Vietnam beauty queen rocks Son Doong Cave

By Van An    February 10, 2020 | 03:41 am PT
A series of photos by Hai An capture a four-day journey to Son Doong, declared the world's largest cave, by Miss Universe Vietnam 2017 H’Hen Nie last month.

The thrilling tour covered over 20 kilometers from Doong Village to the world’s third largest cave Hang En to end in Son Doong in Phong Nha Ke-Bang National Park, central Quang Binh Province.

The beauty queen (front, middle) traveled with 34 others, including Howard Limbert, head member of British Cave Research Association, National Park management board members, a ranger, an international expert in caves, professional photographers and an experienced guide.


On the first day, the group trekked from Phong Nha to Hang En and set up camp for the night. H’Hen Nie said it proved the most effortless day after advancing only four kilometers through rainforests and over streams. Arriving at their first stop, she received extensive training to become more agile at solving potential complications in the cave.  

Styled in traditional E De garments of her ethnic group, the beauty queen sits atop a large rock overlooking the camp.

Styled in traditional E De garments of her ethnic group, the beauty queen sat atop a large rock overlooking the camp.


After a rejuvenating night, H’Hen Nie woke early to wash her face and frolic in the nearby lake.


Luminescent rays of sunshine seep through the cave entrance to create a dreamy, mythical sight.


Once out of Hang En Cave, H’Hen Nie encountered streams of water weaving through the rocky terrain and trekked to the entrance of Son Doong Cave. The further one penetrates the cave, the more impressive the view becomes. Shades of stalactites glimmer in the daylight, composing a mesmerizing painting.


On the third day, Miss Universe Vietnam and her crew departed early to visit Green Gours and Watch Out for Dinosaurs, a collapse doline that formed via natural erosion.

In particular, this expedition was more demanding as the group had to trudge along slippery, slanted rocks for an extensive period of time. As a result, H’Hen Nie’s stamina quickly faded. After dropping by these sites, the crew proceeded into the dark cave to learn more about inhabiting species, cave pearls, and flowstones.


On the final day, the group viewed the world’s largest cave pearl, a calcite animal skeleton and the challenging, 90 meter Great Wall of Vietnam.


The climb requires special equipment and for the initial 20 meters, explorers are supported by a sturdy metal ladder previously positioned by the national park management board. Following the first step, they then have to swing on a rope to complete the challenge.

Due to the slimy facet of the cliff, H’Hen Nie abruptly fell and hit a rock after climbing a short distance. However, she only suffered from minor scratches with thanks to the protection of her uniform and was assisted immediately.

With her phobia of heights and this fresh incident, H’Hen Nie spent the next few moments calming herself and regaining confidence to traverse the next 60 meters. Once she accomplished the task, members of the crew hugged and rejoiced alongside the beauty queen.


"That was the biggest challenge of my life. When atop the Great Wall of Vietnam, no word could express the pride I felt. Not only did I successfully conquer the biggest cave in the world, but my own fear and thoughts," she said.


Through this unique experience, H’Hen Nie expressed gratitude for the awareness this trip has raised around the country’s geological diversity and the need for environment protection.

First explored in 2009-2010 by British Cave Research Association, Son Doong has only been open to the public since 2013. All tourist expeditions have thus far been organized and led by local adventure tour company Oxalis, in partnership with the association.

The U.K.-based travel guide publisher, Lonely Planet, named Son Doong Cave among the best places to visit in 2019, while the New York Times labeled it among the world’s top eight travel destinations. The National Geographic has called it a "natural wonder" in Asia.

Born 1992 in the Central Highlands, H’Hen Nie was the first Miss Vietnam from an ethnic minority group and the first Vietnamese woman to be a top 5 finisher at a Miss Universe contest.

go to top