If you plan to travel to the north of Vietnam, you must have come across Ha Long Bay in your research, a natural wonder of Vietnam. Cruise around the limestone islands, kayak through remote fishing villages, and climb rock faces that look out to sea. Lots of beautiful spots and fun activities are waiting for you in Ha Long.
In this article, I will reveal the most famous and beautiful caves. There are dozens of caves situated on the many islands around Ha Long Bay which make them a prominent feature of this area. Apart from their distinct beauty, these caves also have interesting Vietnamese legends.
Sung Sot Cave
Situated on Bo Hon island, Sung Sot cave was discovered by the French in 1901 and became one of the most beautiful and biggest caves Ha Long Bay. From the pier, you need to climb 50 stone steps under green foliage to reach the cave entrance which is above 25 meters above sea level.
Next to the entrance, you will see a mysterious figure (with a little imagination of course). Stalactites have formed to create the shape of a horse and a long sword. According to the legend, Thanh Giong, a fairy character popular in Vietnam, helped the villagers to chase away invaders. He flew to the sky shortly after and left his horse and sword to ensure that the invaders did not dare to return. Thanh Giong’s horse footprints later became small ponds in the cave. Once you step into Sung Sot cave, you also step into Vietnam’s very own fairy world.
With an area of over 10,000 square meters, Sung Sot cave is divided into two main compartments and a system of vertical paved roads running from the entrance to the exit. A decorative lighting system is installed around the cave which contributes to its mysterious splendor. The first compartment looks like a large and spacious theater. Stalactites shaped into an elephant, seal, flowers, and leaves appear before your eyes.
To enter the second compartment, you need to walk along a small path. When the stream of light rushes into your eyes, the vast compartment opens up with different fairy scenes. The sun shines through the top of Sung Sot cave to a botanical garden inside the cave. The beauty inside the cave inspires amazement in all who visit. That’s why this cave is named Sung Sot which means “amazed” in Vietnamese.
Thien Cung Cave
Besides Sung Sot cave, Thien Cung cave is also known as one of the most beautiful and biggest caves in Ha Long Bay. Located on Dau Go island, this cave is four kilometers away from the tourist port. After climbing the stone steps under the shadow of green trees on the high cliff and stepping through the narrow cave entrance, the cavity opens up before you.
The deeper you go, the more fanciful scenery appears. The majestic stalactites have the shape of dragons hiding behind the clouds, giant eagles flying into the sky, pythons bending around ancient trees, and beautiful fairies dancing on the cave walls. The sound of water is calming, the small ponds with clear water are relaxing, and the winding path leading to the outside of the bay is stunning. Every detail contributes to creating a little natural palace of heaven. This makes the name of the cave, “palace of heaven” or Thien Cung in Vietnamese.
Dau Go Cave
Another famous cave located on the Dau Go islands is Dau Co cave. This cave has an area of 5,000 square meters. The entrance is 17 meters wide and 12 meters high. Dau Go Cave is located at an altitude of 27 meters above sea level and it’s the same age as Thien Cung cave: about two million years old. The cave has a rich diversity of flora such as moss, ferns, and woody plants which makes it unique among the other caves located in this area.
Dau Go cave is divided into three areas. The first compartment has many stalactites with unique shapes of animals. If you use your imagination, you will see elephants, lions, pythons, turtles, and a fighting cock. In the next area, stalactites create a monumental picture of rock islands on sea waves. The third compartment is even bigger and it contains huge stone columns. In the end and perhaps the most magical, there is a natural well with fresh water that flows all year.
Now you probably want to hear a little bit about its history. Dau Go cave was also named according to an important event in history. In the resistance war against the Yuan army in the 13th century, General Tran Hung Dao hid many ironwood stakes in this cave before plugging them into the bottom of Bach Dang river. After that, the Yuan army suffered a shipwreck and withdrew from Vietnam. This is a famous naval battle in our history. Dau Go means “ironwood stake” in Vietnamese.
Trinh Nu Cave and Trong Cave
Situated on Hon Bo island, Trinh Nu cave is three kilometers away from Sung Sot cave. 750 meters opposite to Trinh Nu cave is Trong cave. Both of these caves are famous because of a touching love story.
According to the legend, a beautiful girl lived with her poor family. Her family worked for a landlord in the area. Once the landlord saw the beautiful daughter, he forced her to be his concubine. However, she refused because she already had a lover who was going fishing to prepare for their wedding. The landlord was angry and exiled her to a deserted island. On a particularly rainy and windy night, the girl was exhausted and petrified. She was hiding in Trinh Nu cave or “virgin” cave in English. In the middle of the cave, there is a statue with the shape of a girl. She lies on the ground with her long hair surrounding her. Her eyes look into the distance as if waiting for her lover.
That fateful and dreary night, her lover found about his lover’s exile. He took his boat out to find her. A big thunderstorm destroyed his boat and he washed over to a deserted island. In the flash of the thunder, he looked out and saw his lover. However, his voice was drowned out by the storm. He later struck stones against the cave wall to let her know that he had arrived. He was working so hard that he started bleeding but he kept hitting until he was exhausted and petrified. This place is Trong cave which has another name, Con Trai cave. Con trai means “the man” in English. At the entrance of Trong cave, you can see a statue of a man facing Trinh Nu cave.
Me Cung Cave
Me Cung cave is situated on Lom Bo island which is two kilometers away from Ti Top island. Behind a small entrance which can only fit one person at a time, the inside of the cave opens up with many cavities. There are stalactites with the shape of a lion, bear, and curtains that decorate the cave wall. You will notice a stream of light in the distance. Follow it to reach the exit. Once you exit the cave, climb a few stone steps, and look down. You will see a huge lake surrounded by a mountain. This is home to many sea creatures. Beside the lake is a botanical garden land with many old trees.
Me Cung cave is also an archaeological relic dating back 7,000 to 10,000 years ago. Thick fossilized snail layers are still attached to the cave entrance. Recently, a fossilized skeleton was discovered in the cave.
Kim Quy Cave
Kim Quy cave is located on Dam Nam island. It’s tall, at its tallest, it reaches up 187 meters high. The cave is 100 meters long and 5 to 10 meters wide. You need to climb up through a small road to enter the cave entrance. Many beautiful stalactites with unique shapes hover over ponds. You can hear the sound of flowing water inside the cave. In the back of the cave, a picture of Bach Dang battle appears in the stalagmites. More than 30 stalagmites march in line like the ironwood stakes plugged into the bottom of Bach Dang river.
In addition, Kim Quy cave is associated with the legend of the Golden Turtle which means Kim Quy in Vietnamese. According to the legend, after the Golden Turtle helped King Le Loi to defeat his enemy, he took back his holy sword and swam to sea. Once he heard that many sea monsters lived here, the Golden Turtle destroyed them all. However, there were too many sea monsters and the Golden Turtle’s power was limited. After trying to eradicate all of them, the Golden Turtle swam to this cave, was exhausted and became forever petrified here. You can see a statue of a sleeping turtle with many wounds in Kim Quy cave.
Now you know a little about the most beautiful caves in Ha Long Bay and their hidden legends. My words do not do these beauties justice. Add them to your checklist in Ha Long Bay. The North of Vietnam also has many other beautiful destinations that are not inferior to Ha Long Bay.