Thanks to karst topography in many regions and tropical monsoon climate, nature awarded Vietnam many beautiful caves. Beside Son Doong – the natural biggest cave in the world and Phong Nha – one of the most world's beautiful caves, there are also many amazing ones over Vietnam.
1. Tam Coc – Ninh Binh Province
This cave system consists of limestone grottoes and historical vestiges concerning Tran dynasty, located in Hoa Lu District of Ninh Binh. “Tam Coc” means “three caves”, including Ca (First), Hai (Second) and Ba (Third). They are all erosional caves. Over many thousands of years, Ngo Dong River has flowed through mountains and created these caves.
Ca is 127 m long, which is the crossing-part of the big mountain. The cave’s entrance is 20 m long. Its ceiling has countless limestone stalactites hanging down with very various shapes. Inside Ca, the climate is so cool. Hai is 1 km from Ca, 60 m in length. Its ceiling has numerous uncanny stalactites. Ba is near Hai, has a length of 50 m, with the ceiling like a stone arch, lower than that of the others.
Admiring Tam Coc, travelers embark boat from the central wharf. Boats will go down stream along winding Ngo Dong River, drifting through cliffs, erosional caves, karst towers and rice fields. Along the two sides, rice changes colors according to seasons, green then yellow, beside sliver color of water above paddies.
On the boat trip, travelers can visit Thai Vi temple, where worships Tran Kings, and Thien Huong Cave (its peak is empty so it is called as “Sky Cave”), inside which has the temple of Tran Thi Dung, the wife of King Ly Hue Tong, who taught embroidery for Ninh Hai ward’s residents.
This enchanting beauty spot is a harmony combination between the majesty of caves and rugged mountains, the poetry of streams and rice fields, and the refined talent of people. All create a unified ensemble.
2. Sung Sot - Ha Long Bay - Quang Ninh province
Sung Sot means “amazing”. Travelers kayak in Halong bay usually drop in this cave. It is situated in Bo Hon island, and is one of the greatest caves in Halong.
When going into Sung Sot, people will find it small. But once worming a strait stone crevice, everyone also utter with full of admiration to its beauty: awesome, amazing. This is why it was named as “Sung Sot” (amazing). The road leading to the cave is a line of steep stone steps under jungle canopies. This makes travelers have both relish of mountain climbing and eagerness of feeling like walking to paradise.
The cave is divided into two main compartments, the first one looks like an immense theatre. The ceiling is covered by a “silky velvet carpet” layer with innumerous glistening stalactites that have diverse shapes such as fairy, elephant, sea-dog, horse, dinosaur, raspberry, flower, leaves, sword … Scenery inside likes an illusory dream. Stepping into the second compartment via a small path, then an effulgent light jet flows into and another different scene discloses, really cosmic.
The more going into, the more marvelous things unfold. There are some luxuriant ancient banyan trees. Reaching the peak of the cave, a royal garden appears before eyes, along with a pure lake. Charming scenery, all tree like ficus stricta, banyan, cycas revolute and many birds live together.
Found in 1921, the cave is located in the heart of a mountain, which belongs to Gun village, Trung Khanh District, Cao Bang Province of northern Vietnam. It is 5km from Ban Gioc waterfall. Nguom Ngao in Tay language means “Tiger cave” (ngườm: cave, ngao: tiger). According to an indigenous legend, formerly there were many tigers living on this cave. Other people believed that this name derived from stream sound inside the cave, which like tiger roar.
The interior temperature is from 18 to 25ºC. So the cave is warm in winter and cool in summer. Nguom Ngao is 2144 long, including 3 entrances: Ngườm Ngao, Ngườm Lồm (Wind Cave) and Ngườm Bản Thuôn. Scientists suppose this limestone cave was formed 300 million years ago.
Nguom Ngao has many karst stalactites and stalagmites with diverse shapes that create vivid, exciting and amazing scenes. It is divided many zones, comprising “Tứ trụ thiên đỉnh” (Four pillars prop the sky) with many stone columns like pillars propping the sky, the central zone with large space, the “treasure” zone with many stalactites sparkling gold and silver light… Due to its calcium mixing with impurities, stalactites of Nguom Ngao is different to that of other caves.
Three caves above are in northern Vietnam.
4. Thach Dong - Kien Giang Province
This is one of 10 beauty spots of Ha Tien town, Kien Giang province, southern Vietnam. The cave is a giant Permian limestone block remaining, which stands majestically on a sandstone hill of Devonian-Early Carbon, right in the road from Ha Tien to Cambodia. Thanks to the high entrance, the inner climate is always cool.
At an altitude of 50 m, the cave is also called as “Thạch Động Thôn Vân”, which means “the stone cave swallows cloud”. In early morning, clouds fly to the cave’s peak then being blocked. They stop and spread around the entrance’s cave that makes the cave like being swallow them.
Regarding from the south, Thach Dong looks like a general weaning fur hat so the French call it as ““Bonnet à Poil”.
The rocky road leading to Thach Dong is so adventurous. Climbing to the final stair, there will be a high and wide cave opening before eyes, with a lot of fancy-shaped limestone stalactites. The cave’s interior has an ancient wooden pagoda – Tien Son, which was constructed in 1790. Before having this pagoda, the cave had been the cloister of Huynh Phong monk.
Specially, Thach Dong has two famous crevices. One is deep abysmally and no bottom, which created the popular fairy story of Vietnam – "Thach Sanh slashed the giant demon boa". No one knows how much it deep. Several curious people went down this crevice but not came back. Subsequently, a person dropped down an inscribed dry coconut. The coconut after that was found on sea. So maybe the cave connects to the ocean. This crevice is called as “road to hell”. There is another crevice called as “road to heaven”, which leads to sky and like a skylight. But now, only “road to heaven” remains, because “road to hell” was filled up to assure safety.