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Son Doong Cave among seven new wonders for 2020

Released at: 06:14, 03/01/2020

Son Doong Cave among seven new wonders for 2020

Photo: Conde Nast Traveler

World's largest cave boasts a landscape unlike anywhere else on Earth.

by Le Diem

Son Doong Cave has been listed among the seven wonders of the world for 2020 by the renowned US-based magazine Conde Nast Traveler.

Located in the central province of Quang Binh, the Cave features the planet’s largest chamber, measuring 200 meters high, 100 meters wide, and over 5 km in length. It could fit an entire New York City block inside it, including skyscrapers, and a Boeing 747 could soar through it and not so much as dent its wings, according to the site.

The cave is so massive it even has its own weather system, it added. Clouds gather around colossal natural skylights 100 meters across that pour beams of light into the abyss inside. And where that light shines, life springs up: a rich subterranean jungle filled with rare plants, milky white insects, and hanging vines that creep around enormous stalactites and stalagmites. The cave is also home to a troop of monkeys - the only ones on the planet to make their home underground rather than in trees.

A five-day expedition that includes two nights camping out in Son Doong itself allows tourists to see a landscape unlike anywhere else on Earth - a gargantuan lost world hidden beneath the ground.

Six other new wonders for 2020 as voted by Conde Nast Traveler included Mosquito Bay in Puerto Rico, Meteor Crater in Arizona, Marianna Trench in the Marianna Islands, Don Sheldon Ampitheater in Alaska, the International Space Station and Low Earth Orbit, and Caracol in Belize.

Son Doong was discovered by a local resident in 1991. It was first explored in 2009 by the British Cave Research Association and has been open to the public since 2013. It has been recognized as the largest of its kind in the world by three international record-keeping organizations - Guinness, the Association World, and WorldKings.

It was opened to tourists in 2013 and the 5-km-long network contains at least 150 individual caves, a dense subterranean jungle, and several underground rivers. Due to limited space, registrations for Son Doong tours must be made well in advance. According to Oxalis, the exclusive tour operator to the cave, only 300 slots are available this year and tours are booked out until 2021. Local Quang Binh authorities recently increased the number of tourists in a year to 900.

Tours are growing in popularity, and with Son Doong getting prominent coverage from National Geographic, CNN, and Good Morning America, its home, the Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park, has become a go-to destination in Vietnam for adventurous travelers. Images of Son Doong were featured at the latest MV “Alone Pt.II” by Alan Walker, a British-born Norwegian DJ and record producer.

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