Sunday, July 21, 2024

The top 20 must-see caves in Asia

Unless you’re a dedicated speleologist, you might believe caves to be prehistoric; places where our forefathers sought refuge and which we now only visit to observe rudimentary cave drawings and spectacular stalactites. However, Asia’s fascination with caves is far from over.

Many of the region’s historic cave temples are still active religious places, and its sophisticated underground networks protected thousands of people from war during the twentieth century. Scientists are constantly uncovering some of the world’s geological records. A lot of them are also available to the public, so we’ve compiled a list of the top 20 to visit.

1. Pak Ou Caves

Pak Ou is a famous, well-known destination, and while it is not very ‘spectacular,’ its hundreds of dusty miniature Buddha figurines – left by pilgrims over many centuries – are a lot of fun to explore by torchlight in the shallow riverbank caverns. Pak Ou is accessible by road, but a 1.5 to 2-hour boat ride along the Mekong is far more delightful, with longboats departing Luang Prabang throughout the morning, beginning at 8.30 a.m.

2. Dambulla Cave Temple

This region, which stretches north from Kandy in central Sri Lanka, is worth seeing merely because it is tightly packed with outstanding cultural and historic attractions, notably five of the island’s seven UNESCO World Heritage sites. The caverns of Dambulla are fascinating for a variety of reasons, the most prominent of which is a massive golden Buddha statue and a flashy contemporary temple that stand between you and the majestic temple rock that towers over the landscape.

3. Mulu Caves

Gunung Mulu National Park in Malaysian Borneo is a UNESCO World Heritage site that preserves slightly over 200 square miles of tropical rainforest, hundreds of species, and many indigenous groups. The world’s largest underground chamber sits well beneath the jagged limestone spires and lush mulch, only one cavern in a network of caverns, tunnels, and subterranean rivers that stretches for hundreds of kilometers underneath the forest.

4. Tham Chiang Dao

This ancient Thailand cave is located in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by over 100 shrines and temples that stretch for ten kilometers into the mountain range. These caverns are also a must-see destination for adventurers who want to explore the cave by hiking along the rocky limestone pathways.

5. Phi Hua To Cave

This historic site, often known as the “big-headed Ghost cave,” is one of Krabi’s most well-known caverns. These limestone caverns, which are near to the Than Bok Khorani National Park, are bordered by Mangrove trees and have ancient artwork on the inside.

6. Phnom Chngouk Temple cave

On Cambodia’s lovely southern coast, approximately 5 miles east of Kampot, sits this magnificent holy cave. The cave entrance is reached through a couple of hundred stairs, so this is not for the faint of heart or those with shaky knees.

7. Phong Nha Cavern

Phong Nha is one of the most visually magnificent, massive, and buried behind a lovely UNESCO-protected terrain on our list. Much of Phong Nha is perilous and off-limits to the public, with multiple grottoes and an underground river, although the first mile is accessible, part of it even by boat.

8. Vieng Xai Caves

A huge honeycomb of limestone caverns sits close to the Laos side of the Vietnam border, roughly level with Mai Chau on the map. Although not the most beautiful of the caves on our list, the Vieng Xai complex is noteworthy for sheltering 20,000 people through nine years of near-constant bombardment by the United States as it attempted to defeat Asian Communism in the 1960s.

9. Pindaya Caves

This religious monument, which consists of a labyrinth of creepy limestone tunnels stuffed to the brim with at least 8,000 Buddha pictures and sculptures, is said to date back to the 1750s. The Buddhas reflect a vast array of craftsmanship and styles from all around Myanmar, having been presented by both wealthy and impoverished pilgrims over the previous 250 years.

10. Hang Son Doong

Hang Son Doong, the world’s longest cave, is situated in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. Because the journey into this three-million-year-old cave is difficult, camping within the cave is widespread. Apart from its sheer vastness, this cave is notable for the woods and microclimate it contains.

11. Puerto Princesa Underground River

The Underground River of Puerto Princesa flows beneath the St. Paul Mountain Ridge on the island of Palawan. Unique animals, like spiders, fish, and crabs, have adapted to life in this deep, gloomy tunnel, which runs over 8 kilometers and empties into the sea. The Underground River, one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature and a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a must-see for anybody visiting the Philippines.

12. Ryusendo Cave

The Rosendo Cave, one of Japan’s Three Great Limestone Caves, is almost 5,000 meters long and is one of the country’s national natural monuments. Ryusendo Cave tours are only half an hour long and include a tour of the brilliant turquoise subterranean lakes. Discover ancient stalagmites and stalactites, as well as various bat species, including the endangered long-eared bat.

13. Engelbrecht Cave

The Engelbrecht Cave, situated in Mount Gambier, South Australia, is a perfect place for brave divers looking for an underground experience. There are two entryways to this sinkhole, which is classified as a sinkhole. To dive here, you’ll require either the CDAA Cave grade or the CDAA Advanced Cave grade. Even if you don’t have the proper certification, you may still walk inside this beautiful limestone cave.

14. Jomblang Cave

Visit Jomblang Cave, which was just discovered in 1984, if you want to put in a bit more effort into your cave-hunting adventure. Jomblang Cave is a 40-kilometer trip from Yogyakarta on primarily muddy roads, where you must descend the cave using a single rope approach. From 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., however, you’ll be treated to a stunning natural light show. Bring your camera!

15. Waitomo Caves

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves, which can be explored from the comfort of a boat, are a wonderfully amazing experience for people of all ages. Sit back and marvel at the sight of hundreds of tiny glowworms illuminating the caverns’ otherwise pitch-black interiors.

16. Tham Khoun Xe

The Tham Khoun Xe cave, carved out by the Xe Bang Fai river, is one of the world’s biggest sustained river tunnels. The cave, which stretches for 7 kilometers beneath the karst mountains of Hin Nam No, is only passable for 2 kilometers by boat. Climb the limestone structures to add to the cave’s spooky atmosphere. Travelers may also visit Tham Bing Cave, which is nearby, in addition to Tham Khoun Xe. If you’re planning a trip between June and October, keep in mind that the rapids will be greater.

17. Orda Cave 

Orda Cave is a marine cave studded with gypsum deposits that are located below sea level. Underwater caving is a great way to learn about the life that exists under the surface. This cave near Orda Village is the world’s longest (5km) gypsum cave, with one opening on the Kungur River’s coast. Because the gypsum formations in this cave are very soluble in water, they are constantly changing. As a result, one visit to this location is never enough.

18. Kungurskaya Ledyanaya Peshchera

The spectacular display of accumulated stalactites and stalagmites may be seen in Russia’s Ural Mountains, on the banks of the Sylvian River. To escape into a frozen paradise, visit the 50 grottoes with 70 lakes and crystal ceilings. The combined length of these ice caverns is 5700 meters, making them a formidable task for any caver.

19. Sung Sot Cave

Halong Bay is a beautiful seascape known for its green waters and impressive limestone cliffs and islets. Plus, there’s more. It also has several natural wonders, such as Sung Sot Cave. On Bo Hon Island, take in the raw beauty of Sung Sot Cave and be amazed by its wonderfully smooth walls, which appear to have been chiseled by man. If you get deep enough into the chamber, you’ll find a ‘royal garden’ with a clean pond and stunning scenery of miniature mountains.

20. Sarawak Chamber

Sarawak Chamber is the world’s largest cave chamber, therefore it’s no surprise that it’s a popular tourist site. This subterranean cavern is so large that it’s been said to fit multiple Boeing 747 planes within. It’s also part of Gua Nasib Bagus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site nestled within Gunung Mulu National Park. Sarawak Chamber is not for the faint of heart; expect a long climb up the river, some swimming, and even traveling over a steep rock slope.

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