For an alternative holiday, get set to explore some of Southeast Asia’s most amazing grottoes and hidden passageways. Pack sturdy walking shoes and a big sense of adventure.
The magnificent Kuha Karuhas royal pavilion in the Phraya Nakhon Cave
Phraya Nakhon Cave
Considered to be one of the most mystical, spiritual caves in Thailand, Phraya Nakhon Cave houses the magnificent Kuha Karuhas pavilion that was built at the end of the 19th century for the visit of King Chulalongkorn the Great (Rama V). The cave is located in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, about a 45-minute drive from Hua Hin, and the trip inside first requires a 30-minute hill climb through a lush forest, followed by a rocky track up steep, sometimes slippery steps. Your hard work will be rewarded with an awe-inspiring sight of stalactites, natural stone bridges and the said pavilion bathed in a pool of sunlight.
The Batu Caves are home to diverse animal communities that are millions of years old
One of the main caves at Batu Caves hill in Selangor, Malaysia, Dark Cave is home to diverse cave fauna as well as animal communities that are over 100 million years old, including the trapdoor spider — the rarest spider in the world. Thrill seekers should sign up for the Adventure Tour on the weekends. It introduces you the wilder sections of the cave, with opportunities to climb, slide and embark on their much talked about cave crawl. Expect magnificent nature-formed cave formations, including stalactite, cave curtains and gout pools.
Sung Sot Cave in Ha Long Bay translates directly to Surprise Cave in English
Sung Sot Cave
Situated in the centre of Vietnam’s Halong Bay, Sung Sot Cave, also known as Surprise Cave is one of the bay’s most spectacular grottoes. Accessible only by a steep ascent of stone steps, the 10,000 sqm cave is partitioned into two chambers. The first sees stalactites hanging from the ceiling, with walls so smooth you might mistake them to be built by humans. The inner chamber features a large natural skylight that reflects light from the moving water outside, making the formations seemingly come alive. It is rumoured that the cave was named after the visitors’ reactions of surprise to its beauty.
The largest cave in the world is Vietnam's Son Doong Cave
Son Doong Cave
Vietnam’s Son Doong Cave is the largest in the world. Not only can it fit a flying Boeing 747 through its largest cavern and a 40-storey skyscraper within its walls, the cave also comes with its own jungle! Adventurous visitors will get to experience a whole ecosystem, from spotting monkeys and flying foxes to waterfalls, rare fauna and even a river. Currently, expeditions are run only by government-approved company Oxalis Adventure Tours, and the 5D4N journey is recommended only for the very fit — your entry to the cave, for example, already requires that you rappel down a 80-metre descent