Active + Adventure

How to Vacation Like Indiana Jones

by Douglas Wright

Giant Caves of Phong Nha, Vietnam

Burrowed into the Annamite Mountains of Central Vietnam, the Hang Son Doong cave looks like something out of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World. Gargantuan stalactites hang over treacherous rocky terrain carpeted with moss and ferns in cavern chambers so large that Chicago's 40-story Tribune Tower could fit inside. Only a handful of brave explorers have ventured into the 2.5-mile mountain river cave (a team of British scientists mapped and photographed the entire length of the Hang Son Doong for National Geographic in 2010). While the cavern is considered too dangerous for casual visitors to enter, the Hang Son Doong is part of a network of over 150 karst caves in the Phong Nha–Ke Bang National Park, many of which are open to the public. The most popular caves are the colorful Tien Son, which has stalagmites that resemble wax-drip sculptures, and the park's namesake cave Phong Nha (or the "Cave of Teeth").

Follow the right path: Admission to the Phong Nha–Ke Bang National Park is issued by the Phong Nha Reception Department in the village of Son Trach. Boat transfer (the only way to access the nearby Phong Nha cave) is included. Although a few of the caves have been outfitted with electric lights, it's best to bring your own flashlight. Viet Vision Travel offers day trips from Hue to the Phong Nha caves.

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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