Explorers and nature-lovers will naturally be drawn to caves. There’s something utterly mysterious and daunting about them at the same time. Crawling through long tunnels or sinking deep into the Earth, cave exploration brings out the epitome of adventure. From glowworm havens to 8-kilometre rivers flowing beneath mountains in the Philippines, we’ve compiled a list of the seven most spectacular caves in the region around Singapore. C’mon Indy, let’s get in there.

Cave You Believe It?

1. Hang Son Doong

Hang Son Doong, Vietnam Photo: CC BY-SA 2.0 / vtoanstar

Where is it? Quang Binh, Vietnam

Why visit?

Located in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is the world’s longest cave, Hang Son Doong. Journeys into this three-million-year-old cave are gruelling, making campsites within the cave a common site. What’s unique about this cave, apart from its sheer size, is the forests and micro-climate located within.

Where to stay?

The Nguyen Shack Phong Nha Hostel is a no-frills yet clean place to lay your head down if you don’t mind sharing rooms and toilets. If you’re looking for something a little plush, consider Gold Coast Hotel Resort and Spa, a 3.5-star hotel that comes with world-class amenities such as a large pool that overlooks the ocean.

2. Mulu Caves

Mulu Caves, Gunung Mulu National Park, Borneo, Malaysia Photo: CC BY-ND 2.0 / Stephane Enten

Where is it? Gunung Mulu National Park, Borneo, Malaysia

Why visit?

Borneo’s Mulu Heritage Area abounds with scenic nature trails, waterfalls and several ancient caves. If you dare, visit the Deer Cave, which is where three million Wrinkle Lipped bats call home. The voyages to the cave are only led by the World Heritage Park Guides twice a day, so make sure to arrive on time. For a closer look at the bats, trek further to Langs Cave that is smaller, but it’s where you’ll find little white cave prawns and dangling worm larvae.

Where to stay? 

Only five minutes away from the Gunung Mulu National Park is Mulu Marriott Resort. Dip into the lap of luxury at this well-appointed and highly-rated hotel as offered here is a Balinese spa, gorgeous pool and glorious views of the Melinau River.

Check out our editor’s experience in Mulu and Mulu Marriot here.

3. Waitomo Caves

Waitomo caves, New Zealand Photo: CC BY 2.0 / Madeleine Deaton

Where is it?

Otorohanga, New Zealand

Why visit?

A truly magical experience for people of all age groups is the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, which can be accessed from the comfort of a boat. Sit back and take in the incredible sight of thousands of tiny glowworms lighting up the otherwise pitch-black caves with luminescent light.

Where to stay?

For a cosy Kiwi bed and breakfast experience, book one of the four rooms at Waitomo Orchard Estate B&B. This rest stop looks and feels just like home with welcoming country-style interiors, and a hearty breakfast served piping hot each morning.

4. Jomblang Cave

Jomblang Cave, Indonesia Photo: CC BY-SA 2.0 / Cesar Gonzalez Palomo

Where is it? Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Why visit?

If you care to put in a little more effort into your cave-hunting experience, visit Jomblang Cave, which was found only in 1984. A 40-kilometre drive from Yogyakarta on mostly unpaved roads will get you to Jomblang Cave, where you’ll have to rappel down the cave using a single-rope technique. Once you’re inside, however, you’ll be treated to a spectacular natural light show from 10am-1pm. You’ll want to make sure to bring your camera for this one!

Where to stay?

The Phoenix Yogyakarta Mgallery by Sofitel has rooms that are elegant, and it contains tons of entertainment to keep you on-site for the duration of your stays – such as tempting restaurants, rafting, and even horse riding. For a Yogyakarta city experience, book a room at Ibis Yogyakarta Malioboro, a simple hotel with all the necessary comforts such as a gym, swimming pool, restaurant and bar.

5. Engelbrecht Cave

Engelbrecht Cave Photo: CC BY-SA 4.0 / Thom Devereux

Where is it? Mount Gambier, Australia

Why visit?

Located in South Australia’s Mount Gambier, the Engelbrecht Cave is an ideal location for daring divers in search of an underground adventure. Classified as a sinkhole, there are two entryways here for diving, but you’ll need either the CDAA Cave grade or the CDAA Advanced Cave grade to dive here. If you don’t have the adequate certification, you can still explore this breathtaking limestone cave by foot.

Where to stay?

Located near to the town’s shopping and restaurants is motel, Commodore on the Park, which provides a quiet and clean place to stay with great service. Another option is the suite-only hotel, Park Hotel where the rooms are spacious with some appointed with their very own open gas fireplace.

6. Ryusendo Cave

Ryusendo CavePhoto: CC BY 2.0 / yisris

Where is it? Iwaizumi, Iwate Prefecture, Japan

Why visit?

Over 5,000 meters in length is the Rosendo Cave, one of Japan’s national natural monuments and one of the country’s Three Great Limestone Caves. Tours of Ryusendo Cave take no longer than half an hour and include a viewing of the clear turquoise underground lakes. Spot ancient stalagmites and stalactites and several species of bats including the rare long-eared bats.

Where to stay?

With minimalistic interiors, clear views of the ocean as well as spring water dipping pools, The Park Hotel Jodogahama is a perfect option if you’re looking for a zen-like stay in Iwate Prefecture. Taste the region’s rich cuisine in their restaurant where they specialise in local seafood and seasonal produce.

7. Puerto Princesa Underground River

Puerto Princesa Underground RiverPhoto: CC BY 2.0 / Carrie Kellenberger

Where is it? Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines

Why visit?

Flowing underneath the St. Paul Mountain Ridge on the island of Palawan is Puerto Princesa’s Underground River. This 8-kilometre long river, which flows out into the ocean, is home to unique wildlife, such as crabs, fish and spiders, that have adapted to life in this deep dark cave. One of the New Seven Wonders of Nature and a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Underground River is a must-see when in the Philippines.

Where to stay?

One of the best resorts in Puerto Princesa is Sheridan Beach Resort. A sprawling property located right on the beach, this hotel is a nature-lovers dream with mangroves, forests and nature trails in the surrounding areas.

With a plethora of different climates and terrains, Asia Pacific offers some of the most diverse and exciting places to travel. These locales include age-old caves – both recently discovered and those with long histories of human exploration. Use this guide as a checklist the next time you’re travelling in the region – you won’t want to miss these astonishing ancient sites.