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Quang Binh

Quang Binh cuts entrance fees at 3 caves to attract tourists

Quang Binh authorities have announced a 30 percent cut in entrance fees for three caves from the end of this year.

The new prices will apply only for guests who stay at any hotel in the province.

The Thien Duong Cave in Quang Binh Province. Photo: Ngo Huy Hoa

The Thien Duong Cave in Quang Binh Province. Photo: Ngo Huy Hoa

Current ticket prices are VND250,000 (US$11.2) for Thien Duong cave and VND150,000 and VND80,000 for Phong Nha and Tien Son.

The People’s Committee has also called on hotels and restaurants to reduce prices by 10-20 percent to attract more tourists.

Authorities will also make daily announcements of test results of seawater to ensure it is safe for swimming as the recent mass fish deaths in four central provinces, including Quang Binh, remains a mystery.

According to Quang Binh Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the marine disaster has damaged tourism, with the number of visitors falling by 100,000 a month.

Hotel occupancy rates have dropped by a third over last year.

The province wants the government to cut taxes and provide low-interest loans for its tourism companies.

Quang Binh, home to the world’s largest cave, Son Doong, and beautiful beaches, expects to attract more than 3.3 million tourists this year.

Stalactites inside Thien Duong Cave

Stalactites inside Thien Duong Cave

A boat station inside Thien Duong

A boat station inside Thien Duong

Source: thanhniennews

Destination

Vietnam’s Son Doong Cave, already world’s largest, may be bigger than thought

Caving experts are preparing to dive an unexplored river passage inside Son Doong Cave, with the hope of finding a connection to a nearby river cave, thereby proving their hypothesis that the world’s largest natural cave is even much bigger than previously thought.

A photo taken inside Son Doong Cave. Photo: Ryan Deboodt

A photo taken inside Son Doong Cave. Photo: Ryan Deboodt

Oxalis Adventure Tours, which organizes commercial tours to Son Doong, is working with members of the British Cave Research Association (BCRA) to prepare an expedition to explore an 600-meter underwater passage discovered inside the massive cave in the central province of Quang Binh.

It is expected that this smaller passage will connect to nearby Thung Cave, which was explored back in 1994 and which also has a great river running through the cave, according to a press release.

“When we discovered Son Doong Cave in 2009 and completed its survey in 2010, we realized that the final end of the river in the cave was just 600 meters in a straight line from the end of Thung Cave,” said Howard Limbert, a member of the British Cave Research Association and technical director with Oxalis.

The team spent eight years considering different methods to determine where this passage leads, and eventually decided that only with a dive could they truly explore and map this section of the cave, as a physical connection is the best way to prove these two caves are one.

A map of the underwater passage inside Son Doong Cave where caving experts plan to explore in April 2019. Graphic: Tuoi Tre

A map of the underwater passage inside Son Doong Cave where caving experts plan to explore in April 2019. Graphic: Tuoi Tre

The date of the dive has been confirmed for early April 2019, when river conditions are expected to be ideal, Oxalis announced.

“It will not be easy as it is a big river in a relatively small passage and hence the current will be strong,” Limbert commented on the difficulty of the dive.

The team has invited four experienced British cave divers, Rick Stanton, John Volanthen, Jason Mallinson and Chris Jewell, to join them in the expedition.

The four divers all played critical roles in the high-profile rescue operation of 12 junior football players and their coach from Tham Luang Cave in northern Thailand in July.

This diving team will also be joined by caving expert Martin Holroyd, who works as safety guide on current Son Doong Cave tourist expeditions organized by Oxalis.

A support crew including ten well-trained local porters will also join the trek and assist in carrying additional oxygen tanks, a compressor, and all equipment necessary to establish a mini-base camp inside Son Doong Cave.

The crew has worked with the BCRA team over the past 10-15 years exploring caves in the region, Oxalis said.

Porters work inside Son Doong Cave. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Porters work inside Son Doong Cave. Photo: Tuoi Tre

“Being the best divers in the world we really think they can be successful in joining these two caves hence making Son Doong Cave even bigger than before,” Limbert added.

The present length of Son Doong Cave is nine kilometers, with an average passage size of 67.2 meters and an overall volume of 38.8 million cubic meters.

Meanwhile, Thung Cave currently stretches 3.3 kilometers in length with a smaller average passage size of 22 meters and an overall volume of 1.6 million cubic meters.

Therefore, the total volume of the cave if connected by this passage would be over 40.4 million cubic meters in addition to the connection passage, according to the caving team.

While Son Doong is already the largest natural cave in size, it currently ranks second when it comes to overall volume of the entire cave system, with Clearwater Cave in Malaysia being first with 39.5 million cubic meters in volume, according to Limbert.

If the upcoming expedition is successful, Son Doong Cave will become the largest cave in the world by both its size and volume, he added.

According to an Oxalis announcement, participants of the expedition are all caving enthusiasts who “respect and admire these underground marvels of nature.”

Strict guidelines will be followed to ensure the ecosystem of the cave is maintained and formations are not damaged in any way, the company added.

Source: Tuan Son / Tuoi Tre News

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Destination

Vietnam’s Son Doong Cave is magnificent in this ‘Good Morning America’ video

A six-minute video posted on YouTube has showed the journey of Good Morning America’s film crew inside “an extraordinary cave” deep inside a jungle of the central province of Quang Binh.

The scenes were shot from the Son Doong (Mountain River) Cave in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and were broadcast to American viewers on Wednesday in the popular morning program on ABC.

The crew used seven Phantom 3 drone cameras to get aerial shots of the magnificent cave.

The film crew on a stalagmite in Son Doong Cave. Photo from Ginger Zee's Facebook page

The film crew on a stalagmite in Son Doong Cave. Photo from Ginger Zee’s Facebook page

Ginger Zee, the host of the live broadcast, said the journey to Son Doong was the grittiest, most difficult and dangerous assignment she had ever been on.

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 in 2009.

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North Central

Son Doong Cave – Tourism a no-no for world’s biggest cave

Son Doong Cave is based in Quang Binh, in the North Central part of Vietnam, midway between Danang and Hanoi. At the moment, the cave is only available to visit between February and August and closed from September to January due to flood.

Discovered in 2009, Son Doong Cave in Quang Binh, Vietnam, is currently the biggest cave known by mankind.

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This giant is the champion in every aspect. The entire cave is approximately 9 kilometers long with the largest chamber of 200 meters wide and 150 meters high. With such a scale, Son Doong can comfortably host an entire city with NYC’s skyscrapers of up to 40 stories or allow a 747 to fly through. The cave is as twice as large as its runner-up, Deer Cave in Malaysia. Stalagmites in Son Doong are also among the tallest in the world with some towering over 70 meters high.

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Not only exceptional in size, Son Doong is also ranked by BBC News as the most beautiful cave all over the globe. If you have ever watched James Cameron’s Avatar, you may find Son Doong more or less similar to the scenes on Planet Pandora. Untouched by humans and abnormally large, Son Doong has its own river, jungle and climate. Yes, river, jungle, and climate within the cave! The huge temperature difference between the air inside and outside creates a constantly hovering clouds of mist that gives rise to a miraculous and surreal atmosphere.

Son Doong was discovered by a local lumberjack named Ho Khanh. Although only in 2009 was the discovery officially announced by the British Cave Research Association, Ho Khanh’s first encounter with the giant was actually in 1991, during one of his logging trip. At that moment, Ho Khanh never knew that he had discovered the world’s largest grotto. Indeed, the powerful and mysterious wind blowing from inside the cave scared him as he thought it was one of the cave monsters in local mythology.

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Son Doong became open for commercial expedition in 2013. Since then, it has attracted throngs of adventurers who want to have the extraordinary and unique experience of discovering the biggest cave on Earth.

How to get there

Son Doong is located in Son Trach, Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province, Vietnam. There is currently no paved road leading to the cave and the journey to the cave is an adventure itself. It will take you about 6 hours to walk 10 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh Highway into the dense tropical forest of Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park to reach the mouth of Son Doong.

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By Air

The nearest airport is Dong Hoi Airport, which lies in the capital city Dong Hoi of Quang Binh province. There are several ways to get to Dong Hoi. For hardcore adventurers who cannot resist the urge to enter the cave as soon as possible, flying is the optimal option as it will save both time and energy.

Vietnam Airlines offers flights from Hanoi to Dong Hoi while Vietjet Airs offers flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Dong Hoi on daily basis. Travel time is around one hour for both.

By train

Alternatively, you can board the Reunification Express trains. Because Vietnam has a lengthy S-shape, there are train services from various cities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Hue, Vinh, etc. to Dong Hoi. Travel time varies with distance from your starting point.

Buses and taxies are available too, offering more route options and flexibility. Prices and travel time also vary with starting destinations and service providers.
From Dong Hoi, you will be transferred to Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park and then to the trekking point on Road 20 of Ho Chi Minh Highway, by bus. Therefrom, the only vehicle available is your own feet. To reach Son Doong, it will take you around one day to traverse through forests, hills, and rivers so some fitness and endurance are required. Along the way, you will visit an ethnic village called Ban Doong and spend the night in Hang En Cave.

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Best time to visit

The best time of the year to visit Son Doong is from February to August. From February to April, the weather is cool and mild, perfectly suitable for trekking in the cave. However, it can be quite cold at night so be prepared to bring along some trekking jackets. From May to August, the weather is often hot and humid, making the expedition more arduous and challenging. From September to January, the cave is closed as the flood also makes it impossible to access to the caves during this time of the year.

Location: Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Bo Trach District, Quang Binh Province, Vietnam

* Photo courtesy by John Spies, Jason Speth and form Internet

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