and even has its own jungle!

Vietnam’s Hang Son Doong cave is the largest in the world, with caverns big enough to fit an entire city street inside them.

The cave, which contains a river and jungle (and apparently even clouds), is located in the Annamite Mountains in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province, Vietnam. It’s part of a network of about 150 caves in central Vietnam near the Laotian border.

The cave was originally discovered by a local man named Hồ-Khanh in 1991. The local jungle men were afraid of the cave for the whistling sound it makes from the underground river. However, not until 2009 was it made known to the public when a group of British scientists from the British Cave Research Association, led by Howard Limbert, conducted a survey in Phong Nha-Ke Bang from April 10-14, 2009. According to Limbert, this cave is five times larger than the Phong Nha cave, previously considered the biggest cave in Vietnam. The biggest chamber of Son Doong is over five kilometers in length, 200 meters high and 150 meters wide. With these dimensions, Son Doong overtakes Deer Cave in Malaysia to take the title of the world’s largest cave.

Amazingly enough, the cave is only now being properly surveyed.

Here is an excerpt from  2011’s first National Geographic magazine which features an in depth look at a mammoth series of caves discovered in Vietnam:

“An enormous shaft of sunlight plunges into the cave like a waterfall. The hole in the ceiling through which the light cascades is unbelievably large, at least 300 feet across. The light, penetrating deep into the cave, reveals for the first time the mind-blowing proportions of Hang Son Doong. The passage is perhaps 300 feet wide, the ceiling nearly 800 feet tall: room enough for an entire New York City block of 40-story buildings. There are actually wispy clouds up near the ceiling.” (Read the full article here.)


Photos: Peter Carsten (National Geographics)