Vietnam authorities suspend tours to world’s largest cave

By Truong Quang Nam, Thanh Nien News

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Visitors camp inside Son Doong Cave overnight. Photo credit: Oxalis Company Visitors camp inside Son Doong Cave overnight. Photo credit: Oxalis Company


Adventure tours to Vietnam’s Son Doong Cave -- the largest cave in the world -- has been suspended starting September 1.
Authorities in the north-central province of Quang Binh made their announcement following the conclusion of a one-year pilot tourism program involving a single vendor.
Nguyen Chau A, director of Oxalis Company, said his firm is seeking approval from provincial authorities to continue conducting tours in the cave.
Located in the heart of the well-traveled Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, Son Doong became world famous in 2009 after members of the British Cave Research Association led by Howard Limbert and his wife Deb Limbert were brought to the cave by local resident Ho Khanh.
Quang Binh officials licensed Oxalis as the sole vendor permitted to lead tours to Son Doong between August 2013 and August 2014.
A total of 243 tourists explored the famous cave.
Visitation to Son Doong, which spans 150 meters high and 200 meters wide, is restricted for conservation purposes, according to Quang Binh authorities.
The New York Times artfully described the huge shafts of light that penetrate Son Doong's vast caverns, allowing forests of 100-foot-tall trees to thrive in spaces big enough to accommodate 40-story skyscrapers. 
Colossal 260-foot stalactites are also present. Monkeys, hornbills and flying foxes have all been spotted in the  surreal subterranean habitat.

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