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The Son Doong Cave is the world’s largest cave, located in the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in the Quang Binh province of Central Vietnam. The cave is 5.5 miles long, and could fit a 40 story skyscraper between its walls.

And we didn’t even know it existed.

San Doong Cave, Vietnam | Travel | @projectinspo
photo: Carsten Peter/National Geographic/Getty Images
 

The cave was unknown to the human race until it was officially explored in 2009 to 2010 by the British Cave Research Association. However, glimpses of its existence was first seen by local man Ho Kanh in 1990, when he stumbled across an opening of a limestone cliff while walking through the jungles of the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, where he often frequented to collect food and timber to support himself. On this journey, he saw an opening of a limestone cliff and followed the sounds of a river coming from inside a cave.

San Doong Cave, Vietnam | Travel | @projectinspo
photo: Carsten Peter/National Geographic/Getty Images
 

Despite being so close to discovery, Kanh decided not to take his curiosity further when he felt a strong and potentially dangerous wind coming from the cave.

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In 2008, Ho Kanh found the opening again on one of his trips to the National Park, this time making a detailed note of the path to get there. Then, in 2009, he led a team of professionals to enter what became known as the Son Doong Cave.

 

San Doong Cave, Vietnam | Travel | @projectinspo
photo: Carsten Peter/National Geographic/Getty Images

 

So, how easy is it to visit this cave as a tourist?

Not quite as easy as you’d might like, but it’s definitely a possibility. If you’re an adrenalin junkie and have $3,000 to spare, adventure tour company Oxalis offers two types of tours to see the cave, a photography tour for the creatives, and an expedition tour for the thrill seekers. You’ll be accompanied by a team of safety experts for six days, and there’s a limit of ten guests per departure.

 

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But it’s an exhausting journey.

Ropes and harnesses are needed to get down 80 meters to the floor of the cave, but the beauty is worth it. The cave is surrounded by the stunning Garden of Edam, and on the first night of the tour, visitors camp next to the Hand of Dog, a giant slaglamite resembling a dog’s paw.

 
San Doong Cave, Vietnam | Travel | @projectinspo
photo: Carsten Peter/National Geographic/Getty Images
 

Other unmissable features of the cave include ‘cave pearls’ – formed over hundreds of years when dripping water created a layer of calcite that built up against grains of sand, and a serene river at the bottom of the cave, coming from an unknown source.

 

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For those lucky to visit, the Son Doong Cave is one of the most beautiful untouched landmarks of the world, and upon its discovery, has made its mark in modern history.

So, would you be up for the challenge?