2017’s tours to world’s largest cave in Vietnam province on sale

By VnExpress   August 17, 2016 | 06:00 am GMT+7
2017’s tours to world’s largest cave in Vietnam province on sale
An adventure tour through the world's largest cave Son Doong in Quang Binh Province. Photo courtesy of Oxalis Adventure Tours

Bookings have been available since August 15 and are often sold out quickly.

An exclusive adventure tour into Son Doong, the world’s largest cave, in Quang Binh Province has opened for bookings for 2017 and will accept up to 600 tourists.

Since August 15, Oxalis Adventure Tours (http://oxalis.com.vn/), the single private company licensed to explore the cave, has started to sell tours in 2017 on its website for around $3,000 per person. Just like last year, the cave will open from January to August to avoid bad weather, the company said.

Oxalis will have to maintain the same itinerary and number of tours, with a maximum number of 600 tourists in total, the company said. Accordingly, each tour last for five days and four nights with ten people at most, who will be accompanied by a team of at least 25 people, including porters, a cooker, a tour guide, two cave experts and two park rangers.

Tourists are required to make sure that their health is suitable for activities that include 50 km (31 miles) jungle and mountain trekking, elevation change up to 400m (between road and valleys), surface river crossing 40 times (knee deep, 10-50m wide river), 10 km caving including rope climbs, rocky terrain and scrambling, 80m descent with rope and harnesses, and underground river-strong current crossing.

Oxalis, headquartered in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in the central province of Quang Binh, has been organizing tours to Son Dong Cave since August 2013.

The company sold out limited tours well before it started. 442 tourists explored the cave last year, including foreign diplomats from the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Sweden, Argentina, or Czech Republic.

First discovered in 1991 by local resident Ho Khanh, Son Doong shot to international fame in 2009 after being explored by members of the British Cave Research Association with Khanh’s help.

The cave, which contains at least 150 individual grottos, a dense subterranean jungle, and several underground rivers became known as the world's largest cave.

The five-kilometer-long Son Doong is 150 meters high and 200 meters wide. It took over as the world’s largest from Deer Cave in Malaysia, which is 148 meters high and 142 meters wide at the widest part.

In May 2015, the cave was featured in Good Morning America, the number one morning show in the U.S. It was the first live feed from Vietnam for the popular talk show.

Tours to Son Doong are resumed at a time when the tourism sector of Quang Binh has borne the brunt of the toxic disaster caused by the Vietnam unit of Taiwanese conglomerate Formosa Plastics Group in Ha Tinh Province.

In early April, large quantities of fish washed up dead near the Vung Ang Economic Zone in Ha Tinh Province. The disaster stretched 200 kilometers (124 miles) along the central Vietnamese coast, as far south as Thua Thien-Hue, resulting in the death of more than 70 tons of sea fish and 35 tons of farm-raised fish. Especially hard hit were Ha Tinh, Quang Tri, Quang Binh and Thua Thien Hue provinces where thousands of fishermen lost customers or were forced to sell at a loss.

The number of tourists to the central province has recorded a 20-percent year-on-year decrease, plummeting to 1.3 million, Tran Tien Dung, Quang Binh's vice mayor, said last month.

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