The grotto systems are nestled in Hon Phat Co in Bai Tu Long Bay, one of whose sides borders Ha Long Bay.
Ha Long Bay is located in the northern province of Quang Ninh.
The disclosure was made in early December by Nguyen Sy Binh, a fisherman residing approximately 50 kilometers from Ha Long City, the province’s capital which is also home to Ha Long Bay.
Binh detected the cave systems more than three years ago.
The revelation came shortly after the discovery of 23 stunning new caves near Ha Long Bay was announced.
Binh agreed to pick up some Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters and take them to the recently announced cavernous wonders for a field trip.
It took less than 10 minutes to travel by speedboat from the mainland to the caves.
The entrances to the grottos are relatively treacherous, but Binh has fenced part of them and turned several others into stairs to ensure visitors’ safety.
Unlike several other grottos which Tuoi Tre reporters have explored, the entrances to the two cave systems are relatively wide and stand some 100 meters from the bay’s water level.
Stalactites inside one of the new caves hang loose from the ceiling. Photo: Tuoi Tre
The caves both boast countless stalactites of all sizes and shapes, imposing stone pillars, loft arches, and “mang da,” or stalactites with dripping tips.
Binh has been at a loss to name the myriad icicles.
The first cave system also prides itself on its numerous “royal chambers,” or spaces which measure around 10 square meters and are encased by blinds of cascading stalactites.
Meanwhile, the second cave system has sloping areas which form spectacular “stone terraced fields” as well as sunken floor patches.
Vestiges of immense geological significance are also found outside the cave, as fossilized crustacean shells remain firmly imprinted on huge stone slabs.
“I discovered the caves while herding goats more than three years ago, but only recently did my wife and I guide a group of staffers from a travel firm along with some local cultural officials,” Binh said.
The Tuoi Tre reporters were only the second group the fisherman had accompanied to the new grottos, he added.
More than 10 years ago, when Binh and his wife were working for a local tour company, they were tasked with growing aquatic products to provide food for tourists.
Over three years ago, while herding goats on mountain edges, Binh discovered the two cave systems inside Hon Phat Co.
Awed by the caves’ paradise-like, imposing beauty, Binh reported his new finds to his company leaders, who then decided to grant him approximately VND200 million (US$8,748) to build comfortable cottages along a bathing area in Hon Phat Co.
His plan was not implemented as a storm devastated his preparation and smothered his entrepreneurial spirit.
A conical stalactite is pictured during its formation process. Photo:Tuoi Tre
Back from a trip to Ha Long Bay in August, he realized that some existing caves in the bay stood no chance of rivaling those he had found.
He reported his plan once more to his company’s management and earned another sponsorship of VND100 million ($4,374), which was later spent on building paths and fences to the cave entrances.
Pham Thuy Duong, head of Ha Long Bay’s management, confirmed toTuoi Tre that before Binh found the caves they remained unknown and that the management have yet to survey the areas.
“We will work to determine the caves’ value and potential before reporting the results to the provincial People’s Committee. The grottos are likely to be zoned to better preserve them and tap into their value,” she noted.
Do Thi Yen Ngoc, from the Vietnam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, asserted that many of the 23 newly discovered caves near Ha Long Bay are of immense scientific and aesthetic value.
The bay’s management are poised to conduct studies and make the most out of the huge tourism potential these grottos hold, she stressed.