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Ha Long Bay Vietnam Information

Ha Long Bay Vietnam legend:

Ha Long Bay is one of Vietnam’s top attractions. The name "Ha Long" translates as ‘where the dragon descends into the sea. Ha Long” is literally translated as "Bay of Descending Dragons." Prior to the 19th century, this name was not recorded in any document or archive. When mentioning the present-day Quang Ninh Sea or Ha Long Bay, old historical books often referred to them by the names of An Bang, Luc Thuy or Van Don. Not until the late 19th century did the name of Halong Bay appear on a French Marine Map. “The Hai Phong News”, a French newspaper of the time, had an article, “Dragon appears on Ha Long Bay”, reporting the following story: In 1898 a sub-lieutenant named Lagredin, captaining the ‘Avalanse’ reported seeing a huge sea snake on Ha Long Bay. This was also witnessed by many of the crews. Thus emerged the European image of the Asian dragon. Whether this appearance of a strange animal looking like a dragon resulted the name of Ha Long Bay is not known (Reference “ Quang Ninh Province : Art and Culture” published in 2002).

There is also a local legend, which has been handed down, relating to the name Ha Long Bay, which tells the following tale: “Long ago, in the first founding days, the Viet people were attacked by foreign aggressors. The Jade Emperor sent the Mother Dragon and her band of Child Dragons to help the Viet people fight the invaders. While the enemy vessels were launching massive attacks against the mainland, the dragons descended in flocks from the sky. They spat out innumerable pearls which changed into jade stone islands the moment they touched the water. These islands linked together to form firm citadels that checked the enemy’s advance and smashed their vessels to pieces.

After the invaders were driven out, Mother Dragon and her Child Dragons did not return to Heaven but stayed on earth, right at the place where the battle occurred. The spot where the Mother Dragon landed was Ha Long, and where the Child Dragons came down was Bai Tu Long. The place where their tails violently wagged was called Long Vi, the present-day Tra Co Peninsula with its soft sandy beach stretching many kilometers.”

You will experience the unforgettable view of blue water intermingled with over two thousand limestone islets… Halong Bay is made up of 1,969 islands of various sizes, 989 of which have been given names. There are two kinds of islands, limestone and schist, which are concentrated in two main zones: the southeast ( belonging to Bai Tu Long Bay), and the southwest (belonging to Halong Bay). This densely concentrated zone of stone islands, world famous for its spectacular scenery of grottoes and caves, forms the central zone of Halong Bay, which has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Halong Bay resembles a geographic work of art. While exploring the bay, you feel lost in a legendary world of stone islands. There is Man's Head Island, which resembles a man standing and looking towards the mainland. Dragon Island looks like a dragon hovering above the turquoise water. La Vong Island resembles an old man fishing. There are also the islands of the Sail, the Pair of Roosters, and the Incense Burner, which all astonishingly resemble their namesakes. The forms of the islands change depending o n the angle of the light and from where the islands are viewed. At the core of the islands, there are wonderful caves and grottoes, such as Thien Cung (Heavenly Residence Grotto), Dau Go (Driftwood Grotto), Sung Sot (Surprise Grotto), and Tam Cung (Three Palace Grotto)… It is also a region of highly-concentrated biological diversity with many ecosystems of salt water-flooded forests, coral reefs, and tropical forests featuring thousands of species of animal and plant life. The 18th meeting of the Committee of the World Heritages of UNESCO ( in Thailand o n December 17th, 1994), officially recognized Halong Bay as a natural heritage site of worldwide importance.

“Ha Long Bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes.  The bay has a 120 kilometre long coastline and is approximately 1,553 square kilometres in size with 1969 islets.  Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves, others support floating villages of fishermen, who ply the shallow waters for 200 species of fish and 450 different kinds of mollusks.  Another specific feature of Hạ Long Bay is the abundance of lakes inside the limestone islands, for example, Đầu Bê island has six enclosed lakes. All these island lakes occupy drowned dolines within fengcong karst.”

Halong Bay & Cat Ba Island weather  
It is possible to visit Ha Long Bay year-round, but the best time to visit Ha Long Bay  from October through April, although during the winter months of December, January and February, the weather can be cool and overcast with low visibility. During the summer months from May to September, temperatures rise and storms are more likely during the rainy season. For people who love sun & sea with water sport likes kayaking, swimming then it is the ideal period.

Ha Long Bay beauty of Nature view: Visiting Ha Long Bay you also have change to visit: Hoang Gia Park, Tuan Chau Island, Yen Tu pagoda, ...

Hoang Gia Park
Tuan Chau Island
Yen Tu Pagoda
Ha Long Bay

Bai Chay Beach

Bai Chay is a resort located along the coast of Halong Bay. This is a windward ocean resort which has a year round average temperature of 20oC (68oF). Bai Chay is a low gently sloping range of hills that runs along the sea for more than 2 km. Blended in among the pine trees are large hotels and small villas with distinguished architectural styles. Traveling down the asphalt road along the coast, visitors see long white stretches of sand and green rows of Casuarina trees, tucked under which are small family-run restaurants. After swimming at the beach, tourists can enjoy cold drinks and cool off in the breeze that sweeps in from the sea.

Ha Long Bay grottoes and caves:

Dau Go Grotto ( Driftwood grotto )

Dau Go Grotto is found on Driftwood Island, formerly known as Canh Doc Island. The name Driftwood Grotto comes from the popular story of the resistance war against the Nguyen Mong aggressors. In a decisive battle, Tran Hung Dao was given an order to prepare many ironwood stakes to be planted on the riverbed of the Bach Dang River. The remaining wooden pieces were found in the grotto and, as a result, the grotto was given its present name. The entrance is reached via 90 steps up the island. The grotto is divided into three main parts. In the first chamber, many forms can be seen in the rock, depending on the imagination of the observer. In the middle of the chamber, on the top of the pillar, there appears to be a monk draped in a long, dark cloak, with his right hand clasping a cane. Moving into the second chamber, visitors pass through a narrow "door", naturally formed through erosion. The light here is mysterious, and new images appear in the stone. At the end of the grotto is a well of clear water surrounded by four ancient walls. In this grotto, there remains an engraved stone stele singing the praises of Halong Bay ordered by Emperor Khai Dinh when he came to visit the grotto in 1917. Dau Go is 40 minutes from Bai Chay.

Thien Cung Cave ( Heavenly Palace Grotto ):

This recently discovered grotto is one of the most beautiful in Halong Bay. Thien Cung is situated on the southwest side of the bay, 4 km from the wharf outside of Halong City. It is located in a small range of islands that resemble a throne embracing two superb grottoes at its core. The way to Thien Cung is perilous, covered on both sides by thick forest. After entering a narrow gate, the magnificent, 130 m long grotto opens up. According to legend, a beautiful young lady named May (cloud) caught the eye of the Dragon Prince and he fell in love with her. They were betrothed and got married in the very center of the grotto. All of the scenes of their wedding, which lasted for seven days and seven nights, have been seemingly fossilized in the grotto.

In the center, there are four large pillars supporting the "roof of heaven". From the base to the top, many strange images seem to exist in the stone, including birds, fish, flowers and even scenes of human life. On the north wall of the grotto, a group of fairies seems to be singing and dancing in honor of the wedding. Under the immeasurably high roof, stalactites form a natural stone curtain. There is also the sound of a beating drum made by the wind blowing through the stone. In the last chamber of the grotto, a natural gushing stream of water babbles throughout the year. Here there are three small ponds of clear water. One path meanders out of the grotto.

Sung Sot Cave ( Surprising cave ):

Situated in the centre of the UNESCO-declared World Heritage area, the Sung Sot or Surprise Grotto is on Bồ Hòn Island, and is one of the finest and widest grottoes of Hạ Long Bay.

Ascending to the grotto, the way is covered by trees and foliage, and consists of great paved stone blocks. Inside, it is partitioned into two chambers; the first one being similar to a wide theatre hall. Many stalactites hang from the high ceiling, with numerous possible forms and shapes. A narrow passage leads to the second rooms, where a flow of light meets visitors. The chamber is so immense it could contain thousands of people at one time. At the deepest point of the grotto, a "royal garden" appears with a clear pond and a seemingly fascinating landscape of mountains. Many birds and plants (benjamin figs, cycads and centenary banyan trees) live here. On nice days groups of monkeys might arrive in search of fruit.

It is situated in the central tourism centre of the bay, as well as Ti Tốp Beach, Bô Nâu Grotto, Mê Cung Grotto and Luồn Grotto. French named it "grotte des surprises" (grotto of surprise) From the wharf, you climb 50 steep stone stairs to the mouth of the grotto, which lies 25 m above the sea level. Going down some 10 stone stairs, you reach the mouth of a grotto. The grotto covers some 10,000 m2. Inside the grotto there have thousands of stalactites and stalagmites along the 500-meter paved passage. Light posts line the passage and serve as signposts and ornaments. The lighting system with elegant styles adds more charm to the beauty of the grotto. Up in the 30-meter roof of the grotto, one can figure out small, soft and even concave spots, which look like patterns in the ceiling of a theater. A huge piece of stone stands up to the ceiling by the grotto’s mouth. This evidences one of the typical karst-style grottoes with high scientific values. At the side of the entrance, the rock seems to form the shape of a horse with a long sword. Legend has it, that after having defeated the Ân aggressors, Thanh Giong (the Saint Giong) helped the population to chase away evil spirits and demons. After this feat, Saint Gióng flew to heaven, leaving a stone horse and sword to continue to keep the demons away.

Luon Cave:

Situated on Bo Hon Island, 14 km south of Bai Chay Beach is the Luồn Grotto. In front of the grotto is Con Rùa Islet, and the Sky Gate is on the right. Here the cliffs stretch vertically out of the pure blue and smooth water. At the water-level, an arched entrance leads to the grotto, just at the base of the island. Passing through the pretty entrance, you come across a tranquil round lake, surrounded by luxuriant trees and high dangerous stone walls. Monkeys run to and fro in groups, benjamin fig trees shade the landscape and many orchids hang their sweet-scented flowers. In the lake, many species abound: shrimp, fish, crab and cuttle-fish. This is an enclosed group of islands. It connects with the sea via a 4-meter-wide, 100-meter-long, and 3-meter-high mouth. Inside the grotto, the 1-km2 brackish lake is surrounded by mountains. On the cliff one still find traces of fossils of fresh-water snails, which prove that men used to live there and this must have been a deep valley then. The beauty of the site, is the mingling of a number of factors: the mountain's size and form, the colour of the water and the clouds.

Ba Ham lake:

Situated on the south-west side of Hạ Long Bay, Ba Hầm Lake is found on Ðầu Bê Island (Calf Head Island) in Lan Hạ Bay. This island is part of the range of islands at the farthest end of Hạ Long Bay, bordering the immense zone Long Châu Sea. Ba Hầm Lake is situated in the middle of a narrow, rectangular area, with the all four sides enclosed by vertical cliffs. The lake is a system comprising three wide and round pits, linked together by a narrow and meandering tunnel. Stalactites hang from the ceiling in a myriad of strange, coloured forms. The silence is disturbed only by the sounds of the boat’s oars. On the island are many species of plants such as orchids, benjamin figs, banyans and cycads, which blossom throughout the year. It is also the home of yellow-haired monkeys, birds, flying squirrels and bats. Under the deep blue surface of the water are the animated lives of shrimp and fish. Although 25 km from the shore, it has long been considered an ideal tourism zone. The entrance is a open semi-circular hole in the flat stone wall on the north-west side of the island, 4 to 5 m above the sea.

Starting from the entrance, tourists enter the first tunnel, which boasts a forest of stalactites and stalagmites in different shapes and various colours. They fall down the water surface like the roots of banyan or ficus trees. The deeper one pushes into the tunnel, the darker it becomes. The river is deep yet so clear that one can see shoals of fish swimming. Some 100 m from the entrance one finds a shaft of light coming from the roof of the tunnel, which reveals different kinds of orchids clinging to the cliff, cycads growing here and there, trúc duôi gà (a kind of reed with cock’s tail-liked yellow leaves) flourishing in clumps. In the southeast cliff of the second tunnel there grows an old carambola tree, which bears fruits all year round. Tourists can find groups of monkeys, flying squirrels, or silver-headed parrots gathering in its branches. Lying one cliff away from the second one, the third tunnel is home to various species of bats and butterflies. Amidst the tranquil atmosphere, you feel like boating in an abyssal well walled by mountains. Ba Hầm Lake is one of the beauty spots of Ha Long Bay.

Trinh Nu (Virgin) Grotto - Trong (Male) Grotto

The Virgin Grotto is situated in the island range of Bo Hon, in the system comprised of the Surprise Grotto, Dong Tien Lake, and Luon Grotto. The grotto is 15 km south of Bai Chay Beach. For some fishermen, the Virgin Grotto is home, while for young lovers it is a popular romantic rendezvous site. According to legend, there once was a beautiful fisherman's daughter, whose family was so poor that they were in service of the rich administrator of the fishing zone, who forced the family to give him their daughter as a concubine. However, the fisherman’s daughter already had a lover and refused to marry the administrator. The administrator got angry and exiled her to a wild island where she suffered from hunger and exhaustion. One frightful night she turned to stone. On this same night, her lover, knowing of her danger, rowed his boat in search of her. However, a tempest destroyed his boat, and he floated to a nearby island. In a flash of lightening, he saw his lover in the distance, but his calls were driven away by the wind. In his final exhaustion, he also turned to stone (today’s Male Grotto). When visiting the Virgin Grotto, you can still see the petrified girl with her long hair hanging down and eyes looking towards the mainland. Opposite the Virgin Grotto, the Male Grotto is still home to the lover whose his face is turned towards his mate. At times, his passionate calls and blows against the walls of the grotto can still be heard.

Ha Long Bay Islands - Islets

Tuan Chau Island

Ha Long, one of the World Heritages, comprises thousands of big and small islands. Each one has its own characteristic with various caves: Sung Sot Cave,Thien Cung Cave, Trinh Nu Cave. Tuan Chau Island is the only soil island of all. It is not only a place having beautiful natural surroundings: pine trees, lakes, beautiful beach…but also where President Ho Chi Minh chose to be the relax place of other State officials' and his when they came here in 1959. On the total area of 400 ha, Tuan Chau has the population of 1500. As planned, the total area of Tuan Chau will be widen to 675 ha. It enjoys the advantage of having both road and river transportations. It is about 18 km away from National Highway No.1. This route is an important blood vessel of the robust Hanoi – Hai Phong – Quang Ninh economic triangle. It takes about 3 hours from Mong Cai ( 2 hours by boat) and 1 hour from Hai Phong.

Tuan Chau island’s name is the combination between ‘linh tuan’ (the patrolman) and ‘tri chau’ (district chief) because in the feudal time, the royal army set up a guard station here to patrol and defend the borderland. Prior to 1999, the island's residents suffered from a very modest living standard.There was no power network and no clean water. Roads were only trails and there was no mechanical means of transportation. Tuan Chau was a very poor town where fishing with very rudimentary tools is the only means of living.

The first project of great significance was to link Tuan Chau and the National Highway No18 by building a road. The work was officially started on February 28th, 1998. All company staff had to overcome numerous hardships to achieve this difficult task, which translated people’s dream into reality. Tuan Chau has become well- known to both international and domestic tourists as an attractive destination with:

- a dolphin&seal club
- a circus
- a crocodile club
- an (artificial) beach with 4 km long.
- a Vietnamese culinary area
- a hotel and resort area of 5-star standard (200 rooms)
- a water recreation park with activities such as motor racing, canoeing, parachuting, water skiing, etc.
- Ha Long Bay sight- seeing services by canoe, boat, helicopter.
- a high tech water fountain with music playing, laser lighting and film projecting on water screens.

Trong Mai Island ( fighting cock island ):

Fighting cock island is situated on the south-west side of Hạ Long Bay, 5 km from the tourist wharf near to Ðỉnh Hương Islet. In a somewhat large expanse of open sea, the island seems to grow up from the bottom of the deep emerald waters. At sunset, the island with the height of over 10 m is bright red and in a somewhat tottery position. Their tiny legs support heavy bodies, and it appears that one strong wave could throw the two stone blocks into the sea. However, hundreds of millions of years have passed, and the Trống Mái is still there. The image of the island is the logo of Hạ Long Bay and Vietnam Tourism.

Dog Island ( Cho Da Island )

In the itinerary of Thiên Cung – Dau Go – Ti Top, after visiting Thiên Cung and Dau Go, one needs 10 minutes boating to the Stone Dog Islet. Some 8 m up the islet one can figure out a piece of stone in the shape of a dog sitting with its back to the sea, standing guard for the safety of seagoing boats for millions of years.

Incense Burner Island

In the itinerary of Thiên Cung – Ðầu Gỗ – Ti Tốp, one finds Ðỉnh Hương Islet or Lư Hương (Incense Burner Islet) to the southwest of Ðầu Gỗ Island. Passing the Chó Ðá (Stone Dog) Islet and the Con Mèo (Cat) Islet, one sees an imposing stone slab resting on two other small stones stands blocked the way. The stone slab resembles a huge incense burner, which lies in the middle of the sea as a holy object to worship the Sky and Earth.

TiTop Beach - Island

Situated about 7-8 km south-east of Bãi Cháy lies the small Ti Top Island. It displays a beach shaped like a crescent moon, and sand that has been washed to a snowy white by the tide. On 22 November 1962, this tiny island had the honour of receiving a visit from astronaut Ghermann Ti Tốp, a hero of the former Soviet Union, accompanied by Hồ Chí Minh. To perpetuate the remembrance of their visit, Uncle Hồ named the place Ti Tốp Island. It has now become an attractive beach for tourists and has various of tourist services. Thirty-five years afterwards, on 27 June 1997, Ti Top returned to the island having his name. Deeply moved, he wrote in the souvenir book of the Management Board of Hạ Long Bay: "My deepest thanks to destiny, which has allowed me to come back to this tiny island.” It has become a beach attracting many visitors.

Saddle Islet

The Yên Ngựa or Saddle Islet lies in Hạ Long Bay, in the centre of the World Heritage Area. Nature has creatively shaped two pieces of stone, one high and one lower, which are linked together to form an imposing rock, looking like a saddle. Boats can go through underneath. The whole rock resembles a sewing machine. How wonderful to have such a magnificent but elegant “saddle”, jutting some 10 m above the sea surface.

Quan Lan Island

Quan Lạn Island belongs to Bái Tử Long Bay; part of an island range on the outside of the gulf of Bắc Bộ. It has an area of 11 sq. km, and features eight populated hamlets. Quan Lạn Island stretch toward East – West from the foot of Vân Đồn Range to the Gót Mount with many high mountains to the east barring waves and winds, protect the villages. The island is situated on an important navigation route that connects China, Japan, Thailand and Philippines to Vietnam. Along two sides of the island are tens kilometres of sand beaches. This is the endless resource for glass making which the sea gives to man and it is also the extremely interesting tourism

Since the 11th century, Quan Lạn had been one of the centres of the ancient commercial port of Vân Ðồn, which was animated and prosperous at the time. Today, there are still many vestiges linked to the ancient commercial port. This also explains why the island, lying deep in the sea, has the large pagodas and archaeological sites seen today. On the island there is the Quan Lạn Communal House built in the 18th century; exceedingly beautiful and almost entirely preserved. Next to it is Quan Lạn Pagoda (Linh Quang Tự), which is dedicated to Buddha and God Liêu Hạnh.

The pagoda also worships the statue of old Hậu, a local person who made lots of contributions to the construction of the pagoda. The statue features a gentle and cheerful old woman, which adds an original character to the pagoda. Beside Quan Lạn Pagoda lies Nghè Quan Lạn (Ðức Ông) Shrine, which is dedicated to Phạm Công Chính, a local people who participated in the historical Vân Ðồn battle against the Yuan invaders. He was later honored as a god. Quan Lạn has many valuable sea products such as octopuses, butterfish, mackerel, holothurian, shrimp, and sái sùng.

Soi Sim Islet

Soi Sim is an soil island 400 m away from Ti Tốp Island, and 7-8 km from the Bãi Cháy Tourist Wharf. In the island there are many ancient trees. The Hạ Long Bay Management Board is going to build a system of guesthouses equipped with modern facilities.At present, a small beach has been improved and upgraded, adding more charm to the attractive holiday resort.

Ba Trai Dao Islet

This island consists of three small mountains with the height of 23 m, seen from afar, resemble three peaches (Ba Trái Đào). The island connects to a legend of about the romantic love between a youngest fairy who was very pretty with a young and poor fisherman. Because of feeling in love with him, she stole three peaches from Heaven for him, that if he ate, would give him eternal life, allowing them to live together forever. The King of the Heavens discovered the robbery and turned the peaches into three stone islands. Chastised, the young fairy had to return. Today, Ba Trái Ðào is a famous tourist attraction with three nice fairy beaches, romantic landscape. It is 22 km from south north of Bãi Cháy Tourist Wharf.

Bai Tho  Mountain (Poem Mountain)

Bai Tho Mountain is 106 m high. It runs along the coast, half on land and half in the sea. Sailing in the bay, one or two hundred meters from the mountain, one can see a poem carved on a flat stone cliff. In 1468, Emperor Le Thanh Tong, who was also a poet, made an inspection tour of the North-East region. He stopped at the foot of the mountain, and inspired by the magnificent beauty of his surroundings, he wrote a poem. Later, he had the poem engraved on the wall of the mountain. It is very interesting to climb the mountain and enjoy the panoramic view of the bay.

Cat Ba island

Cat Ba island is situated a mere 50 km east of Hai Phong city in the north of Vietnam. Cat Ba Island is part of a chain of 366 islands that lie within the larger area of Halong Bay. At over 200km2, Cat Ba is the largest island in Halong Bay. The island is easily accessible and matches neighbouring Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay for stunning natural beauty. It also offers visitors the added options of relaxation, adventure and cultural exchange.

In April 2005, Cat Ba was officially recognized as a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Cat Ba is known for its rugged limestone mountains, hot & cold springs, moist tropical forests and coral reefs, as well as its deserted beaches and casual island lifestyle. Cat Ba is now much sought after by both domestic and international visitors as a ready alternative to the city madness and bus tour boredom. Cat Ba Ventures is the only locally operated tour agency. It provides a unique insight into the island and its people.

Monkey Island

Monkey Island - Cat Ba Vietnam

stay on Monkey Island on the second night. As far as I know, there is only one resort- Monkey Island bungalows. There are maybe 8-10 bungalows which are very well appointed with HOT water. The food was pretty good and the views were gorgeous. Very quiet with great music, drinks, and hiking nearby.

Bai Tu Long Bay information:

bai tu long bay vietnam

Bai Tu Long Bay is one of the three triangular peaks of the World Natural Heritage.Bai Tu Long Bay is different from the rest of the World Natural Heritage. In Halong Bay over four hundred boats bring thousands of tourists each day so hundreds of tourists converge on the same place at the same time. At Sung Sot Cave you are likely to encounter 6 or 7 other groups of tourists in the chamber making it difficult to hear your tour guide’s talk about the geological value of the cave and how it was formed. Contrastingly Bai Tu Long Bay will charm you with its wild beauty with stone mountains, caves, long sandy beach, corals, forests, mangrove forests and lovely fishing village – and few tourists.It is rare to find a place on Halong Bay that is as packed full of aesthetic beauty, biodiversity, and culture as Bai Tu Long Bay – an outdoor museum where more than 340 millions years of history is stored and conserved with places such as: Da Xep Park, Ang Cong Dam, Thien Canh Son Cave, Quan Lan Island, and Vung Vieng fishing village…JSC Indochina Junk is proud to be the first and only company to have luxury boats that take tourists to the Bai Tu Long Bay area with many packages to choose from – kayaking; discovering the geology, geomorphologic and biodiversity value of the bay; fishing trips; talking with people in fishing villages; coral diving; and cycling on islands.Board our junks to explore the most beautiful routes in Halong Bay

Halong Bay @ Vietnam