Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

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This national park thoroughly deserves its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its enormous caves. The most accessible of these is Phong Nha Cave. Packed with underground grottos, stalactites, stalagmites, and river systems, it extends back into the hills for many miles. The main cavern is some 5 miles (8 km) deep, with several smaller yet stunning caves clustered near it. Although speleologists have penetrated some 22 miles (35 km) into the cave system, there are further mysteries of Phong Nha still to be revealed. Not surprisingly, this is a very popular destination, and fleets of sampans wait at the visitors’ center to ferry passen gers up stream for about 3 miles (5 km), and then into the huge cavern. About a mile (1.6 km) into the cave is an area once held sacred by the Cham. The cave wall still bears an inscription carved by them many centuries ago. Also in the national park are two recently discovered caves – Thien Duong (Paradise Cave) and Son Doong (Mountain River Cave). Both the caves are now open to the public. Son Doong, also believed to be the biggest cave in the world, is the object of many scientific researches as well. Only a handful of tourists are permitted entry in a year and at the cost of thousands of dollars each.

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