave is big enough to fit an entire New York City block with 40-storey skyscrapers.