There is no better way to bring out the adventure in you than going on such an expedition. Hang En is the third largest cave in the world. It is part of the same cave system as Son Doong, the first biggest. Enough to bring your adrenaline right up.
You will notice that most cave names begin with Hang. This is because Hang is a cave in Vietnamese.
The Adventure Begins
Another early start awaits to begin the adventure. This being so we first drive through Phong Na Khe Bang National Park. The beginning of the trail will lead us to a 6-hour trek to Hang En. I am working hard not to think about the leeches we are told we may encounter on our way. Here we go, heading out into the unknown, crossing rivers and trekking through the Vietnamese jungle in the breathtaking scenery of limestone mountains and green tropical jungle.
We stopped at the minority village of Ban Doong for our lunch break on the way. On a full stomach we went back into the rivers and the jungle again on our exhausting hike in particularly unpleasant humid weather.
Hang En Cave
This is all forgotten by the time we get there because nothing beats that feeling of arriving. When you enter the cave and pause for a moment to admire our unbelievable campsite, laid out on a white sand beach inside the cave with a natural blue water pool.
We all chose our tents, checked ourselves for leeches and off we went for a swim in this incredible pool inside of our home for the night.
By the time everyone was almost fully recovered from our day of hiking, Oxalis team had prepared an amazing meal. It was a feast you would not expect to be served in a cave in the middle of nowhere.
After our memorable meal, the dinner table turned into a game table. Our guides made us all play games and then brought out the cards and taught us a Vietnamese card game along with other games.
It was such a lovely evening because everyone was together, around the table, playing, exchanging, drinking rice wine (a.k.a happy water) and laughing all evening. Enjoying our unusual experience of camping in a cave, in the middle of nature.
Deeper into the cave
The next morning, the adventure really begins! After a scrumptious breakfast, equipped with our helmets and headlamps we head deeper inside of the cave. We climbed to the top of the big room we had spent our night in, in order to reach an entrance to a different room. Then, we moved deeper, to inspect the 300 million-year-old fossils. We found a place for our cave group picture moment before switching our headlights off to find that it is pitch black. Not one ray of light to be seen anywhere, to my surprise knowing that both cave openings are so grand.
And you can only question how lucky you are to enjoy a mindblowing wonder of nature without thousands of tourists in sight. Instead, we are 8 adventurers enjoying every moment of these discoveries.
The caves in Vietnam are beautiful. But most of them are wired with lights, paved with paths and are full of litter.
Hang En gives you the impression that you have discovered a wonderful place where no one has ever been before. And this is a privileged feeling that I would imagine all travelers are seeking.
It was by far my most incredible experience and the most amazing spot in Vietnam. And I will always remember that time I camped in a cave, completely cut off from the outside world!
To visit this impressive cave you will have to go on a tour. There is no way of doing it yourself without a guide. Oxalis is the only tour operator with authorization to offer tours to Hang en cave. The hike is a total of 22km and 4km of caving.
The tour was a total of VND 7 500 000, the equivalent of close to $300 which seems, at first, quite a startling price for Vietnam. The government allows is a limited number of people to visit Hang En per year. When you see the professionalisms of the team and more staff than guests including the guides, porters, chefs, bus driver… All of our included meals were amazing. All that food along with your bags are carried through the jungle on the back of Oxalis team members which justifies the price which may seem very high.
Explore more. There is matcha more to life!