The best part of any trip to Halong Bay is exploring the limestone caves. Water and time have sculpted these natural masterpieces over thousand years, giving them an amazing, beautiful, and enigmatic beauty. Of the hundreds of caves that exist, only about 60 have been found to far, 49 of which are found in the core regions that UNESCO officially recognizes as World Natural Heritage.
In this post, we will explore top 8 most beautiful Halong Bay caves that you should definitely visit.
Surprising Cave, also known by its Vietnamese name Sung Sot Cave, is located on Bo Hon Island, about 14 km southeast of Tuan Chau Port. It’s referred to by many fellow travelers as one of the most beautiful caves in Halong Bay, with an area of nearly 10,000 m2, 30m high, and 25m above sea level.
The cave is divided into two small chambers, each with its own charm. The first chamber has an area of about 300 m2 and looks like an “Opera Hall” in the ocean. The cave ceiling is decorated with stalagmites and stalactites in many different shapes that look like a colorful, sparkling chandelier.
The second chamber has an area about five times larger than the first room and can accommodate up to thousands of people. This room is like an exhibition center, containing many natural masterpieces of stones and stalactites that resemble shapes, such as dragons, gods, fairies, humans, animals, trees, etc. In particular, many of the natural structures in the cave are considered a vestige of Saint Giong, the guardian god of Vietnam.
Thien Cung Cave
Thien Cung Cave is located on Dau Go Island, about 4km from Tuan Chau International Marina, and can only be visited by boat.
Thien Cung in English means “Heavenly Palace” because the cave is covered with a layer of phosphorescence emitting magical light, making it look like the palace of gods and fairies. In addition, according to legend, this is also the residence of the Dragon King, along with his Queen and their 100 children.
This is also one of the largest caves in Halong Bay, with an area of nearly 10,000 m2, divided into three main chambers.
During the journey to explore Thien Cung Cave, the tour guide will tell you about legends related to the Dragon King here. The combination of space, scenery, light, wind sound, and the stories you hear will make you feel like you are attending the wedding of the Dragon King and his wife.
Luon Cave is a small cave located in the northeast of Bo Hon Island, about 13 km from Tuan Chau Marina and 14 km south of Bai Chay Port.
Luon stands out from other caves because its cave floor is submerged below sea level. Therefore, the only way for you to visit this cave is by kayak or small sampan boat. Thus, the cave is an ideal place for those who are passionate about kayaking.
This cave is only about 60m long, 4m wide, and 3m high. When the tide rises, making Luon’s ceiling lower than ever, you must bow their heads to sail through the cave. This action in Vietnamese is called “Luon”, which is also the reason behind the cave’s name. At the end of the cave, you’ll be welcomed by a vast water valley, surrounded by a rich ecosystem of plants, animals, and limestone cliffs.
Tien Ong Cave
Tien Ong Cave (Old God Cave) is located in the center of Cai Tai island, Trai Cave island area, about 18km from Tuan Chau Port and about 16.5 km from Halong International Port.
Half of the caves are full of natural light, while the other half stores giant stalactites that look like an Old God from afar. This is also explained by the cave’s name.
If other caves attract tourists because of their majestic and mysterious natural beauty, the attraction of Tien Ong Cave is its cultural and historical value. According to archaeological studies, this cave is the residence of ancient Vietnamese people of the Soi Nhu culture, dating back about 8,000–10,000 years ago.
Currently, Tien Ong is also the one and only cave used by Halong Bay authorities as a live museum and exhibits more than 200 historical relics proving ancient civilization, such as stone tools, ceramic fragments, animal bone fragments, and especially large amounts of freshwater mollusk sediments.
Dark and Bright Cave
The Dark and Bright Cave is located on Lan Ha Bay, Cat Ba archipelago, in the area bordering Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay. Living up to its name, Dark and Bright is a combination of two caves: Dark Cave (Hang Toi) and Light Cave (Hang Sang). While Dark Cave is under water and not available to visit most of the time, Light Cave is the main attraction of the area, measuring 3 meters in height and 4 meters wide.
Sailing through the Light Cave by kayak or bamboo boat, you’ll be shocked at the end of the journey by a huge green lagoon. The lagoon is a fully unspoiled area, full of emerald waters with a peaceful atmosphere, thanks to the huge limestone mountains that surround it. That’s why a trip to Dark and Bright Cave will become the most relaxing experience you can find in Halong Bay.
Read more: Dark and Bright Cave
Me Cung Cave
Me Cung Cave is located on Lom Bo Island, about 2 km from Tuan Chau Marina. Me Cung means “maze” in English, as it is divided into many levels and small compartments by the complex structure of stone walls inside. When you get into the cave, you’ll have a feeling of being lost in a giant maze, but at the same time, you’ll be in awe of the beauty of the stalagmites and stalactites around you.
The cave is 25m high above sea level and 100 m wide. This cave is likened to a historical museum because there are many archaeological traces of a civilization about 7,000–10,000 years ago, corresponding to the Hoa Binh and Bac Son cultures of ancient Vietnamese people.
While visiting the cave, you can encounter many fossil snail shells clinging to the cave walls, animal bones, seashell and mollusk fossils, etc.
Read more: Me Cung Cave: A magic maze in Halong Bay
Thien Canh Son Cave
Thien Canh Son Cave is located in the Cong Do island conservation area of Bai Tu Long Bay, a less touristy part of Halong Bay. The cave is about 25 km from Bai Chay Port.
The cave’s name in Vietnamese means a heavenly landscape in the mountains. Indeed, it is famous for the pristine beauty of limestone stalactites with many unique shapes, such as lotus flowers, baby elephants, hanging lamps, stone statues, seals, flowers, etc.
In particular, Thien Canh Son Cave is an ideal place to view Bai Tu Long Bay and Halong Bay from above. To get to this cave, you have to climb about 100 stone steps, and from there, a spectacular view will reveal itself in front of your eyes. Therefore, this is a favorite destination for photographers or check-in enthusiasts.
Lastly, Thien Canh Son is a perfect cave if you’d prefer something quiet, as the cave and even its mother bay are far from busy tourist areas like Halong Bay or Lan Ha Bay.
Dau Go Cave
The last on the list is Dau Go, a small cave located on Dau Go Island, about 300m from Thien Cung Cave and about 4 km from Tuan Chau Port. It spans an area of 5000 m2, with 27m above sea level.
In 1938, Merveille de Monde, a French travel magazine, honored Dau Go cave as the Grotte des Merveilles (meaning cave of wonders).
Nature has favored Dau Go Cave to develop a rich flora and fauna system in addition to sculptures made of limestone. Upon arrival at the cave entrance, you may be “welcomed” by a rare species of swallow if you’re lucky.