Deeper underground: Vietnam opens up more of mystical cave kingdom

By Hoang Tao   January 10, 2018 | 03:55 pm GMT+7

Adventurers can now explore the world’s fourth largest cave, but it's not for the faint-hearted.

Tours to Pygmy Cave that lies deep in Vietnams world-renowned cave kingdom in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park of Quang Binh Province have been opened to tourists.

Tours to Pygmy Cave deep in Vietnam’s world-renowned cave kingdom in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Quang Binh Province, have been opened to visitors.

The entrance into Pygmy, currently the fourth biggest of its kind in the world as ranked by the British Cave Research Association, stretches about 100 meters wide and high and 845 meters long. This tour into the cave lasts three days and two nights.

The entrance to Pygmy Cave, currently the fourth largest in the world as ranked by the British Cave Research Association, is about 100 meters in height and width.

Inside the cave is a flow of water running down from the roof, and visitors can take advantage of it for their daily activities.

Water trickles down from the roof of the cave which visitors can take advantage of.

Sunbeams go deep into the cave, allowing the growth of ferns. Pygmy is a neighbor of Son Doong and En, the worlds biggest and third biggest cave that have gained lots of international fame in recent years.

Sunlight penetrates the depths of the cave allowing ferns to grow. Pygmy Cave is a neighbor of Son Doong and En, the world’s biggest and third biggest caves that have received lots of international attention in recent years.

At the back of the cave, tourists can spot many ropes and bamboo ladders that were set up by locals in the past to get birds nests and honey. These activities have been prohibited in lines with updated regulations on forest protection. It was local people that discoverred Pygmy in 1997 before it is properly explored by the British Cave Research Association later.

At the back of the cave, tourists can see the ropes and ladders that locals used to climb to collect bird’s nests and honey. This has now been prohibited under new forest protection regulations. Local people discovered Pygmy Cave in 1997 before it was properly explored by the British Cave Research Association.

Last November, Quang Binh gave the go-ahead for a local firm to operate tours into on a pilot scheme into three more caves of Dai Ai, Over and Pygmy. The tour to explore Pygmy also brings tourists to Over Cave, as seen in this photo,k and another cave in the system called Ho (Tiger).

Last November, Quang Binh gave the go-ahead for a local firm to launch pilot tours into Dai Ai, Over and Pygmy caves. The three-day/two-night tour to Pygmy Cave also takes visitors to Over Cave, as seen in this photo, and another cave in the system called Ho (Tiger) Cave.

Over Cave, 90 meters high and 3.2 kilometers (1.2 miles) long, boasts a rich system of stalactite and terraced emerald lakes.

Over Cave, 90 meters high and 3.2 kilometers long, boasts a rich system of stalactites and terraced emerald lakes.

Each tour serves 14 guests at most. To join this tour, you should have good health to trek through the forest, wade across streams and swim inside the caves.

Each tour caters for a maximum of 14 guests. Before you register for a tour, make sure you're healthy enough to trek through the forest, wade across streams and swim inside the caves.

The first day of the tour will drop you at Ho Cave. Keep in mind that you will have to trek eight kilometers to get here.

The first day of the tour is a descent into Ho Cave. Keep in mind that you will have to trek 8 kilometers (4.2 miles) to get here.

The second day is for Over and Pygmy.

The second day takes in Over and Pygmy.

Belts and safety ropes are requested at a section inside Over Cave, where tourists have to get through a wet and high stalactite block.

Belts and safety ropes are needed through a section inside Over Cave, where tourists have to traverse a high stalactite block. Ending the tour, you will have to trek another 7.2 kilometers to get back to the main road.

Ending the tour, you will have to trek 7.2 kilometers again to get back to the main road. The entire tour cost from VND10 million ($440) per person and is opened every day.

The entire tour to Over, Tiger and Pygmy caves costs from VND10 million ($440) per person and runs every day. As a UNESCO Heritage Site, Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is home to over 300 caves and grottoes that date back 400 million years. Around 30 caves are now open to visitors, which has created a tourism boom and helped the poor, war-torn province. Controversy still surrounds Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc's decision last year  to 'agree in principle” to a plan proposed by Quang Binh to build a cable car into the cave kingdom.