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The Trang An-Tam Coc/Bich Dong landscape in Ninh Binh province has one of the most scenic tropical karst morphologies in the world and attracts up to 1 million visitors per year. The region is also famous for its cultural heritage in terms of archaeological importance and the many places of religious significance - Chua Bai Dinh being the largest pagoda in Vietnam. Hoa Lu was the capital of the Vietnamese kingdoms between the 10th and 11th centuries AD (from 968 to 1010) resulting in many historical monuments, some over 1,000 years old. There is also a high biodiversity known from the region. This unique combination makes the Trang An-Tam Coc/Bich Dong landscape one of the most stunning places to see on Earth.
The caves of Ninh Binh province are of high scientific and economic interest. Archaeological excavations have taken place in several caves in the Trang An-Tam Coc/Bich Dong area as well as in caves in the Cuc Phuong National Park, yielding Paleolithic finds up to 33,000 years old. The caves are also one of the main attractions to visitors and serve as important passageways between the intra-mountainous lakes.
This report presents the known caves of Ninh Binh province and comprises results from various explorers since 1986. Although this report mainly focuses on the Trang An-Tam Coc/Bich Dong landscape complex (Hoa Lu, Gia Vien and Nho Quan districts) it also covers caves in the Cuc Phuong National Park (if situated in Ninh Binh province) as well as caves from the Tam Diep and Yen Mo districts. Ninety-nine caves are described in detail representing a total 13.6 km of mapped cave passages.
The book in front of you can only be regarded as the very first start in regard to a complete overview of the caves of Ninh Binh province. On cave distribution maps presented in this report an abundance of cave entrances are marked with many of those caves not having been visited yet. Furthermore the karst mountains which are more difficult to access have not all been checked at all for their cave potential yet. Consequently, this publication strives to encourage more speleologists and karst. In English.