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New grotto on Vietnam’s UNESCO-recognized karst plateau a promising tourist attraction

New grotto on Vietnam’s UNESCO-recognized karst plateau a promising tourist attraction

Thursday, April 23, 2015, 14:02 GMT+7

With access to a newly discovered grotto within the UNESCO-recognized Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark being restricted to facilitate further study, the resplendent cave promises to become a touristy spot.

Lung Khuy Grotto, whose discovery was announced early this month, nestles inside an imposing mountain in Quan Ba District, located in the northern province of Ha Giang.

The grotto is part of the Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark, which spans four of the province’s districts, including Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Dong Van, and Meo Vac.

Trieu Thi Tinh, vice director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters who expressed wishes to make a field trip to the Lung Khuy Grotto that the cave is currently barricaded, with no entry allowed.

“The provincial authorities have directed that access to the cave be obstructed for now so that exhaustive study can be conducted to come up with premium approaches to conserving the site and leveraging its tourism potential,” she added.

Tinh noted that local authorities have tasked police and militiamen with standing guard over the cave, which is one of the karst plateau’s most resplendent grottos, day and night.

After several phone calls, the Tuoi Tre reporters finally got a nod from the Quan Ba District authorities to enter the visually striking cave.

Upon reaching the entrance to the Lung Khuy Grotto at midday, they were surprised to see three policemen and some local militiamen braving the scorching heat and keeping a constant watch.

The cave entrance is surrounded by a stone wall which has two carefully locked doors.

Though two district culture officers accompanying the Tuoi Tre reporters were given the keys to the doors, the leader of the guard team would not let them in for not having a valid sealed reference from the district leaders.

The guards did not give in until another two phone calls to local officials were made.

The reporters were warned to take great caution as the cave is deep, dark, extremely slippery, and is filled with nooks and crannies.

As observed by the reporters, the cave is relatively wide, with certain sections measuring 50 meters in width.

Hanging from its ceiling are countless stalactites of various sizes and shapes.

Many are two or three meters long and boast bizarre shapes.

The cave is also adorned with drooping curtain-like stalactites, rugged dark-yellow stone pillars, and transparent, white stalactites.

A Tuoi Tre reporter (L) and a Quan Ba District culture officer are pictured exploring the Lung Khuy Grotto. Photo: Tuoi Tre

As part of the Dong Van geopark, the Lung Khuy Grotto as well as other caves and stone forests in Quan Ba District’s rocky area are also rich in geological value.

With its pristine charms and geological and geomorphologic diversity, the Lung Khuy Grotto promises to emerge as a fascinating tourist destination.

Though its discovery was not made public until early this month, many locals said they have been aware of the cave’s presence much earlier.

Van Thi Chu, a 60-year-old Mong woman who lives near the Lung Khuy Grotto, divulged that farmers usually fetch water from inside the cave to drink.

They also take shelter in the cave from the heat or rain.

Nguyen Tien Hong, head of Quan Ba District’s Office of Culture and Information, told Tuoi Tre that his district has recently included the Lung Khuy Grotto in a project which is meant to tap the tourism potential of scenic spots scattered in Quan Ba District from now to 2030.

“Quan Ba is endowed with quite many gorgeous caves, but a number of them have been intruded upon by human intervention due to locals’ limited awareness and lack of orientation and investment. We thus want thorough study this time to both properly conserve the Lung Khuy Grotto and bring out the best of its splendor for tourism purposes,” Hong noted.

Hanging from the ceiling of the Lung Khuy Grotto are countless spectacular stalactites of various sizes and shapes. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The Dong Van Karst Plateau was recognized by the UNESCO’s Global Geoparks Network in 2010 as one of 77 geological parks in the world and the second in Southeast Asia, after the Langkawi Geopark in Malaysia.

Located at an altitude of 1,000m-1,600m, the plateau is one of the country’s unique limestone areas, which contains significant imprints of the development of the earth's crust.

Up to 80 percent of the plateau’s karst formations are limestone formed by the elements through different natural development stages.

At least 13 fossil-geological formations have been found on the Dong Van plateau.

Among them, Chang Pung, the oldest, dates back 545 million years, according to the Vietnam Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resources.

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