The Department of National Parks in Chiang Rai has announced that safety precautions will be implemented prior to the reopening of Tham Luang Cave in July. The Cave flooded in 2018, stranding 12 Wild Boars football players and their coach for 18 days before being rescued.
Atthaphon Charoenchansa, director-general of the Marine and Coastal Resources Department said his department is surveying the Tham Luang-Khun Nam Nang Non National Park in Chiang Rai province’s Mae Sai district. Vernon Unsworth, a British cave diver who participated in the rescue mission, will assist.
Mr. Atthaphon also announced the five-year anniversary of the Tham Luang Cave rescue.
He stated that Tham Luang cave has become a popular tourist site for international visitors, although the cave’s inside is vulnerable and difficult to navigate, which complicates sightseeing.
As a result, restrictions will be enforced on anyone who wish to explore the interior of Tham Luang Cave. Only the exhibition zone and the area in front of the cave are currently open to the public.
According to Mr. Atthaphon, the national park will enable access to the first cave chamber, which is about 150 meters long, in July. Each tour group is limited to 25 persons, and each tour will last 30 minutes.
He said park officials will only allow 400 tourists, into the cave chamber per day and only four groups of 15 people each can visit the second chamber per day. Cave enthusiasts must submit an admittance application at least one week in advance.
Only researchers and experts will be permitted to enter the third cave area,and they too must submit a letter to the parks department at least 30 days in advance.
Chiang Rai’s Tham Luang Cave
The Tham Luang Cave, also known as the Tham Luang Nang Non Cave, is a cave system located in the Doi Nang Non mountain range in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand. It gained international attention in 2018 when 12 young boys from a local soccer team, called the Wild Boars, and their coach became trapped inside the cave.
The incident occurred on June 23, 2018, when heavy rainfall caused the cave to flood, blocking the team’s exit. The boys, aged between 11 and 16, along with their 25-year-old coach, ventured into the cave after their soccer practice and were unable to escape due to rising water levels.
A massive search and rescue operation involving Thai authorities, international experts, and volunteers was launched to locate and rescue the trapped individuals. The rescue mission was challenging due to the complex cave network, narrow passages, and treacherous conditions caused by the flooding.
After days of searching, the team was found alive on July 2, about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the cave entrance. The rescue operation then shifted its focus to safely extracting the boys and their coach. The intricate rescue plan involved divers guiding each boy individually through submerged sections of the cave.
The operation captured global attention and involved hundreds of rescuers from various countries. It showcased international cooperation and the bravery of the rescue teams. On July 10, 2018, the final members of the soccer team and their coach were successfully rescued, bringing the nearly two-week ordeal to an end.
The Tham Luang Cave incident served as a reminder of the dangers associated with cave exploration, especially during the rainy season. Following the rescue, the Thai government took steps to improve safety measures and restrict access to the cave during periods of heavy rainfall to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
Today, the Tham Luang Cave remains a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors who want to explore the cave system and learn about the remarkable rescue mission that took place there.
Chiang Rai Province in Thailand is home to several notable caves that are worth exploring. Here are a few popular caves in Chiang Rai:
1. Tham Luang Cave: Located in the Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park, Tham Luang Cave gained international attention in 2018 when a youth soccer team and their coach were trapped inside the cave for over two weeks. It’s a large and complex cave system with impressive stalactite and stalagmite formations.
2. Chiang Dao Cave: Situated in the Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary, Chiang Dao Cave is one of the most famous caves in Northern Thailand. It stretches for several kilometers and features magnificent limestone formations, including stalactites and stalagmites. The cave is also home to a revered Buddhist shrine.
3. Phu Chi Fa Cave: Located near the border with Laos, Phu Chi Fa Cave offers a unique experience. The cave is situated on a steep limestone mountain and requires a moderate hike to reach. Inside, you’ll find impressive rock formations and a tranquil atmosphere.
4. Mae Sai Cave: Situated in Mae Sai District, near the Thai-Myanmar border, Mae Sai Cave is known for its religious significance. The cave features a large Buddha statue and offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
5. Khun Korn Waterfall Cave: Found within the Doi Luang National Park, Khun Korn Waterfall Cave is a hidden gem. It offers a challenging trek to reach the cave, but the effort is rewarded with stunning views and a picturesque waterfall cascading into a cave chamber.
Please note that cave conditions can change, and it’s always advisable to check with local authorities or tour operators for the latest information and guidance before visiting any caves.