Quang Binh Province, the home of magnificent caves in central Vietnam, has announced the discovery of 57 more, including one which could have been formed underwater five million years ago.
The provincial government said at a press briefing Wednesday that the caves were found by a team that comprised 13 members of the British Caving Research Association and experts from Vietnam National University, forest rangers and locals.
Among the new caves is one that stretches nearly three kilometers and was probably formed around five million years ago under what used to be a lake. Most other caves are between two and three million years old.
The water is gone but traces of strong currents are visible on the cave walls.
Howard Limbert from the British cave association said the five-million-year-old cave has been named Hoa Huong, after the husband and wife who helped with the discovery.
The association has been exploring caves in Quang Binh since 1990, creating a map to 311 of them including the world’s largest cave Son Doong. Their work has helped earned Quang Binh’s fame as the kingdom of cave adventures in Southeast Asia.
Limbert said his team has only explored a third of limestone mountains in Quang Binh and they might find bigger caves than Son Doong in the future.
A Hollywood crew earlier this year chose Quang Binh as one of the locations to film the much-anticipated King Kong reboot "Kong: Skull Island."
Nguyen Huu Hoai, chairman of Quang Binh, said the province’s tourism has gone from zero 20 years ago to 2.8 million arrivals last year, thanks to the caves, mostly to the successful promotion of Son Doong.
The province's tourism revenues in 2015 surged a staggering 90 percent from the previous year to VND179 billion, or more than US$8 million.
A new cave in Quang Binh Province discovered by British cave researchers and locals. Photo credit: British Caving Research Association for VnExpress
More than 20 kilometers of caves have been explored between March 5 and April 11
Traces of water currents inside Hoa Huong, a cave believed to be five million years old
The entrance into Hoa Huong
Another newly found cave of more than 2.5 kilometers long
The exploration team is going to propose to the provincial government to open some of the new caves to tourists
Explorers drink water stored in trees branches
One of many natural sinkholes found at the caves. Many are more than 100 meters deep and terrifying even to professional explorers
A hole of 130 meters deep in the middle of jungle, as seen from a flycam
A scorpion found inside Hoa Huong Cave
One of the Vietnam War-era bombs the exploration team has run into