NatGeo names Vietnam’s cave, waterfall among top natural wonders

By VnExpress   January 19, 2017 | 07:23 pm PT
Son Doong and Ban Gioc are named among 'dramatic' natural sights in Asia.

The National Geographic just created a map of natural wonders in Asia, naming Son Doong Cave and Ban Gioc Falls among seven stunning sites that tourists should not miss.

Son Doong, as part of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in central Vietnam, is recommended among "dramatic" natural sights in the diverse nature of Asia.

The cave was opened to tourists in 2013, four years after members of the British Cave Research Association finished their exploration and declared it the world’s largest. Local man Ho Khanh discovered the cave in 1991.

A wide, fast river that tunneled through the earth over time formed the cave, hence the name, which means "Mountain River" in Vietnamese.

Its main cavern is big enough for a Boeing 747 aircraft, NatGeo described.

NatGeo in 2015 also provided a mesmerizing drone journey through the five kilometer-long system, with at least 150 individual caves, a dense subterranean jungle and several underground rivers.

Oxalis is now the only company licensed to bring tourists through Son Doong. A five-day expedition costs $3,000, and there are bus routes running from Hanoi to Dong Hoi, the capital town of Quang Binh, and then to the park.

Quang Binh Province government recently has raised the limit for annual number of tourists into the cave from 640 to 840. The province over the past years has proposed several developments, including a cable car system, to boost tourism in the area, but such plans have met with strong opposition from environmentalists and the public.

NatGeo’s list also includes the turquoise Gokyo Lakes of Nepal, the highest freshwater lake system in the world, Chocolate Hills in the Philippines, Mount Kelimutu in Indonesia, the colorful Zhangye Danxia Landform in China and Jigoku Valley in Japan.

"You are probably going to want to add some of these to your bucket list," it said.

Vietnam's Ban Gioc Falls rounds out the list. It sits along the Vietnam-China border, much like the Niagara Falls between the U.S. and Canada.


Ban Gioc Waterfalls as seen from rice fields in Cao Bang Province. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Tung

It is surrounded by karst rocks and green forest.

Swimming is banned here but there are small bamboo rafts that take tourists to the very edge of the falls.

“While the waters’ vertical drop is slight, the width of the cascades makes for an impressive sight,” NatGeo said.

Ban Gioc is around 225 miles from Hanoi, where tourists can take a bus from My Dinh to Cao Bang Province, and a second bus from the falls.

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