Hạ Long Bay, northeast of Vietnam, is known for its emerald waters and its thousands of lush limestone islands with rainforests on their peaks. The local legend tells that its characteristic islets were formed by dragons. Due to this, it is known as Vinh Ha Long, meaning “bay of the descending dragon.”
Ha Long Bay was formed millions of years ago and has been inhabited for approximately 20.000 years! Historically, Vietnamese people maintain the folk legend of “Con Rồng, cháu Tiên” meaning “children of dragons, grandchildren of Gods.” Ha Long is still known as “the land of dragons”.
Legend has it that when Vietnamese people established their country, they were invaded. The Jade Emperor employed Mother Dragon and her Child Dragons to help the Vietnamese fight the invaders. The invaders’ boats arrived from the sea as the dragons landed on Earth.The dragons immediately spewed forth pearls which turned into thousands of rocky islands creating a solid wall to block the enemy warships. Enemy ships were moving fast when suddenly they hit these rocky outcrops that smashed them into millions of pieces.
There was another legend said that in the period of foreign invasion, a dragon flew along the river, down to the sea and landed at the northeast coastal region to form a wall preventing enemy access. The space where the dragon landed to guard the country is now known as Ha Long.
In 1994 Halong was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and since November 2011 has been considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
The bay consists of a dense cluster of some 1,600 limestone monolithic islands each topped with thick jungle vegetation, rising spectacularly from the ocean. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves. Here are 5 famous caves and islands you should visit when you come to Ha Long Bay.
Dark and Bright Cave
The Dark and Bright cave, also known as the Day and Night grotto is not only known for the stunning limestone structure at every turn but also for its interesting natural habitat. On the cliff one still find traces of fossils of fresh-water snails, proof that the cave was inhabited thousands of years ago.
The Dark Cave is quite long and dark, requiring visitors to be equipped with flashlights so they can explore its mysterious beauty. The Bright Cave, on the other hand, is the complete opposite, well lit by sunlight passing through gaps in the rock walls and ceiling, making it truly beautiful to go through as the water surface gently glitters under the sunlight.
The best way to go through these two caves is by kayak. Imagine yourself gently cruising through its arched entrances, feasting your eyes on the impressive stone walls that surround you. Just wait until you witness the best part of the trip, the stunning lake that both grottos lead to. You have to see it to believe it!
Sealife Legend Cruises invite you to visit the Dark and Bright Caves either by kayak or rowed there by local people.
Dau Go Cave (Wooden Stakes Cave)
Đầu Gỗ Cave is proudly listed in the world famous tourism book Merveille de Monde published in France in 1938, which presents the most beautiful tourist attractions in the world. The Đầu Gỗ Cave is known as “Grotte des Merveilles” (Cave of Wonders).
The entrance to Dau Go Cave is a hole in the middle of a cliff. The inside of the cave is divided into three main compartments. The outer compartment is domed and full of light. Its ceiling is like a giant mural featuring lively scenes of wild elephants, deer and lions sitting in dynamic postures. Below the ceiling is a whole forest of multi-colored and multi-shaped stalagmites. A huge stone pillar with a perimeter of over ten metres stands in the middle of the cave. You will see images of clouds, phoenixes, dragons, dancers, flowers and vines. The first compartment is connected to the second compartment by a narrow gate. Rock paintings in the second compartment are more brilliant. In the cave’s dim light, clusters of rocks and flowers seem to appear or vanish in a flash.
Sung Sot Cave (Surprise Cave, Halong)
First discovered by the French in 1901, the early visitors named it “Grotte des Surprises” because of its surprising beauty, Sung Sot Cave is located on Bon Hon Island, considered to be the centre of Halong Bay.
Setting foot in Sung Sot Cave, tourists quickly realise that the cave has a very small area. However, when they pass through a rocky slot and enter, they will be surprised by the huge expanse within.
Going deep inside Sung Sot Cave, there are many surprising scenes waiting for you to explore such as stalactites with special shapes, an old banyan tree with luxuriant foliage, dinosaurs, seabears, etc. Reaching the highest peak of the cave, tourists have the opportunity to admire the beautiful landscapes of royal gardens and clear water lakes, with some types of trees and birds living here. In addition, the cave is often disturbed by monkeys searching for fruit, giving tourists an unexpected bonus.
Bo Hon Island, the home of Luon Cave, sits starkly alone in the middle of the bay. Luon Cave is another one of the Halong Bay caves that is only accessible by kayak, making it a great choice for those looking for a more hands-on adventure and the chance to explore at their own speed.
The craggy cliffs, flowering orchids and ancient trees of Bo Hon Island make the landscape quite spectacular, but what sets this island apart is its population of golden monkeys that can be seen swinging up and down the sides of the cliff. If you fancy leaving the cruise ship behind and taking your experience into your own hands, hop in a kayak and paddle through Luon Cave.
Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba island is located in Hai Phong city. It is about 10 km South East of Halong Bay. Many tourists love to trek into Cat Ba national park or take a cruise to visit Lan Ha Bay islets, beaches and floating villages.
Cat Ba is the place where the forest and the sea blend together, creating a one of a kind landscape. Coming to this beautiful island, visitors are not only bathed in cool blue beaches, but also can explore mysterious nature through primitive forests on the island. Cat Ba National Park is extensive with 15,200 hectares of tropical forests full of exotic flora and fauna.
Cat Ba Island is the giant green carpet that contains many mysterious and attractive features The Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve is now recognised by UNESCO as one of the most important biosphere reserves in the world.
When to go to Ha Long Bay?
The best time to visit this area is from March to May and from September to November. During these months, the weather is largely dry and quite pleasant, especially if you are not used to heat and humidity. At this time, you’ll also find the largest variety of interesting activities available, so if you’re planning on spending a few days and trying plenty of different things, this is the time to go.
How to get to Ha Long Bay?
If you’re looking for a luxury boat trip in Ha Long Bay that takes you to pristine destinations, try Sealife Legend cruises. Premium facilities coupled with a professional team make this trip a winner. Also, you can enjoy a whole lot of interesting activities on board such as cooking, squid fishing, or even tai chi and musical performances!
With more than 20 years experience in operating overnight cruises in Halong Bay, Sealife Group, formerly Huong Hai Halong, is known as one of the most reputable and traditional oriented Halong cruise brand names.
Sealife Group enchants their guests with a “true experience” due to their deep and historical understanding of local destinations. They are the forefathers of the Halong Bay cruise.
Sealife Group currently owns three cruise ships ranging from mid-range to top-endluxury including one Sealife Cruise ship, a pair of Sealife Legend Cruise ships and two mid-range Sealife Cruise ship.
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