What To Prepare For The Son Doong Expedition

The length of the Son Doong Expedition is 4 days and 3 nights entirely in the jungle and caves. People who haven’t any experience of camping and sleeping in tents may encounter some problems without good preparation. This article will list the necessary items and equipment provided on tours of Son Doong Expedition and also clearly answer the question “What should guests prepare for the Son Doong Expedition tour?” in order to support you to have a comfortable and meaningful expedition.

Equipment on the Son Doong Expedition tour provided by Oxalis

  • Filming lights to support photography in the cave: Oxalis will provide 3 high-powered LED lights (43,000 lumens) to assist guests in taking photos inside the cave. These are very bright rechargeable lights, capable of illuminating the large passages of Son Doong Cave. The lights will be operated by the safety team, to enable you to take the best photographs. The lights will only be on for a short time, to minimise the impact on life inside the cave.
  • Headlight: Oxalis will provide a special headlight (manufactured by Hope Technology - UK) with a brightness of 1500 lumens and several backup batteries, each battery can be used for about 6 hours or more, depending on the level of light used.
  • Safety equipment: Helmets, safety harnesses, gloves, safety devices such auto-locking devices (gri-gri) used during climbing down the cave entrance and up the Great Wall of Vietnam (operated by the cave expert and safety assistants).
  • Camping equipment: Oxalis will provide tents (single or double based on request). Inside these tents will be a sleeping bag, 2 layers of mattresses with a cover and pillow for each person.
  • Drinking water: Guests are provided with a 1L water bottle before departure if required. Please fill this at your hotel before departure. There will be a water filter carried by the safety assistant team to provide more water along the way. At the campsites, there is always a specialised WATTS filter system (imported from the US) to provide water for cooking and drinking as well as brushing teeth
  • First aid kit: The tour guide will carry a comprehensive first aid kit. This is for any emergencies occurring on the tour. Any medicines, plasters, bandages that you need for any existing injuries or conditions should be provided by yourself.
  • Satellite phone: The tour guide will carry a satellite phone during the expedition to contact the operations team in case of an emergency. To use the satellite phone, the staff needs to move outside the cave for a signal. This device is used by Oxalis Safety Expert and Tour Guide only.

What should guests prepare for the Son Doong Expedition? (Required)

Preparing for Son Doong Expedition Tour: Guests are advised to bring lightweight portable items which can be easily packed in the dry bag provided. Necessary items for Son Doong experience: Trekking clothes, camping clothes, trekking shoes, camp shoes, trekking socks, basic toiletries, necessary items such as medication, backpack.

  • Trekking clothes (clothes for the Son Doong expedition): 2-3 sets of long-sleeved shirts and long pants, which are light, quick-drying, stretchy and not too thin for 4 days trekking.
  • Camping clothes: 1-2 sets of shorts and t-shirts to wear at the campsite. It is recommended to bring long-sleeved t-shirts, long trousers, a thin jacket and a light sweater to wear in the cold months (January to March).
  • Trekking shoes: The shoes play a very important role in the safety of the trip. Guests are required to prepare a pair of trekking shoes (with rugged soles), designed for rough mountain terrain. Footwear for the Son Doong Expedition should drain easily rather than be waterproof (Gore Tex) because the trekking trail will consist of multiple river crossing, both inside and outside the cave. They must cover the entire foot for protection against rocks and sharp objects, to prevent insect bites as well as provide support.
  • Trekking socks: Prepare 4-5 pairs of socks (at least mid calf height), closely woven to wear during the trip to prevent insect bites or other types of poison ivy.
  • Personal items: Each guest going to Son Doong needs to prepare items such as: a sun hat, a pair of sandals (to wear at the campsite), a medium sized towel (thin), toiletries (wet tissue, dry shampoo, toothpaste...), camping headlight, 1.5L water bottle (if you do not want to use Oxalis’ items). Underwear. Personal items for women when going to Son Doong such as: feminine hygienic products, sanitary napkins / tampons / menstrual cups (please bring even just in case).
  • Necessary items: rehydration electrolyte tablets, personal medicines, insect spray, sunscreen, sunglasses, foot powder (a foot-drying powder, used after arriving at the campsite and swimming) and other personal items.
  • Backpack: Guests going to Son Doong should prepare a medium sized backpack of 20-30 litres to carry a helmet, caving light, water bottles, phones and personal items for use along the way. Note that helmets and caving lights are required to be carried inside the backpack. This should be a trekking backpack, not a fashion backpack.

Important Note:

  • Guest's signed luggage: any luggage not required during the Expedition will be left at the hotel and returned when checking into the hotel after the trip. Items for use at the campsite (Example: clothes, toiletries, book, minigame…) will be packed into a personal dry bag (with Oxalis packing list attached) provided by Oxalis (not more than 7kg per Guest) and carried daily by the porters, Guests will only receive this bag at the campsite. In a small town like Phong Nha, there are not many trekking shops available. Therefore, you should prepare everything you need for the Son Doong Expedition before coming to Phong Nha.
  • Oxalis does not allow guests to bring dresses, Ao Dai (Vietnamese traditional dress), bikini or other clothes that are not suitable for this type of adventure tour.

Recommended but not required items

  • Waterproof bag in case of rain (to store camera, phone, electronic devices, clothes or other personal items).
  • Tripod: If you are a photographer and want to take nice photos in the cave, bring a lightweight and portable tripod.
  • Backup battery for phone and camera, ear-plugs (if you have trouble sleeping)
  • Gloves: Oxalis provides new stretchy gloves but only one size. If you have small hands or prefer to use your own, please bring them with you.
  • Swimwear (only for use at Hang En campsite).
  • A headband/sweatband, used to stop sweat from rolling into the eyes. Sometimes it helps with the comfort of the helmet.

*Oxalis has suitable trekking clothes for sale, if you haven’t prepared for the Son Doong Expedition yet, visit us directly at Oxalis Phong Nha Office or order online at Oxalis Gear Shop.

Hopefully, with the equipment listed in this article, you will have the best gear preparation for the Son Doong Expedition. If you have any other questions, please contact the tour consultant for assistance. Wishing you a great experience with Oxalis Adventure.

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