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Mekong Delta day tour – Cai Rang floating market

Mr. Ninh arranged a wonderful trip for us from Saigon to the Cai Rang floating market. I tried to arrange a day trip to Cai Rang with other more reviewed Mekong delta tour groups with no luck. They would only go to Cai Be in one day, which is not the same as Cai Rang.  All in all, a great tour and just what I wanted!

Mekong Delta day tour – Cai Rang floating market

June 5, 2016

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Son Doong Cave Expedition

Day 1: Phong Nha – Ban Doong Village – Hang En Cave Commence your adventure Son Doong cave expedition by Enjoy breakfast at 8:00 am before departing at 9:00 am for the first leg of the expedition. You’ll leave extra luggage and any valuables at the Oxalis headquarters before heading to pick up the porter […]

son doong cave expedition

Dong Hoi – Safety Briefing – Local hotel in Phong Nha

Arrive in Dong Hoi by no later than 2 pm on the afternoon of your briefing day, where you will be met by a member of our team and transferred to either Oxalis Home Hotel or Ho Khanh’s Homestay. Both are located just next to the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park. You’ll then have the rest of the day to rest, relax and wander around the village of Phong Nha. You will be required to purchase your own breakfast and lunch on this day.

Around 5:30-6:00pm you will congregate in the hotel restaurant before transfer to Oxalis Headquarters, where you’ll meet your technical advisor and guide team for your safety briefing and equipment check. The briefing is mandatory. Anyone who chooses not to join the briefing may be eliminated from the tour without refund. Please have all belongings you’ll be taking on the trek prepared before the safety briefing and ready to bring to Oxalis, as immediately after the briefing we will collect everyone’s belongings in individually labeled large plastic bags, and send them to our porters to prepare for the following day. You will receive your belongings each evening once you get to your campsite. Therefore, anything you want to take with you during the day you should keep in a separate backpack (e.g. cameras, tripods etc.). Before dinner, you will be given your helmet for the trip; the helmet will then be your responsibility for the duration of the tour. Please note that the Release Form needs to be signed at the safety briefing. After that, enjoy dinner with your team at around 7:30 pm at Oxalis headquarters, after which you will be transferred back to your hotel for a good night’s sleep.

  • Operating: Feb to August

 

  • Duration: 5 days / 4 nights (plus 1 night before and 1 night after the expedition)
  • Adventure Level: Difficult; for physically active guests (50 km+)
  • Availability: Weekly Departures
  • Small Group Tours: max 10 guests per departure
  • Minimum Age: 18 years
  • Price: VND 67,500,000 or US$3,000/pax (incl. $660 National Park fee)

 

Day 1: Phong Nha – Ban Doong Village – Hang En Cave

Commence your adventure Son Doong cave expedition by Enjoy breakfast at 8:00 am before departing at 9:00 am for the first leg of the expedition. You’ll leave extra luggage and any valuables at the Oxalis headquarters before heading to pick up the porter team and setting off for adventure.

After a 45 minute drive along Road 20 of the Ho Chi Minh Highway you’ll reach the trailhead, where you’ll start trekking for approximately 1 hour downhill through the forest, which is quite steep at times. Walk for half an hour along a small stream to the minority village of Ban Doong, which is a real highlight for many on this expedition. Learn more about this unique ethnic group of people and enjoy lunch beside a small river.

After this point, you will be in the sun all afternoon with about 2 hours along a river, with very little shade. You’ll cross the river many times so please expect to have wet feet for the whole day. In the summer, the water is only usually knee deep, but Gore-Tex boots will fill and hold the water so therefore they are not recommended (please see our detailed FAQ for footwear recommendation).

You’ll then reach the entrance to Hang En Cave, home to thousands of swifts. Here you’ll be given your headlight and you will trek/boulder approximately 20-30 minutes to your campsite inside the cave. The group should arrive at camp by 3:00 pm where you can enjoy swimming and washing within the underground river. Dinner will be served at the spectacular campsite with numerous photographic opportunities.

Anyone who is unable to complete any stage of this first day comfortably will be turned around to Phong Nha and will not be permitted to continue the expedition. This will be the decision of the guide team on your tour. Should you be turned around, all tour costs will be forfeited.

Day 2: Hang En Cave – Son Doong Entrance – Hand of Dog – SD Camp 1

You’ll again begin your day with a delicious breakfast at around 8:00 am. You’ll be in for a very tough day today so it’s best to enjoy a big breakfast, as you’ll need your energy!

Start your trek at 9:00 am through Hang En Cave for about 30 mins to reach the magnificent exit, made famous by many photographers over the past few years. You’ll scramble down to the river valley and then it’s an hour walk through the river, so your boots are going to be wet for most of the day; it is unavoidable, yet part of the fun.

You’ll then start climbing a steep hill for about 45 minutes with some rocky sections to start. At the top of the hill you’ll enjoy lunch, a safety briefing and fit your safety harness and prepare for your big journey underground. A steep descent with a couple of short rope climbs brings you at last to Son Doong entrance.

With your safety harnesses, you’ll then start the 80 m descent into the cave by making a number of short climbs, using ropes and safety lines with your guides’ assistance. There is no rappelling or abseiling at any point during the expedition. You’ll then enjoy a few more climbs and bouldering to reach the first and second river crossings inside the cave, which are no more than knee-to-thigh deep depending on the water levels. You should have a wash here, as it will be the last washing place for the day.

On your way to the first campsite in the first large passage of the cave, you’ll have to be extra careful as there are a number of big drops and scrambling over boulders along a rocky path before reaching one of the most spectacular views: Hand of Dog and daylight streaming through the cave, thanks to the first doline! You will then scramble down to the first campsite of Son Doong around 3 – 4 pm and have the afternoon to soak up the views and rest your weary bodies. You’re in for another big meal with your team before turning in for the night.

Please note that there are no washing facilities at camp on this day.

Day 3: SD Camp 1 – Watch out for Dinosaurs – Great Wall of Vietnam – SD Camp 2

Your day begins with a hearty breakfast with your team before a 9:00 am departure towards your second campsite in Son Doong Cave.  You’ll start with some rocky climbs, which are quite steep in some places, as you reach the first jungle within the cave at Watch Out for Dinosaurs. It will take about 1.5 hrs to travel within the cave from Camp 1 to Watch Out for Dinosaurs. After a short break you’ll be trotting down the rocky path to reach the enormous Green Gours, one of the most magnificent and famous photography spots on the tour! A light lunch is provided with an incredible backdrop of the first doline. If you are lucky you may even catch some sunbeams, which make for truly spectacular photos.

It is then a walk through the cave past gigantic formations and plenty of cave pearls towards the light of the second doline and main jungle within the cave. Follow the path past the beautiful foliage reaching towards the light, to reach the underground jungle, unlike anything you could experience on the planet! Cross the jungle for around 45 minutes to reach the steep and sometimes slippery path down to your second campsite within Son Doong Cave. You will reach camp around 2 – 3 pm.

After a short rest at your campsite, you are back on your feet and heading deeper within the cave towards the Great Wall of Vietnam. You’ll pass through a very large dry passage with huge stalagmites and great views back to the second doline. Many new creepy crawlies have been discovered within this passage including white spiders, fish, woodlouse and shrimp species, so be sure to keep your eyes open.

You will reach at this point either a very large beautiful underground lake (where you’ll then paddle to reach the Great Wall of Vietnam) or you will find a fantastically adventurous muddy pit (at which you will need to trudge your way through for a few hundred meters to reach the wall). It is entirely optional if you wish to go further and reach the actual wall, as you will get very dirty in the mud and there are no bathing facilities on this day at camp (pack plenty of wet wipes if you decide on the plunge).

You’ll be back at camp again around 6 pm to enjoy a sensational dinner with your team and delight yourself with an evening of games and entertainment, or simply relax and soak up the views at what is quite possibly the very best campsite in the world.

Quick note: you may use a pair of dry boots on this day, as aside from the mud, there are no water crossings! Also, there are no washing facilities at camp on this day.

Day 4: SD Camp 2 – Fossil Passage – Nat Geo View Point – Hang En Cave

After refueling with another hot breakfast you’ll pack up camp and start heading back to the first doline, with a slightly different route through a small oxbow passage above the underground river in which there is a very steep drop, where you will need to use a rope and safety line.

Once you have reached the first campsite around 11 am, you’ll have time for a short break before climbing down to the ancient fossil passage, where you will witness 350 million year old coral fossils. Enjoy a small wash in the pools and a hearty lunch before descending back to the main passage, crossing the river twice and proceeding to climb up to the entrance, again strapped in with your harness and safety lines.

Your group will appear out from the entrance of Son Doong around 2 – 3 pm, at which point you’ll have a chance to enjoy a small break and some snacks. Then head back towards the river valley, where you can enjoy a well-deserved and refreshing wash. Walk along the river back to Hang En for your final evening and celebration with porter team at this underground campsite.

Day 5: Hang En Cave – Ban Doong Village – Phong Nha

Wake up early and start your 10 km trek back to Road 20 after breakfast. You’ll follow the river along the valley and back through Ban Doong Village. You will enjoy snacks and fruit along the way before starting on what is quite a difficult climb back up the mountain for the last hour of your big adventure. Cold drinks await you at the top of the hill before a 45 minute drive back to Chay Lap Farmstay http://chaylapfarmstay.com/ where cool towels and a refreshing swimming pool are waiting for you. You will have an afternoon to relax after your long trek before enjoying a group farewell dinner with your fellow expedition team members.

Please advise our sales team in advance of your departure time so that they can arrange the logistics of your transfer back to the airport or train station. If you would like to extend your holiday in Phong Nha, let our team know so that we can assist you in booking extra nights at Chay Lap Farmstay.

We Will Provide

  • Camping gear: tent, sleeping mat, pillow and sleeping bag
  • Caving & safety gear: caving helmet, caving headlight, harness and gloves
  • Meals: breakfast (day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), lunch (day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), dinners (briefing day, day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • 1.5 L bottled water at the top of the trailhead/trekking point
  • Base Camp water filter and purifier (application by guide and porters)
  • Basic camping facilities with eco-friendly compost toilet using western toilet seat
  • First Aid Kit, Medical Rescue Equipment & Satellite Phone (application by technical advisor and tour guides only)
  • 1 Technical Advisor (member of the British Cave Research Association)
  • 1 professional English-speaking tour guide,  5 safety assistants and 2 chefs
  • 22 porters to carry all gear and prepare all meals

You Will Need

  • 2 – 3 long quick dry, full length pants and 4 – 5 (easy to dry) shirts to wear during the trek; thick athletic leggings/running tights/yoga pants are acceptable if they are full-length and not see-through. Jeans are not acceptable. You may feel more comfortable packing a set of clothes for each day, but most people re-wear trekking clothes for multiple days. Please see the Son Doong FAQ: Packing section for more information
  • 1 – 2 pair of shorts and t-shirt to wear at campsite (plus your swimsuit for Hang En); warmer camp clothes suggested for colder months
  • 1 Fleece and 1 lightweight windproof/jacket (February – April only)
  • Trekking boots/shoes – difficult terrain, good footwear necessary. Recommended: Five-Ten Canyoneer 3. Gore-Tex/waterproof boots are NOT recommended as they do not drain well. Also consider bringing a backup pair of shoes. Refer to Son Doong FAQ: Packing section for more information
  • Underwear
  • 1 pair of flip flop (sandals) for campsite
  • 1 medium size towel
  • 4 – 5 pairs of calf-length close weave socks (not ankle socks or waterproof socks – no neoprene; SmartWool is a good brand; if you go with cotton, make sure it’s composed of 50% or less cotton)
  • Anti-fungal foot powder (talcum powder)
  • Wet wipes (very limited bathing inside the cave!)
  • Biodegradable soap and shampoo for use in rivers (only eco-friendly soap is acceptable, otherwise please plan to wash with wet wipes or just water)
  • Medium sized rucksack/backpack for daily belongings (most people find 25 L adequate;  backpack must fit the helmet we will provide for you and cannot be strapped to the outside; you will also be responsible for carrying your own tripod in your backpack)
  • Water bottle at least 1.5 L
  • Personal items – toiletries, medication, camera, tripod, spare batteries (toiletries should also include feminine hygiene products for ladies, even if it’s “just in case”)
  • Sunscreen and hat
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Small head-torch for use around camp
  • Rehydration tablets
  • ‘Compeed’/blister dressings
  • Medication – bring any essential medication and anything you take regularly (e.g anti-inflammatories). We supply drugs for emergency/unexpected conditions only.
  • AA/AAA batteries if needed (low quality only available locally)

The following items are not required but highly recommended:

  • Dry bag in the event of rain (for camera, clothing, and personal items within your daypack); alternatively, a backpack cover would be a good idea especially for the rainier months of February – April
  • Gloves, as ours are one-size-fits-all (if you bring your own, please choose gloves with fingertips)
  • Cotton or silk sleeping bag liner
  • Swimwear (for Hang En)
  • Ankle gaiters to help prevent silt/gravel inside shoes (especially if you have shoes instead of boots)
  • Trekking poles; please only bring them if you are accustomed to using them
  • If you are serious about photography, please bring your tripod along with your camera (this must be able to fit in your daypack)

Important Notes: We will have porters carry any of your gear that you will not require during each day (e.g. camera equipment/clothes you do not need during the day can be taken ahead to the campsite for you). You will not be able to access this until you reach the campsite. Please respect our porters and do not bring too much luggage for them to carry (7 kg per person). No outdoor equipment is available in Phong Nha, and only limited items in Hanoi or Saigon.

Drones are NOT permitted on the Son Doong Expedition or the Son Doong Photography Expedition.

We recommend 5:10 canyoneering boots for this trip. Otherwise, good quality trekking boots/shoes such as Keen/Merrell/Salomon. Gore-Tex not recommended. Please read FAQ part on our website for more information.

 Regarding drones:

Drones are NOT allowed on the Son Doong Photography Expedition. There is no exception to this policy.

son doong cave expedition

son doong cave expedition

son doong cave expedition Phong Nha

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