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Quang Binh Plans to Build World’s Longest Zip Line Over Cave Kingdom

The 3.5-kilometer-long zip line will be part of a large tourism service complex in Phong Nha–Ke Bang National Park, which is home to world-famous Son Doong cave.

The People’s Committee of central Quang Binh province recently approved a detailed planning scheme to develop the attraction. The zip line will soar above the Chay River to the entrance of Toi (Darkness) Cave which is already open for tours, according to VnExpress.

The tourism center, which houses the zip line, will also include windsurfing, kayaking, and indoor climbing. It will be built in a mountainous 35-hectare section of the 123,326-hectare UNESCO World Heritage site. Nguyen Quang Hai, chairman of the company behind the project, said they hope to have the zip line open by early 2019. It will be able to serve around 1,000 tourists a day and is expected to cost VND300 billion (US$13.2 million) to construct.

Phong Nha-Ke Bang is home to over 300 caves, some of which are more than 400 million years old. Around 800 vertebrate species, including numerous endangered or threatened species of primates, birds, and bats, live in the forest. Around 30 caves are currently open to visitors.

While officials say the zip line will not damage the natural environment, the announcement is certain to cause controversy. People have already expressed outrage over plans to build a cable car system in the park to reach Hang En Cave, the third-largest cave in the world. Widespread opposition forced the government to abandon plans in 2014 for a gondola lift into Son Doong, the largest cave on Earth. Numerous public efforts have been launched to try and preserve the irreplaceable natural wonder.

Officials claim the projects are worth pursuing because of the tourism dollars they can bring to the impoverished area. Compared to the national average of US$2,200, residents of Quang Binh earned only US$1,263 last year. The nearby Formosa disaster greatly impacted the livelihoods of people in a region prone to natural disasters.  

The proposed zip line is just one example of Vietnam’s obsession with building record-setting aerial attractions in places of natural beauty. Sun Group, a major Vietnamese developer just completed the world’s largest cable car on Phu Quoc Island. The nearly nine-kilometer-long stretches from An Thoi Town to Hon Thom Island. Its 70 cars can carry 30 passengers each at a cost of VND500,000 (US$22) per ride.

[Photo via Phong Nha Tourism]

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