11 July 2024

The admission fees, Bt950 for Thais and Bt1,000 for foreigners, to enter the world-famous Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai province have been criticised as expensive, but are set for operational and safety reasons, according to Chutidet Kamonchanut, director of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation’s Chiang Rai office

He said today that the fees were set at the recommendation of experts, because the cave is considered a ‘special area,’ especially chambers 2 and 3.

There is no, however, charge to visit chamber 1, which is at a depth of around 200 meters, Chutidet said.

Of the fees, he said that “Bt300 will go to an expert, Bt50 to his assistant, Bt100 to rescuer, and Bt50 to a local guide. Moreover, Bt150 will go to a fund for park officials injured on duty and Bt300 will go to the Tham Luang welfare fund.”

On June 23r, 2018, twelve boys, aged 11 to 16, from a local football team called the Wild Boars, along with their 25-year-old coach, became trapped by flooding inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave complex.

The operation to rescue them involved various teams, including Thai Navy SEALs, international cave diving experts and rescue workers from multiple countries.

The boys were found alive on July 2, and they were successfully rescued through the complex and narrow passages on July 10.

Chutidet said each paid trip will last three hours and be limited to ten visitors, who will go 700 meters deep into chambers 2 and 3. The visitors will encounter the narrow passages and other obstacles the rescuers faced during the rescue mission.

“The difficulties and the obstacles, such as steep slopes, climbing and narrow passages on the route to chambers 2 and 3 require experienced tour guides equipped with special equipment, in case something happens,” he said.

Tourists wishing to join the trip have to be healthy, mentally and physically, and are required to register at least 15 days in advance.

The trips will begin next week, with tours scheduled twice daily on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.