Each visit to the largest cave in the world only accepts 10 people, but there needs to be an addition of 30 people, in addition to entry fees and environmental services.
The exploration tour of the world’s largest caves, Son Doong, is 4 days and 3 nights at a cost of $3,000 (69.8 million VND)/person. Many people think that the value of the Son Doong tour is too expensive compared to reality, only for people who have money. In fact, what does this cost include?
The tour is designed according to European safety standards
Currently, Oxalis Adventure is the only company authorized to organize exploration tours of the Son Doong cave. In 2013, the company was authorized by the People’s Committee of Quang Binh province to build a project to construct an adventure circuit to explore this cave.
Each year, the number of visitors to the cave is limited to 1,000 people. The program lasts 4 days and 3 nights, taking visitors to discover masterpieces of underground rivers, magnificent stalactites, and even forests, and the cave’s own fauna and flora.
Mr. Nguyen Chau, the company director, shared: “Visitor and employee safety is our top priority in adventure tours and it is not allowed to bargain over safety requirements.” Mr. Howard Limbert, a British speleologist, worked with the company to develop a safety plan. Therefore, all equipment is ordered from Europe and approved by Mr. Howard.
In addition, each tour only has 10 guests, but requires 30 people for a tour. This includes 22 porters transporting luggage and food all along the way; 5 safety assistants; an international guide; a British cave expert; 2 chefs, and a ranger.
They carry 600 kg of equipment and supplies in and out of the cave, including human waste. All local porters and guides receive regular safety and rescue training. In case of an emergency, there will be rescue helicopters.
The team of porters is always the first to pass, to set up the camp or prepare the equipment on the routes they cross. They prepare guests with delicious meals, portable bathrooms, and changing rooms.
“Each porter carries a 30-kilogram luggage, in many places, it’s slippery and dangerous, they only wear normal shoes and sandals, but it’s fast and safe.”
Cost of Environmental Protection
In addition to 10% VAT, the trip price includes a $390 (8.8 million VND) entrance fee to Quang Binh province, and $210 (4.8 million VND) for forest environmental services fees (7% of revenue). As of 2020, the People’s Committee of Quang Binh province has made the decision to reduce the entrance fee by 50% to $195 (4.4 million VND). Thus, the environmental service fee is also reduced to $175 (4 million VND)/guest.
Therefore, the trip price has been reduced to stimulate demand, to 58.2 million VND.
The trip price also includes the total cost of airport pick-up, two nights’ stay at the hotel, meals before and after the trip. In addition, many other operating and administrative costs are also included.
Mr. Nguyen Asia shared that any activity has more or less impact on heritage. Therefore, environmental issues are also a factor in Quang Binh province and the company is very concerned when exploiting the tours.
Therefore, the People’s Committee of Quang Binh province only grants 1 to 8 months to organize the route to conquer Son Doong, the remaining 4 months for rebalancing. The visitor limit per year is 1,000 people, depending on the capacity of the campsites and the schedule of visits that do not overlap, i.e., not serving 2 tours at the same time.
Oxalis website: https://oxalisadventure.com/