Thien Cung Cave
Overview Thien Cung Cave
On mentioning Halong Bay, there will be a list of amazing places that are worth a visit. As for the caves to see in Halong Bay, perhaps Thien Cung (Heaven Palace) Cave is the worthiest legend-filled of all. Its unique winding pathway surrounded by thick forest will at first give you a feeling of adventure.
Located on the south-west side of Halong Bay, 4 km from the harbor, Thien Cung Cave is well known as one of the most beautiful caves in the region. The 10,000 sqm dry cavern is 25 meters above the sea level and houses a complex inner structure with high ceilings.
Legend of Thien Cung Cave
Thien Cung Cave carries a special magical story-telling past of Vietnamese culture. The indigenous peoples of Halong Bay have told an ancient story about Thien Cung Cave over generations.
Thien Cung Cave in Halong Bay
The story has it that the cave was proudly chosen to hold the lavish wedding party of Dragon King and Ms. Cloud for 7 days and 7 nights. All kinds of animals and genies were invited to share happiness with the couple. Small dragons flew through the stalactites and stalagmites.
Elephants danced happily. Snakes twined themselves around trees. The atmosphere was animated and lively.
After the marriage, the King and Queen gave birth to 100 children and lived in the cave. The Queen raised the kids and the King protected Halong Bay’s inhabitants from invaders. When the children were grown, half of them stayed in Halong Bay with the King as guardians, the rest left with the Queen to protect other areas of Vietnam.
Discovery of Thien Cung Cave
As time goes by, the Dragon King’s Heavenly Palace was forgotten and only remembered through stories. The forest grew over and cover the entrance to the palace.
Not until 1993 when some fishermen chanced upon the cave to hide from a storm, they were amazed to discover the ancient caverns of myth.
Inside Thien Cung Cave
Now you can wander the palace of the Dragon King yourself. The only way to reach Thien Cung Cave is via cruises and a winding pathway with a bit of a climb up a set of slippery stairs. The way is surrounded by a thick forest that ever threatens to grow back and once again obscure the cavern.
It’s not an easy task to conquer but make the effort and you will be rewarded with a worthwhile beautifully unique cave.
Overview Thien Cung Cave in Halong Bay
After passing a narrow gate, the cave's 130-meter-long girth opens up. The interior of the cave is like an art museum with a variety of statues and reliefs. There are 10,000 square meters to explore and the deeper you go inside, the more splendid stalactites and stalagmites you see.
They are in animated shapes of dragon, elephant, snakes... All of them represent the mythical guests who attended the wedding party of Dragon King.
In the cave's center chamber stand four big stone pillars supporting the roof of the heavenly palace. From the floor to the roof, you see many images of birds, fish, flowers, and even scenes of human life that seem to live in the stone.
The stalactite's density makes a natural stone curtain hanging from the high ceilings. Somewhere sound up the Dragon King’s beating drums signaling his golden reign. Though these drums are just made by the wind flowing through stone, it is no stretch of the imagination to understand how the stories first began.
Stalactites in the Thien Cung Cave
Keep walking, you enter the last partition of the grotto. Here you see a natural gushing stream of water babbling throughout the year. The water from the stream then ends up in three small ponds.
Getting out of the cave you will be at an impressive vantage peak offering a panoramic view of the bay. Take a short trek back down the set of stairs to return to your starting point. If the Dragon King’s palace has not yet filled you, Halong Bay still has Dau Go (Wooden Stakes) Cave, Sung Sot (Surprising) Cave, or Me Cung (Maze) Cave for you to explore.
Each cave brings its own special story and stunning beauty to offer. While you are here, just let the - legend or not - myths be taken in and spend a moment to appreciate those natural works of art.
Many day cruises include Thien Cung Cave in their itineraries together with some other interesting activities like swimming or kayaking. You can choose from Escape Sails, Phoenix Cruise, Paradise Explorer, or Dragonfly Cruise. The experience you have is certainly a worthwhile one.