On December 18th, 2023, Mr. Chutidet Kamonchanut, the Director of the Office of Conservation Area Management No. 15, held a press conference after the opening for tourists to explore deeper chambers with a controversial entrance fee at Tham Luang National Park, Mae Sai, Chiang Rai.
Chutidet publicly revealed that tourists could still visit the first chamber at a depth of approximately 200 meters for free. However, for the second and third chambers at the depth of 653 meters and 715 meters respectively, there would be entrance fees of 950 baht for Thais and 1,500 baht for foreigners.
The reasons reportedly were about extra security that needed cave specialists and other expertise with five individuals to guide a group of less than ten tourists in two sections a day, said Chutidet.
During the spelunking expedition, it was reported that there would be a 4 to 5-meter rope climbing section and crawling through narrow channels. Moreover, the professional guides would describe the rescue of the 13 Wild Boars along the way, remarked Chutidet.
Despite online controversy after the announcement of the pricing, many foreign tourists requested to explore the cave without any worry about the price as it was affordable for them, said Chutidet.
Therefore, the price is relatively reasonable as the expenses will be divided between professional guides, cave maintenance, welfare funds, insurance, and other miscellaneous expenses, concluded Chutidet.