Located about 160km far away from Hanoi City, Halong Bay (as its name meaning Descending Dragon) is comprehensively the hunted place for tourists all over the world. Honorably recognized as World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1994 and listed in the New 7 Wonders in 2012, Halong Bay welcomes millions of tourists coming there every year to contemplate this magnificent masterpiece.
Do you realize the similarity between the old name of Hanoi City as Thang Long (attached to the legend of ascending Dragon), while Ha Long means Descending Dragon. Surely that the name Ha Long also origins from a legend. According to ancient stories, the Jade Emperor sent Mother Dragon and her Child Dragons down to have Vietnamese people in fighting against the enemy in their early times of establishing the country. It was a fierce battle in which the dragons emitted from their mouths many pearls, which then turned into thousands of stone islands and helped to stop the enemy’s boats. Thanks to the assistance of the dragons, Vietnamese people won the battle and after the victory, the dragons also decided to stay on the bay. The location where Mother Dragon landed is called Ha Long Bay while the place where Child Dragons landed is Bai Tu Long.
Not only having the beautiful landscape, Ha Long Bay also owning the dreamlike annual temperature at around 22.8 Celsius degree, perfectly suitable for tourists to travel all year round. The best time to visit is from March to August, when the sky is so blue and the sea is as smooth as a mill pond that would be great to shoot exotic photos. Except for the period between August and October is the season of typhoon, the other times cannot prevent tourists from coming there despite rainy weather in autumn or chilly in winter.
It is surprisingly that among thousand islands of Halong Bay, only 40 of them are occupied by human, mostly concentrated on the east and southeast of the Bay; and up to 980 of them have not given name yet. In the past, the local fisherman live on the sea, scattered on the whole gulf but nowadays, they have move to the three main areas: Cua Van, Ba Hang, Cap De which are also the attracting points for tourists coming to see the daily life of them, their activities of fishing or raising aquatic products. Just take Halong bay day tour watching the local life here and let’s try do kayaking or bamboo round boat in these places, would bring you excited feeling.
Today, many hotels and resorts have been built up in Ha Long city to accommodate the demand of increasing number of tourists flock there annually. You may refer to Vinpearl Ha Long Bay resort for a luxurious vacation with chances of relaxing, lying on the long sand Bai Chay beach, enjoying the crystal water; and easily travel to famous islands surrounding. Otherwise, let’s spend a few days on modern yachts with many interesting activities taken place on boat (Tai Chi exercises, cooking classes, etc), and overnight in the quiet territorial waters, feeling like you are a part of this magnificent bay. So, taking a cruise trip around Halong is one of the best ways to experience its beauty.
After you have chosen your favorite hotels or yachts or cruise, the rest is to discover the most beautiful and stunning islands in the gulf as much as you can. Below are the most wanted islands that are highly recommended to visit in Ha Long Bay:
Dau Go cave: Floating on the emerald water like a titan in the sea, Đầu Gỗ Island (Wooden Head Island) is amongst the most famous tourist attractions in Halong Bay. It’s easy to recognize it in the sea thanks to its mouth in jellyfish shape. The inner would satisfy all of your imagination, your expectation on what we often call: the magnificent product of Mother Nature. Its massive system of stalagmites and stalactites resembling stony waterfalls will change their vivid colors upon the intensity and angle of the sunshine. Specifically, far away from the mainland, but it do has a well and surprisingly that the water in the well is fresh water, not sea water. May be because once upon a time, a beautiful fairy has come here and take a bath there. Thanks to these unique features, Dau Go Cave is proudly voted as “Grotte des marveilles” (Cave of Wonders) by the worlf famous tourism book Merveille de Monde published in France since 1938.
Sung Sot Cave: Normally be called as Surprised Cave or Amazing Cave, located on Bo Hon Island, Sung Sot cave is also one of the most spectacular and largest grottoes of Ha Long Bay. The most attracting point of this cave is the “royal garden” there. You will find a clear pond and a fascinating landscape of small mountains inside it, together with many birds and plants, too. With the area of about 10,000 m2, and having thousands of stalactites and stalagmites along the 500-meter paved passage, while the height is more than 30 meter and the wall with innumerable cracks and crevices as evidence of magic natural creation, let’s contemplate and free your imagination on every step in this Amazing Cave.
Titop island: Famous for the beautiful beach with fresh atmosphere, clean water, and smooth white sand that create a great ambiance for tourists to relax. Thanks to all these, Ti Top Beach draws a huge amount of visitors during summer of special occasion. With only 8 kilometers away from the Southeast of Bai Chay Harbor, Ti Top Island is regarded as one of the most attractive site for both international and domestic tourists to Halong. It is interesting that the name Titop came from President Ho Chi Minh presented to the Russian astronaut German Titop on the occasion of his first visit to Halong Bay in 1962. In an attempt to accommodate the increasing number of tourists to Ti Top Island, there have been numerous high-end resorts, hotels, restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, life-buoy renting, skydiving, or kayak facilities built there recently.
Mê Cung cave: Me Cung Grotto (Bewitching Grotto) is situated on Lom Bo Island, about 2 kilometers far from Ti Top Island to the southwest. Its special attraction is the archaeological relic. The ground of the cave was formed by 1.2 meter think layer of fossilized shells. In the cave, archaeologists found a fossilized animal’s skeleton and many evidences of pre-Halong Culture dating around 7.000 – 10.000 years ago.
Trinh Nữ Cave and Trong Cave – The love story of Halong Bay
About 3 km away from Sung Sot Cave is the two cave named Trinh Nu Cave (Virgin Cave) and Trong cave (Drum Cave). As to legend, there was a pure love between a beautiful girl of a poor fishermen family and a young poor man. Unfortunately, the girl was forced to get married to a rich old man while her lover was on his trip. She denied the proposal from the old man and hence was brought to a desert island. She died and turned into stone (Trinh Nu Cave). The young man, after returned home and heard of such bad news, immediately sailed to such island and committed suicide. His body also turned into a stone island (Trong Cave) nearby (only 500-600m from the Trinh Nu Cave). It it also said that whenever lightening strikes, the sound from the cave is like from a big drum, hence the name Drum Cave. Drum Cave is also an archeological remain of Soi Nhu culture dating about 18,000 to 7,000 years ago. Visit these two caves would strengthen your belief in love, as you see, the evidence of pure love still here, the Trinh Nu Cave and Trong Cave.
Thiên Cung Cave: Located in the southwest of Ha Long Bay, 4 km away from Đầu Gỗ Cave, the Thien Cung Cave (Heavenly Palace Cave) is considered as the most beautiful primitive cave of the Bay. The cave is 10,000 square meters with complicated interior structure, many floors, and high ceiling. The cave becomes famous thanks to a unique system of stalactites and stalagmites with different forms and shapes. However, it’s a challenge for you to discover this Cave because exploring Thien Cung Cave’s craggy cliffs is no easy task. Going through a narrow door, you would be surprised by a large space inside the cave that the further you walk, the more beautiful formation of stalactites come to your eyes. At the center of the cave are many stone pictures of fish schools, flocks of birds, and the daily life of people from a giant natural rock pillar, all are naturally sculptured by stalactites for millions years. Therefore, this Cave is worthy for its name as a heaven on the sea.
Gà Chọi islet: (Fighting Cock Islet) or other name Trong Mai islet (Cock and Hen Islet), which is no doubt one of the most unique and popular features that has appeared on guidebooks and magazines as symbol of Halong Bay and Vietnam Tourism. Located about 5km to the southwest of Bai Chay wharf, Ga Choi Island is a pair of limestone islets shaped like two chickens with heavy bodies and tiny legs on a facing position. On the way to Bo Hon Island and Sung Sot Cave or at the beginning of the cruise, you will see them right away, seemingly tottering on the surface of the deep emerald water. Despite the height of 10 meters, from most angles, the island looks more like a female and a male about to kiss than two cocks are fighting.
Thiên Cảnh Sơn cave: Located in Bai Tu Long bay (as legend the place where Child Dragons landed), the Thiên Cảnh Sơn cave is less visited cause it’s take a long time to come here. You should choose a Yacht or a Cruise travelling to Bai Tu Long to visit this wild and mysterious Cave. Inside the cave, it is an ethereal wonderland with naturally carved images resembling a lotus, and a baby elephant. The ceiling of the cave is covered with a shiny ‘gem carpet’, and numerous sparkling stalactites appear like ’hanging lamps’. Stone statues of seals and flowers create an imaginary dream world.
Luồn cave: It’s about 14 kilometers from the south of Bai Chay Beach to reach to the Luồn Cave. With an 8 –hour cruise, it is possible for you to come to this fantastic cave after visit Sung Sot Cave. Luon Cave is about 60 meters long and 4 meters wide. Height of the ceiling ranges from 2.5 – 4 meters up on tidal level. Therefore, it only can be accessed by small boats or kayaks that many tourists prefer this transfer methods. Passing through Luon Cave, tourists will reach a quite large lake (diameter is about 1 km) formed by an enclosed group of lime-stone mountains. It’s a brackish lake with calm and green sea water. You will see many fossilized freshwater snail shells on the cave’s wall, proving that it was used to be a deep freshwater valley. Especially, it’s highlighted with pristine setting of ferns, orchids and wild golden monkeys. If you like doing kayak; also want to see wild monkey, it would be an ideal choice to visit this lovely cave.