Phong Nha-Ke Bang in Quang Binh Province is recognized by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as World Natural Heritage Site and considered by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as possessing a widely diverse ecosystem. This more-than-85,000ha park is one of the two largest limestone deserts in the world with more than 300 caves.
Visitors are familiar with the two gorgeous caves of Phong Nha and Tien Son, which number among the 150 caves that Vietnamese agencies and the British Cave Research Association (BCRA) have surveyed over the past 15 years.
In 2005, Ho Khanh, a well-known Vietnamese cave explorer led the way for BCRA scientists to 17 new caves he had discovered in the mountain of Doong in the Truong Son mountain range.
One of the caves he discovered became known as Paradise Cave. The route there zigzags. Visitors must first pass more than 70km from the city of Dong Hoi in Quang Binh Province to Bo Trach District, then they must go to the town of Son Trach by the east branch of the Ho Chi Minh Highway, cross the river of Trooc, turn left and take the reverse west branch of the Ho Chi Minh Highway until the 16-km landmark, and finally cross a wide rugged jungle with rugged rocks and waterfalls to the mountain range of U Bo where the Truong Thinh Group are busy building service and trading facilities to exploit the nearby Paradise Cave.
While the Phong Nha Cave can be access by boats via an underground river in the cave, the Paradise Cave is located on a cliff and visitors must walk up 500 hundred-year-old stone steps before getting to the mouth of the cave. However, visitors will be shadowed by green foliage with lots of wildflowers and can enjoy watching flocks of white butterflies accompanying them on the roads to the cave.
The mouth of Paradise Cave is very narrow, just enough for two thin visitors to enter at a time. However, it is spectacular immense inside with nature-designed and colored 400-year-old stalactites, stunning any visitors. In particular, the cave includes several admirable grottos that led a visitor to say it that it was hard to define Paradise Cave as either magnificent cathedral or a mysterious labyrinth.Along the wooden staircases in the cave, visitors will find stalagmites and stalactites that resemble the sun, with pillars that show glittering phosphor, overlapping giant lotuses, the ghost ships of forgotten centuries, or magnificent and shining castles for kings and queens. The cave is spotlighted in white light so as to preserve the original colors of the stalactites, providing visitors a pure view of the cave. The temperature in the cave remains at a steady 20-21 degree Celsius.
According to coordinated surveys, the Paradise Cave has been so far considered the world's longest limestone cave, with a length of about 31km. However, the Truong Thinh Group has just explored only 1.5km of the cave, with the first 1km designed with wooden stairs for visitors to discover at prices of VND120,000 for adults and VND60,000 for children. In fact, many locals and tourist groups have ventured to explore up to 7km in the cave and detected several underground streams under the stalagmite floor, skylights with sublime natural light shining onto the stone blocks to create stunning colors, and lakes shaped by large flat slabs of stalagmites. To be able to witness more items in the cave, visitors must conquer a difficult stretch of rocky road in the cave sometimes cut across by suddenly rushing streams.
According to world cave experts, the Paradise Cave is a young tectonic limestone cave as it is still emulsifying stalagmites and stalactites year on year, unlike the majority of national limestone caves (caves in Ha Long Bay, for example) that have completed the process of emulsification, with dry stalagmites and stalactites. This fact is exciting explorers and visitors who wish to explore Paradise Cave although they have been warned that the deeper the cave is the more fractured limestone bedrocks, holes, and dangerous landslides they may encounter. Nevertheless, the cave will be gradually opened up to meet growing tourism demand.