A province in central Vietnam has been listed by a famous U.S. newspaper among the world’s top 52 places to go this year thanks to its enormous, world-renowned Son Doong Cave.
The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism reported Thursday on its website that Quang Binh Province ranked 8th out of 52 places and was the top spot in Asia in a list issued by The New York Times.
Son Doong Cave was the main reason behind Quang Binh’s addition to the list this year, according to the Vietnamese ministry.
“Son Doong Cave in the Quang Binh province of central Vietnam is one of the world’s largest caves and is now, for the first time, accessible to tourists, thanks to the tour operator Oxalis," The New York Times said in its description of the cave.
“Huge shafts of light penetrate its vast caverns, allowing forests of 100-foot-tall trees to thrive in spaces big enough to accommodate 40-story skyscrapers. Colossal 260-foot stalactites are also present,” it said in sharing the magnitude of the cave.
The New York Times also named several types of animals including monkeys, hornbills, and flying foxes that visitors might see if they visit. These creatures have been spotted in Son Doong Cave, which was first fully explored in 2009.
“While trips into Son Doong are limited in number (only 220 permits for the year) and to visitors with deep pockets (over $6,000 per trip), the nearby and more affordable Tu Lan Cave is also now open to adventurous travelers,” the site shared for travelers who want to visit somewhere else in the area.
Cape Town in South Africa ranked first in the list, while Niagara Falls in New York finished out the rankings.
Son Doong Cave, which has a large fast-flowing underground river inside, was discovered by a local resident named Ho Khanh in 1991.
The cave became famous after a group of British scientists from the British Cave Research Association, led by Howard and Deb Limbert, conducted a survey in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, which was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in April 2009.
According to the Limberts, this cave is five times larger than Phong Nha cave, previously considered the biggest in Vietnam.
The largest chamber of Son Doong is more than five kilometers long, 200 meters high, and 150 meters wide. With such large dimensions, Son Doong has overtaken Deer Cave in Malaysia to take the title of the world's largest cave.