Located in northeast Vietnam, Halong Bay is one part of the Tonkin Gulf. It was called 'the wonder standing in the heaven' by a world cultural Celebrities-Nguyen Trai. In 1994, Halong Bay was recognized as the World natural heritage about the values of geomorphology by UNESCO.
Halong bay is known as the capital of Quang Ninh province, Vietnam. The city mainly lies on Bai Tu Long which is part of the Halong Bay. It is located about 160 kilometers northeast of Hanoi. According to the census in 2001, its total population is 185.288. Halong city is divided into 2 parts: East Halong and West Halong. The eastern part (Hon Gai), where the most official buildings and industry are concentrated, is connected by bridge with the western part (Baichay) which is considered to be more of a tourism attraction.
Halong Bay is one part of the Tonkin Gulf,including the sea area of Ha Long City, Cam Pha Town and part of Van Don island. The Bay has a total area of 1553 km2, including 1969 islands, of which 989 islands have name and 980 islands have no name. Islands of Halong Bay are divided into 2 types: limestone islands and schist islands which concentrated in two main areas of southeast (belonging to Bai Tu Long) and the southwest (belonging to Halong Bay). Because Halong bay is situated in the north, the weather has 4 seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. Tourists can travel to Halong Bay whenever you want. It is the best choice if you choose to travel from April to October and from December to February. In the winter, tourists will have opportunities to enjoy a bit cold and foggy weather.
This place has many islands with the spectacular views and famous caves-this is central natural heritage of Halong Bay. The heritage area recognized by the world has total area of 434 km2 and 775 islands. It likes 3 vertices of a triangle: Dau Go Islet (in the west), Ba Dam Lake (in the south) and Cong Tay (in the east).
The magnificence of nature creates the beauty of Halong Bay. Halong was called "the wonder standing in the heaven" by a world cultural Celebrities - Nguyen Trai. Moreover, Halong bay also associated with the development of national history and famous spots such as Van Don, Bai Tho Mountain and Bach Dang River.
In addition, the archaeologists research into the sites at Dong Mang, Xich Tho, Soi Nhu, Thoi Gieng, which proves that Halong is one of the cradles of humankind. Besides, Halong focuses the biological diversity such as mangrove ecosystems, coral reef ecosystems, and tropical rainforest ecosystems. Furthermore, it has thousands of animal species, especially many rare animals that only found in this place. Discovering Halong Bay, tourists will feel like lost in fairyland; the island looks like the dragon which flies above the water (Dragon Island); the island seems to be an old man who sits to fishing (Ong La Vong islet). Moreover, there have Canh Buom Islet, Trong Mai Islet, Dinh Huong Islet…
In the heart of stone islands, there have the beautiful caves such as Thien Cung Cave, Dau Go Cave, Sung Sot Cave, and Tam Cung Cave that are really the castles of the heaven. With the special values, on December 17th 1994, in the 18th session of World Heritage Committee of UNESCO held in Thailand, Halong Bay was officially recognized as the World natural heritage. In November 2000, Halong Bay was recognized by UNESCO as the World natural heritage about the values of geomorphology. On April 27th, at the My Dinh national stadium (in Hanoi), Mr. Bernard Weber who founds New7Wonders, officially stated that Halong Bay became one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Halong Bay is the world of various beautiful caves which were mostly created in Pleistocene epoch in They belong to three groups: ancient underground caves, karst caves and palate caves. Grotto system is wealthy treasure of Halong Bay as its aesthetic value and geological value.around 2.000.000 – 11.000 years ago.
Sung Sot Cave (Surprise Cave) is situated in the center of Halong Bay's heritage zone. It lies on Bo Hon Island group, surrounded by the Bo Nau Cave, Me Cung Cave, Luon Cave and Ti Top Island. The cave was found by the French in 1901 and called as Grotte des surprises (Cave of the surprise).
Sung Sot Cave is a large cave with the size of 12.200 square meters. The cave has three compartments and high ceiling with lots of stalactites in various shapes. The ceiling’s maximal height is 30 meters. In the middle, there is a giant and beautiful stalactite pillar connecting the cave’s ground up to the roof.
The mouth of Sung Sot Cave is about 25 meters above the sea level. There is a stone in the shape of a horse and a long sword next to the entrance. The ancient legend has told that, after defeating the An Enemy, Thanh Giong flied to Heaven, leaving his sword and horse to reassure local people and dislodge demons. Currently, inside the cave, there are many natural images as the marks of that fierce battle. The trail of his horse became many little lakes and smashed rocks.
Sung Sot Cave is typical for karst caves on Halong Bay and has high scientific value in the field of geology.
Thien Cung Grotto (Heavenly Cave) is situated on Dau Go Island (Wooden Stakes I Thien Cung Grotto is at the height of 25 meters above the sea level. Visiting the grotto, tourists will feel like visiting an art museum with variety of sophisticated statues and reliefs. In the center of the grotto, there are four big pillars propping against the roof.
The original inhabitants of Halong Bay have told an ancient story about Thien Cung Grotto over many generations. The story is told that Dragon Prince was fallen in love with “Nang May” (Ms. Cloud). They held a lavish wedding party inside the grotto in 7 days and 7 nights. All kinds of animals and all genies took part in to share happiness with the couple. The celebration was that fun and bustling like on the heaven. Nowadays, entering Thien Cung Grotto, visitors can gaze party sceneries in the setting of stalactites and stalagmites inside.
The grotto has been discovered recently by explorers. Thien Cung Grotto is considered as one of the most beautiful caves of Halong Bay.
sland) in the southwestern Halong Bay and about 4 kilometers from tourism wharf.
Dau Go Cave (Wooden Stakes Cave) was found on the same name island, about 6 kilometers from Bai Chay wharf, Halong. This is the biggest and also the most beautiful grotto on Halong Bay.
Dau Go Cave was created in Pleistocene epoch around 2 million years ago. The cave is 27 meters above the sea level. The entrance is 12 meters wide and 17 meters high. Inside the cave is a huge space with the size of 5.000 square meters. The height of the dome is 25 meters.
Entering the cave, tourists will discover a magnificent world of stalactites and stalagmites which are the result of karst process in a long period. They are presented in various sizes and shapes. They seem like lively statues, reliefs about nature and people on Halong Bay. These masterpieces of the Creator will certainly be very impressive to visitors coming to Halong, especially when accommodated with mysterious light.
There several versions of story about the cave’s name were told by local residents of Halong. One of them is linked with historic battle against Mongolian invaders under Tran dynasty in 13th century. The story told that Dau Go Cave was the place hiding wooden stakes before they were driven into Bach Dang River. These stakes created a trap to destroy the enemy’s ships. Therefore, the cave then is called “Dau Go” (wooden stakes).
Luon Cave is located in the northeast of Bo Hon Island. It's about 14 kilometers to the south from Bai Chay Beach. Near the cave are Con Rua Islet (Turtle Islet) and Sung Sot Cave (Surprise 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 boat or kayak.
Passing through Luon Cave, tourists will reach a lake formed by an enclosed group of lime-stone mountains. The lake inside seems like a stadium surrounded by high podium. It’s a brackish lake with calm and green sea water. Size of the lake is nearly 1 square kilometers. On the cliff are many fossilized freshwater snail shells proving that place used to be a deep freshwater valley. Especially, it’s highlighted with pristine setting of ferns, orchids and wild golden monkeys.
The perfect combination of lime-stone mountains and jade-green sea makes Luon Cave a unique site to visit on Halong Bay. Furthermore, Luon Cave is a preferred place of tourists for kayaking.
Me Cung Grotto (Bewitching Grotto) is situated on Lom Bo Island, about 2 kilometers far from Ti Top Island to the southwest.
The mouth of Me Cung Cave is on the height of 25 meters above the sea level. The space inside is divided into many small chambers. Passing the narrow entrance, visitors will enter a world of wonder with various stalagmites and stalactites in living forms of genies and wild animals. Sunshine from the outside makes the cave more mysterious.
Beside the magical beauty inside, Me Cung Cave is also an archaeological relic. The ground of the cave was formed by 1.2 meter think layer of fossilizedshells. 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.
Ba Trai Dao Islet (Three Peaches Islet) lays near Cat Ba Island, in the territory of Halong City, Quang Ninh Province. It is far 22 kilometers from Bai Chay Tourist Wharf to the Southeast. By speedboat, it takes about an hour from Bai Chay Tourist Wharf.
The islet is a group of three small mountains which look like three peaches from a far. The average height of three mountains is 23 meters. It’s featured with Ba Trai Dao Beach which is one of the most beautiful beaches on Halong Bay. The beach has the shape of a bow embracing the islet. However, tourists just can swim at the beach in about 2 – 3 hours a day because the tide rises and engulfs the beach.
The local residents of Halong Bay now still tell the old story about the origination of Ba Trai Dao Islet. Story has it that the youngest daughter of the God fell in love with a poor fisherman. As she wanted him to be immortal to be with her forever, she stole three peaches in the heaven for him. The God noticed and was very angry. He turned three peaches into three stone mountains on the sea. Therefore, the locals named the islet as “Ba Trai Dao” Islet (Three Peaches Islet).
Bo Hon Island is situated in the center of the UNESCO - declared World Heritage area on Halong Bay. It takes about an hour and a half by boat from Bai Chay Tourist Wharfto reach the island.
Bo Hon Island is one of the most beautiful and largest islands on Halong Bay. It’s actually an island range of linked islets. High lime-stone mountainson Bo Hon Island are featured with vertical cliffs and ever-green forest. From a far, it looks like a majestic citadel in a Chinese ink-brush painting.
Bo Hon Island is famous for its grottoes including Sung Sot Cave (Surprise Cave), Luon Cave, Trinh Nu Cave (Virgin Cave) and Trong Cave (Drum Cave). Therefore, the island has become a preferred stop of tourists in the trip on Halong Bay.
Bo Hon Island seems like a natural park with diverse species of flora and fauna. Various kinds of plants such as benjamin fig trees, cycads, orchids, etc. can be found on the island. It’s also home to several wild animals like monkeys, deer and chamois.
Con Coc Islet (Toad Islet) is situated about 12 kilometers from Bai Chay tourist wharf to the Southeast of Halong Bay. It's about 9 meters high above the sea level. Viewing from a far distance, the islet looks like a big toad which is waiting for the rain at the middle of the sea.
According to a story of Vietnamese people, once upon a time, the God forgot making rain and this resulted in continuing serious drought threatening the live of all species. A brave toad led a group of animals to meet the God and asked him for a rain. That toad was honored as the uncle of God. Thereafter, when the toad grinds its teeth together, it’s rain immediately. The grind of the toad has become a sign of rain and helps Vietnamese farmers forecast the weather in agriculture.
Dinh Huong Islet (Incense Burner Islet) is so - called Lu Huong Islet. It's located in the southwest of Dau Go Island (about 6 kilometers from Bai Chay Tourist Wharf, Halong).
Dinh Huong Islet comprises only one huge stone. When the tide is low, tourists can see its four pins underneath. The islet is in the shape of an incense burner in the middle of the sea. In the majestic setting of sea and islands, Dinh Huong Islet seems like a holy symbol dedicated to national heroes who died to protect the country.
Dinh Huong Islet is an outstanding site of Halong Bay that draws the attraction of several tourists coming to Halong. Nowadays, it’s easy to find the image of Dinh Huong Islet on the 200.000 VND bill.
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