Yes, the Thien Cung Grotto (Heavenly Cave) in Vietnam is lit up like a gaudy Vegas casino.
It’s also overly crowded and fairly kitschy, but underneath all that it’s still a beautiful old (like, formed 700,000 years ago old) limestone cavern.
The grotto is HUGE. It covers 3,000 square metres and has two floors, the second being about 20 metres above sea level.
While many limestone caves around the world are still actively dripping water that adds new deposits or fissures, Thien Cung Grotto is what’s considered a “dead cave”. What you see now is how it’s presumably going to remain for the next couple million years or so.
While it’s an easy-to-reach attraction for tourists visiting Halong Bay, Thien Cung Grotto isn’t geared towards folks looking to enjoy stalactites and stalagmites in a more subdued manner.
I mean, it’s really more about hand puppets than intellectual discovery.
So if old rocks are your thing then you might want to consider the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, which are more informative, well preserved, more naturally lit, and a heck of a lot less crowded.
Although, just as fair warning, they also like to “accidentally” lock visitors inside sometimes and turn out all the lights.
On second thought, maybe the Thien Cung Grotto isn’t so bad after all…