Halong Bay is home to many spectacular caves that are well-known for its unique values.
Years after years, the geological values and beauty of the caves have been attracting tourists from all around the world.
Below is the list of famous caves in Halong Bay that are worth a visit.
Sung Sot (Surprise) Cave
The number one to be listed should be Sung Sot (Surprise) cave which is also the largest cave in Halong Bay. In peak season, the cave might be very crowded.
That is to be expected since it is the most popular cave in the bay attracting a large number of tourists every day. But if the crowd does not upset you, you will fall in love with the beauty of this cave.
Sung Sot (Surprise) cave which is also the largest cave in Halong Bay
Surprise Cave’s 10,000 square meters of space consists of two major chambers that require a little walk to reach. Once approaching the cave’s entrance, you will be surprised by its thousands of stalactites and stalagmites. The first chamber has its size and shape that can be compared to a theater hall.
It features hundreds of wonderful stalactites hanging from the ceiling. A narrow passageway leads to the second chamber which is comparable to a stadium. Here natural light brightens the roomy surface enough to hold thousands of people.
Tien Ong (Fairy Godfather) Cave
Boasting a system of stalagmites and stalactites which are thousand years old, Tien Ong Cave has soon become an attraction in Halong Bay since it is first opened to tourists in 2010. This cave owns archaeological values and stunning interior scenery.
Tien Ong Cave has soon become an attraction in Halong Bay
Tien Ong Cave is situated on Cai Tai Island about 20km from the Halong center, 5-7km from Cat Ba island (Hai Phong). The cave is 5m above sea level, 50m deep, and has a large entrance of 50m in width and 10m in height.
The entrance leads to a 1,000-square-meter area inside which is almost split into two chambers by a tall rustic stone pillar. The cave is home to stone artifacts that dated to 10,000 - 2,000 BC. Fossilized animal bones, pottery shards, and ancient tools indicating inhabitant around 8,000 - 10,000 years ago have been found in the cave.
The system of stalactites hanging down from the ceiling and stalagmites rising from the ground inside the cave will amaze you. These stalactites and stalagmites appear in many forms and shapes.
The most special shape is a block of stalactites looking like an old man with a gentle face, long hair, and beard. The image resulted in the name of the cave: Tien Ong (fairy godfather).
Thien Cung (Heavenly Palace) Cave
Thien Cung (lit. Heavenly Palace) is a cave placed on the southwestern part of Halong Bay. At a height of 25 meters above the sea level, the cave covers an area of about 10,000 square meters, deep inside a thick forest. The grotto is like an art museum with complicated interior structure, many floors, and high ceiling.
Thien Cung Cave on Halong Bay
Discovering Thien Cung Cave’s craggy cliffs is not an easy task. You first need to pass a narrow gate then a 130-meter-long girth to get into the cave. Step inside; you will be astonished by the very animated and splendid stalactites and stalagmites.
On the wall of the cave are impressive pictures of birds, fish, flowers, and even scenes of human life. Stalactites falling from the immeasurably high roof create a natural stone curtain. In the center of the grotto stand four big pillars supporting the roof of the "Heaven Palace".
At the last partition of the grotto are three small ponds of clear water with a natural gushing stream of water babbling throughout the year.
Dau Go (Wooden Stakes) Cave
Dau Go Cave is located on Dau Go Island, 27 meters above the sea level, next to Thien Cung Cave. This cave covers an area of 5000 square meters. Seen from afar, the entrance of the grotto is like a jellyfish with a width of 17 meters and a height of 12 meters.
Dau Go Cave on Halong Bay
After 90 steps up to the top, you reach the entrance of the cave. Entering the cave, you will see a magnificent world of stalactites and stalagmites presented in various sizes and shapes.
The grotto can be divided into three main chambers. In the first chamber stands a colossal pillar supporting the 25m-high roof.
Crossing the first chamber, through a narrow passage, you enter the second chamber. There is just a little sunshine that can leak into the cave which creates a mysterious scene inside the chamber. This chamber is narrow and the stalactites are smaller but more graceful.
Here you will feel like being in a pagoda with a monk in meditation. The third chamber is larger featuring a well of clear water and high stone columns.
The name of Wooden Stakes came from the resistance war against the Yuan – Mongolian aggressors. In a decisive battle, Tran Hung Dao planted many ironwood stakes on the riverbed of Bach Dang River. During high tide, the stakes were hidden out of sight.
As a result, the Mongol fleet was trapped and defeated. The remaining wooden stakes found in the cave have given it the present name.
Luon (Tunnel) Cave
Luon (Tunnel) Cave is located in the northeastern part of Bo Hon Island, nearly 1 km from Sung Sot Cave. For those who’d love to go kayaking, Luon Cave is the one to go.
This is the reason why Luon Cave has been listed as one of the top tourist attractions in Halong Bay in recent years. This cave is often included in the itinerary of tourist cruises in Halong Bay.
Luon Cave on Halong Bay
Unlike many other caves, this cave is only accessible on a bamboo boat or small kayak. That is because the cave has a gate with a limited height of 4 m wide, 100 m long and from 2.5 to 4 m high depending on the tide level.
After passing the natural gate with beautiful stalactites, a stunning round lake with emerald water appears in your eyes. The hidden lake is 1 sq.km and surrounded by limestone cliffs. Cycads, Benjamin fig trees, ferns, and orchids with sweet-scented flowers growing on the mountains create great scenery.
Kayaking on Luon Cave Halong Bay
On the cliff, there are traces of fossils of fresh-water snails, a proof of the human inhabitant. Going around the lake, you will have a chance to see golden monkeys jigging up and down on the trees around the cliffs. Under the water’s surface is a vibrant life of shrimp, fish, crab, and cuttlefish, etc.
Ho Dong Tien (Fairy Lake) Cave
Ho Dong Tien (Fairy Lake Cave) is well-known as one of the most beautiful caves in Halong Bay. At first glance, Ho Dong Tien Cave is not special and in a tide, a third of the entrance will be covered by seawater.
Kayaking in Ho Dong Tien - Halong Bay
The cave is divided into two chambers. The first chamber has a very narrow entrance allowing only one person to go through at a time. Passing the entrance you will see a spacious cave with beautiful stalactites hanging down from the ceiling.
In the center of the chamber are many stalagmites linking the ground with the ceiling. The cave's second chamber leads you to a small shallow lake. Legend has it that beautiful fairies used to come here to bath and sleep. The story has given the cave its name of "Fairy Lake Cave".
It’s quite dark inside the cave and water leaking down from the ceiling makes the ground so slippery. Thus, to discover the whole cave, water-resistant trekking shoes are recommended. This will be a memorable experience in Halong Bay.
Dark and Bright Cave
Cruise 2 km further from the Surprise Cave, you will find a perfect destination for adventurous visitors: Bright and Dark Caves. The two special caves are located in a quiet area near Cat Ba National Park, on the border of Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay, and Lan Ha Bay.
Bright Cave is formed by an enclosed group of islets which connects to the sea via a 4 m wide, 100 m long, and 3 m high mouth. Due to the limited height, Bright Cave is only accessible by kayaks or small boats.
Bright and Dark Caves in Lan Ha Bay
Passing the lovely angled passage, you see a serene round lake surrounded by limestone cliffs. The lake is like a colorful garden with Benjamin fig trees and orchids spreading their blooms.
Unlike Bright Cave with close lake, Dark Cave is long and dark like a tunnel which requires a torch to light the way. The Dark Cave is not always available for visiting since it can be engulfed by the tide.
Me Cung (Maze) Cave
Me Cung Cave is located on Lom Bo Island, at a height of 25 m above the sea level. Seen from afar, the cave's entrance is like the roof of a house carved into the island's slopes.
Me Cung Cave is reached via a narrow crack allowing only one person to go through at a time. Hiding behind the crack is an amazing cave with many chambers, colorful stalactites, and stalagmites. Stalagmites look like lions and bear playing with each other. Stalactites even create a stone curtain.
Me Cung Cave in Halong Bay
Slowly walk into the cave, you find a dim light which signals the path to another entrance. Following the path then climbing up several stone stairs, you get out of the cave and find yourself on the top of the mountain.
Here a large lake surrounded by mountains and old trees appears in your eyes. The lake is calm and its water is blue and smooth as a mirror. The lake is a peaceful home to numerous types of creatures like fish, shrimps, octopuses, algae, seaweed, and coral.
Me Cung Cave in Halong Bay
The cave is also valued for its geological formation, where significant prehistoric remains have been found. Piles of freshwater seashells in the cave indicate that previous inhabitants lived here. These residents are believed to live here 7,000 to 10,000 years ago, in a new culture in the Stone Age.
Thien Canh Son (Heavenly Mountain) Cave
Thien Canh Son Cave is located at the center of the World Heritage Halong Bay. The cave features a wild and mysterious beauty from the incredible stalactites and stalagmites. To get into the cave, you need to go through a pathway with bushy trees and stones.
Thien Canh Son Cave on Halong Bay
Once reaching the cave, you will feel like being at heaven, that's the origin of the name. Thien Canh Son can be divided into three chambers with many rock statues appearing in shapes of seals and flowers.
Watching Halong Bay from Thien Canh Son Cave
You will see naturally carved images resembling a lotus or an elephant. Under the lights, the stalactites sparkle like natural lamps or stars.
Drum (Trong) Cave
Drum Cave is one of the most famous caves in Halong Bay. The cave belongs to the cave system of Bo Hon Island which is easy to recognize by its 2 wide gates on the two sides of the cliff. Standing inside, you can hear the sound like drums which is created by the wind blowing in the slot of rocks then bounced back walls.
Also known as "Male Cave", Drum Cave is famous for not only its beauty but also its folk legend with the opposite Trinh Nu (Virgin) Cave. In the eastern gate of Drum Cave stands a stone statue that looks like a man looking to the Trinh Nu Cave where stays another one looking like a lying girl with long hair and crying eyes.
It is a tragic love story about a girl who fell in love with a fisherman. But her parents disagreed with their love and forced her to marry another wealthier man. Did not want to marry the richer man, she escaped and hid in Trinh Nu Cave to wait for her lover.
See Halong Bay from the Drum cave
This news came to the fisherman, he quickly rowed a boat to find her but the storm hit his boat into Drum Cave. From the two caves, they could hear each other voices but could not reach. Finally, they both died in despair. The two young people then turned into the two statues in the caves.
The caves, nowadays, with fishermen, are their houses on the sea and with couples, are an eternal symbol of love.
All caves in Halong Bay feature natural beauty but each has its own characteristics and interesting legends that make them worth a visit. Once coming there, you will have a chance to enjoy a bit of peace and quietness during your vacation and take nice photos for an unforgettable memory.