By taking you to the largest cave in the world, Son Doong Photography Tour 5D4N promises to bring you the most special experience. Indeed, this unique photo tour will save extended days for your photoshoots in both daytime and nighttime.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park bestows on humans an epic ecosystem of caves, jungles, valleys, rivers, and more. Our tour opens for you an opportunity to engage in the best of it all, the Son Doong Cave. You not only sightsee but also take photos of its magnificent formations, large underground rivers, heavenly skylights, and so on.
To make this 5-day photography tour feasible, we set up a top-class local guide team to carry special high-powered LED lighting and other equipment, such as a generator for charging. Also, they can act as models for your shots in this huge stunning new wonder of the world. In brief, our team does not hesitate to give you any necessary support.
By the way, we would like to recommend some more Phong Nha tours that might have your interest:
- Phong Nha Jungle Trek Adventure Wildlife 2D1N – 167 USD/person
- Hang Pygmy Exploration 2D1N – 336 USD/person
- Hung Thoong Exploration 3 Days 2 Nights – 345 USD/person
- Tiger Cave Series Adventure 3 Days 2 Nights – 532 USD/person
- Kong Collapse Top Adventure 5 Days 4 Nights – 1522 USD/person
SON DOONG PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR 5D4N
- Operating time: from February to August (closed from September to January)
- Duration: 5 days/4 nights (plus 1 night before and 1 night after at a local homestay)
- Adventure level: difficult, suitable for physically active travelers (over 50 kilometers)
- Availability: 25 February and 9 April 2016
- Group size: 1 – 10 pax
- Minimum age: 18 years old (with sufficient fitness requirements)
- Please make sure that your health is suitable for these activities with ease:
- 50-kilometer jungle and mountain trekking
- Elevation changes up to 400 meters (between roads and valleys)
- Surface river crossing: 40 times (knee-deep, 10 to 50-meter-wide river)
- 10-kilometer caving including rope climbs, rocky terrain, and scrambling
- 80-meter descent with rope and harnesses
- Underground river crossings with strong currents
- 5 days and 4 nights in caves
- Regular running, trekking, caving, rock climbing, or other outdoor pursuits (at least once per month)
- Strong legs and good balance
- Previous multi-day treks
- General good health and fitness
What To Expect?
Phong Nha Private Car offers a special tour for tourists who would like to explore the Son Doong Cave. Besides, there is modern equipment for you to take lots of wonderful photos. Our British technical advisor will be there to offer you viewpoints very few people have seen, let alone photographed.
With our powerful 32,000 lumens LED lighting, we can light up many parts of the cave previously unseen. As the tour itself is demanding with the extended days, it will be a challenge for many people. However, the rewards for both amateur and professional photographers alike are great.
This tour is intended for those who are already serious about photography. In brief, you take responsibility for your photoshoots as we do not provide any photography lessons on this tour. It is expected that anyone who joins this tour already has extensive knowledge of photography, including the use of all their equipment.
Our guide team will be able to help set up shots, but they are not responsible for capturing the actual shots. We do not provide a professional photographer on the tour nor are professional photographs supplied following the tour.
- We do not permit drones under any circumstance.
- Customers are expected to make it to the Son Doong entrance without assistance. Anyone who cannot do so will be turned around.
- Also, any customers who cannot follow safety, conservation, or trekking rules will be turned around. So does anyone who refuses to follow the instructions of the guide team.
- Customers who turn around will not receive a refund of any kind.
Dong Hoi – Safety Briefing – Local Hotel In Phong Nha
- 14:00: Arrive in Dong Hoi (latest at 14:00) on the afternoon of your briefing day. Then, you will meet a member of our team and get a car ride to either our hotel or Ho Khanh’s Homestay.
- Then, you have the rest of the day to relax and wander around the village of Phong Nha. You have to purchase your own breakfast and lunch on this day.
- Before the briefing, if there is a beautiful sunset, you are welcome to the roof of our Headquarters. Here, you’ll have a panoramic view of Phong Nha Village and the Son River. If you’d like to set up a time-lapse of the sun setting and stars rising, you are welcome to do so.
- 17:30-18:00: You will congregate in the hotel restaurant before transferring to our Headquarters. Here, you’ll meet your technical advisor and guide team. They show you a safety briefing and equipment check. You will also sign a Release Form before we finish the safety briefing.
The safety briefing is compulsory. Anyone who does not join the briefing may be eliminated from the tour without a refund.
Please prepare all belongings you’ll be taking on the trek before the safety briefing and get them ready to bring to us. Right after the briefing, we will collect everyone’s belongings in individually labeled large plastic bags and send them to our porters to prepare for the following day.
You will receive your belongings each evening once you get to your campsite. Therefore, anything you want to take with you during the day (e.g. cameras, tripods, etc.) should be kept in a separate backpack.
- After the briefing, we will give you gear for the upcoming trip. First, you will have a helmet which you will take responsibility for during the tour. (Please do not put any GoPro mounts directly onto our helmets.) Then, you receive a head strap, chest strap, or alternate means.
- 19:30: You enjoy dinner with your team at the hotel restaurant. After that, we transfer you back to your hotel for a good night’s sleep.
Day 1: Phong Nha – Ban Doong Village – Hang En Cave
In the morning
- 08:00: You enjoy a hearty breakfast before the big day. Then, you’ll leave extra luggage and any valuables at the Headquarters before picking up the porter team. Now, your Son Doong Photography Tour 5D4N starts.
- 09:00: Set off for the expedition by a 25-minute drive along Road 20 of the Ho Chi Minh Highway to the Tra Ang Bridge. Here, you can zoom out on the national park and the river running below this bridge. During that, your tour guide will explain the historical importance of this area.
- From that, it takes about 25 more minutes through the national park to reach the trailhead. Here, you’ll start a quite steep trek downhill for approximately 1 hour through the forest.
- Then, you walk for half an hour along a small stream to the minority village of Ban Doong, the real highlight for many on the Son Doong Photography Tour 5D4N.
- You can learn more about this unique ethnic group of people and enjoy lunch beside a small river. Photography is allowed in the Doong Village. Yet, you should be courteous to the villagers and respect their privacy.
In the afternoon
- 12:30: After Ban Doong, you will do a 2-hour trek along a river under the sun, with very little shade. During this trek, you’ll cross the river many times, so it’s expected to make your feet wet for the whole day.
In the summer, the water is only knee-deep. Yet, Gore-Tex boots will be filled with and hold water, so they are not recommended.
- 14:30: After 2 hours of trekking, you’ll reach the entrance to Hang En Cave, home to thousands of swifts. Here, you’ll use your headlight and go for a short trek of about 20-30 minutes until you reach the campsite inside the cave.
- 15:00: Upon arrival at camp, you can enjoy swimming and washing in the underground river. Then, you set up your camps and start your first overnight camping.
- Photography from high-level viewpoints is a highlight of this day. We will serve dinner at the spectacular campsite with numerous photographic opportunities, followed by nighttime photography of the campsite.
- If there is a clear sky, you may be able to capture some unique shots looking out of the “second entrance” into the night sky. On the rarest of nights, a full moon can also be viewed from camp through this entrance.
Anyone unable to complete any stage of this first day comfortably will be turned around to Phong Nha and not permitted to continue the expedition. The guide team will consider and make this decision. Should you be turned around, all tour costs will be forfeited.
Day 2: Hang En Cave – Son Doong Entrance – Hand of Dog – SD Camp 1
In the morning
- 08:00: You begin your day with a delicious breakfast, which is very important for the upcoming tough day.
In February, there is a good chance of epic sunbeams shining through the cave in the early morning. If so, your tour guide will take you to a high overlook next to the camp. There, you’ll be able to set up your camera and capture the brilliance of these sunbeams. A member of the porter team can also stand below to give an idea of the scale in the photos.
- 09:00-10:00: You start your trek through Hang En Cave around 9 or 10 o’clock, depending on how long you spend on sunbeam photography. As you continue, there’s a huge dark passage in the cave, which can be lit up for those interested in photography here.
- 09:30-10:30: After 30 minutes of leaving camp, the team will journey to a magnificent exit again as you make your way to Son Doong Cave Vietnam. This site has been made famous by many photographers over the past few years.
- 10:30-11:30: From there, you’ll scramble down to the river valley and walk for 1 hour through the river. Thus, it’s unavoidable that your boots get wet for most of the day, but it’s part of the fun.
- 12:15: Then, you’ll start climbing a steep hill for about 45 minutes with some rocky sections to start. At the top of the hill, you’ll enjoy lunch.
In the afternoon
- After lunch, you prepare for the next big journey underground by going through the safety briefing and fitting your safety harness.
- Then, your team does an 80-meter steep descent with a couple of short rope climbs, leading you to the Son Doong Cave entrance.
Several locations on this day will be devoted to serious photography, such as the entrance climb and river crossings.
Use ropes and safety lines with your guide’s assistance. There is no rappelling or abseiling at any point during the expedition.
- Later on, you’ll enjoy a few more climbs and bouldering to reach the first and second river crossings inside Son Doong Cave. You should wash here, as it will be the last washing place for the day.
The water at this point is no more than knee-to-thigh deep, depending on the water levels of the day you come.
- On the way to the campsite at the cave’s first large passage, you’ll have to be extra careful as there are some big drops. Then, you will scramble over boulders along a rocky path before reaching one of the most spectacular views: Hand of Dog.
- At this point, we will set up lighting within the Hope and Vision passage for photography. You will also see the views of your first campsite in Hang Son Doong Cave. (We will have another camping inside Son Doong later on.) As the views here are truly amazing, you can capture as many unique images as you want.
- Then, you will scramble down to the first campsite of Son Doong. After all, you have the afternoon to soak up the views and rest your weary bodies.
- Then, you’re in for another big meal with your team before setting up for nighttime shots of camps.
- After all, the second day of Son Doong Photography Tour 5D4N finishes with a nice sleep.
Please note that there are no washing facilities at camp on this day.
Day 3: SD Camp 1 – Watch Out For Dinosaurs – Great Wall Of Vietnam – SD Camp 2
In the morning
- 08:00: As usual, your day begins with a hearty breakfast with your team.
- 09:00: You head to your second campsite in Son Doong Cave: A big day for photography.
- 09:00-10:30: You’ll start with some rocky climbs, which are quite steep in some places. After 1.5 hours, you’ll reach the first jungle within the cave at Watch Out For Dinosaurs, a really special spot to stop for some truly breathtaking photos.
- Later on, you’ll be trotting down the rocky path to reach the enormous Green Gours. This is one of the most magnificent and famous photography spots on the tour. If you are lucky, you may even catch some sunbeams. The Green Gours is a highly recommended spot for time-lapse photography.
- A light lunch is provided with an incredible backdrop of the first doline.
In the afternoon
- Then, your team hikes through the cave, passing by gigantic formations and plenty of cave pearls towards the light of the second doline, where the main jungle within the cave is located.
- After following the path past the beautiful foliage toward the light, you reach an other-worldly underground jungle. You will cross the jungle for around 45 minutes before reaching the steep, slippery path down to your second campsite within Son Doong Cave.
- Finally, you arrive at the camp later in the afternoon and enjoy dinner.
In the evening
- After dinner, your trip to another majestic place inside Son Doong Cave starts. From the camp, you head deeper into the cave toward the Great Wall of Vietnam.
- First, you’ll pass through a very large dry passage with huge stalagmites and great views back to the second doline.
- Many new invertebrates have been discovered within this passage, including white spiders, fish, woodlouse, and shrimp species. So, make sure to keep your eyes open, especially if you’re interested in macro photography.
- Later, you will reach a very large beautiful underground lake, where you’ll then paddle to reach the Great Wall of Vietnam). Or, you will find a fantastically adventurous muddy pit, where you will trudge your way through for a few hundred meters to reach the wall.
If you find the latter, going further to reach the actual wall or not is up to you. As you will get very dirty in the mud and there are no bathing facilities on this day at camp, you should consider this carefully. If you decide to take the plunge, we recommend packing plenty of wet wipes.
- We can use big powerful lights to light up the passage to the wall, known as Passchendaele so that you can photograph the high cliffs.
- After all, you’ll be back at camp again to enjoy a sensational dinner with your team and cheer up with games and entertainment. Or, you can simply relax and soak up the breathtaking views.
- Nighttime photography, especially time-lapse photography, is another highlight of this site. If you are lucky, you can catch stars through the doline.
You may use a pair of dry boots on this day as there are no water crossings, but only mud. Also, there are no washing facilities at camp on this day.
Day 4: SD Camp 2 – Fossil Passage – Nat Geo View Point – Hang En Cave
In the morning
- 08:00: After refueling with another hot breakfast, you’ll pack up the camps and start heading back to the first doline.
- You’ll overcome a slightly different route through a small oxbow passage above the underground river. This passage has a very steep drop, so you still need your rope and safety line. This is another astonishing sight as you can also look down into the first doline. We can help you set up an awesome shot here.
- 11:00: Once you reach the first campsite, you’ll have time for a short break before climbing down to the ancient fossil passage. Here, you will witness 350 million-year-old coral fossils. Here, you can capture macro photography of the fossils and the passage overview.
- Then, you enjoy a small wash at some pools and have a hearty lunch.
In the afternoon
- Later on, your team starts descending back to the main passage. First, you cross the river twice and proceed to climb up to the entrance. Again, during the climb, you need to put on your harness and safety lines.
- There will be opportunities to photograph the National Geo viewpoint. Plus, we can arrange large passage shots for people interested in capturing those on the way back out.
- 16:00: Your group will appear at the entrance of Son Doong and enjoy a small break with some snacks. Then, you head back towards the river valley, where you can enjoy a well-deserved and refreshing wash.
- After that, your team will walk along the river back to Hang En Cave – the last campsite on your Son Doong Photography Tour 5D4N.
- At the Hang En exit, you can get final photography of the magnificent views in the evening light. Then, you enjoy a dinner and a celebration with the porter team at this underground campsite.
- If it’s a clear night, you’ll have a second opportunity for nighttime shots. Also, as this is the final campsite, you should save some shots of camp, the porter team, the chefs, and anything memorable on this journey.
Day 5: Hang En Cave – Ban Doong Village – Phong Nha
In the morning
- 08:00: You wake up early and start a 10-kilometer trek back to Road 20 after breakfast.
- You’ll follow the river along the valley and back through Ban Doong Village. Along the way, you can enjoy snacks and fruit.
- Then, you start on a quite difficult climb up the mountain for the last hour of your big adventure. On arrival at the top of the hill, cold drinks await you as a trip accomplishment celebration.
In the afternoon
- Later on, you will have a 45-minute drive back to Chay Lap Farmstay, where you will spend a relaxing night after the trip. Here, cool towels and a refreshing swimming pool are waiting for you.
- Then, you will enjoy a group farewell dinner with your fellow expedition team members. Now you can finally relax after the 5-day long trek.
Please inform our sales team in advance of your departure time so that they can arrange the logistics of your transfer back to the airport or train station.
If you would like to extend your holiday in Phong Nha (which we highly recommend), let our team know so that we can assist you in booking extra nights at Chay Lap Farmstay.
- Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and our driver will pick you up according to your departure time.
- When our driver drops you off in Phong Nha, our Son Doong Photography Tour 5D4N officially ends.
Please note that you have to check out at the hotel at 12:00, regardless of your departure time.
Again, please let us know in advance if you would like any additional night(s) at the hotel so that we can secure that for you.