Out of hundreds caves in Halong Bay, Vietnam, Sung Sot Cave or Surprising Cave is probably the most well known name. And it’s not being famous for no reason. It’s safe to say that Sung Sot is one of the most magnificent caves in Halong Bay, with massive stalactites and stalagmites as well as many stunning rock formations that took root thousands of years ago. The cave has also won numerous notable travel awards for its “surprising” beauty. In this post, we’ll guide you on a journey through the magnificent Sung Sot Cave and let see what you should expect when visiting it.
Sung Sot or Surprising Cave is a familiar name to any travelers when they doing their research about Halong Bay. The cave is located on Bo Hon Island, approximately 14 kilometers from Tuan Chau Port in Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam. It’s is also a part of the Halong Bay core region, which has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site on 1994.
Sung Sot, also known as Surprising in English, was named by a French explorer who set foot on the island in 1901. The explorer was so taken with the beauty and gorgeousness of the cave at the time that he named it “Grotte de la surprise,” which translates as “the cave of surprise” However, it wasn’t until 40 years later, in 1993, that the cave was opened to the public, allowing them to confirm the accuracy of this exclaim. And Sung Sot Cave indeed, keeps surprising visitors until this day, becoming one of the most worthwhile attractions in Halong Bay.
The “surprising beauty” of Sung Sot Cave
Once you step foot on Bo Hon Island, where the cave located, your first impression will be of stunning mountains covered in thick green forest. Don’t worry, the surprise is just ahead. To get to Sung Sot Cave, you have to climb about 200 stone steps to the cave entrance. As you climb higher, you’ll get a better glimpse of Halong bay’s magnificent splendor. The cave entrance is fairly narrow, has a low attitude, and can only accommodate one person at a time. However, don’t judge a book by its cover. What’s within this little entrance is about to be “surprising.”
Sung Sot Cave has a total area of almost 10,000m2, 30m high, and is located 25m above sea level. The cave is divided into 2 chambers, each with unique traits and beauty.
After passing through the narrow entrance, you’ll reach the 1st chamber. With just 300m2, this chamber appears to be quite small. But the beauty of it cannot be underestimated. The entire chamber is resembles a “Opera hall.” On the roof, shimmering stalagmite and stalactites formed into various shapes make you think of a wonderful “chandelier.” Next to them are small dents gently carved by nature’s hands, giving the impression that the roof has been delicately decorated. In the corner of the chamber, you could find a small pond full of crystal waters. For thousands of years, water has been dripping from the openings in the roof, giving sound and cooling to the chamber.
Following the “Opera hall,” you’ll need to go down a narrow stone road lit up by many lamps. After passing through another little door, you’ll be taken aback by an immediate expansion into a vast space. This is when you’re in the 2nd chamber. Comparing to the first one, this chamber is nearly 5 times larger in size, and could hold up to thousands of people.
Surrounding the chambers are plenty of rock formations in various shapes, from the typical things like animals, chairs, tables, etc. to the fantastical imaginary like dragons, gods, or fairies. You’ll also notice several ponds full of water dotting the chambers, which locals claimed were a result of a battle between Giong God – a Vietnam guardian god – and invaders thousands of years ago. All of the rocks and ponds are harmoniously placed next to each other, creating a majestic and gorgerous setting that feels like a heaven on Earth.
If you keep up with the stone road and get up to the cave’s exit, you’ll find the last surprise “Royal Garden,” which includes a mini-ecosystem of crystal-clear waters, a lake, lush green plants, and the chirping of the birds—”frequent visitors” to the cave.
That being said, the journey through Sung Sot Cave will take you from one surprising to another, portraying a composition of modest entrances to tremendous space, and keeping you surprised all the way through with its surreal beauties inside. It’s definitely a must-see cave in Halong Bay.
Best time to visit in Sung Sot Cave
You could visit Sung Sot Cave at anytime of the year. However, the best time to visit Sung Sot Cave in Halong Bay is from October to April. During this time, the weather is generally pleasant with cooler temperatures and lower humidity. Traveling during this period also help you to avoid the massive local tourists crowd.
As Sung Sot Cave is located in Halong Bay, You could take a look at our detailed guide about weather and best time to visit Halong Bay in this article: Best time to Visit Halong Bay
How to get there
As it’s located in the middle of the bay, by boat or cruise are the only option to visit Sung Sot Cave.
By day boat
Taking a day boat from Tuan Chau Marina should be the most convenient and cost-effective way. You could buy tickets for Halong Travel Route 2, which includes a visit to Sung Sot Cave in addition to Ti Top Island, Beautiful caves like Bo Nau Cave, Me Cung Cave, Trinh Nu Cave, and Luon Cave.
Besides, you’ll need to hire a boat to travel to Sung Sot Cave. A sharing group boat normally cost 200,000vnd per person which will take you around the bay for 6 – 8 hours. These boat will depart every 1 hour, daily from 09:00.
If you opt to a more private way, you can rent the whole boat for yourself with the cost of 1,800,000vnd (70USD) – 2,000,000vnd (80USD) for 6 hours. That way, you could leave at any time you’d prefer.
This is the best way to see Halong Bay’s features and Sung Sot Cave. Typically, overnight cruises schedule is included a visit to all popular attractions like Sung Sot or Ti Top , food while traveling, and room – just like any hotels, on board. In addition to sightseeing, you could also engage in other exciting water sports like kayaking or swimming.
It’s also an extremely convenient way if you’re staying in Hanoi as they’re normally offering a package included transfer, with pick up at your hotel door.
The cost might vary, but ranging from 100USD – 200USD per person, depending on your budget.
Below are some overnight cruise offer a visit to Sung Sot Cave:
Destination: Lan Ha Bay – Halong Bay – Cat Ba Island
Free Kayaking, Private Balcony
Destination: Halong – Lan Ha Bay – Cat Ba Island
2023 promotion – Only $130/person with free kayaking!
Scarlet Pearl Cruise
Destination: Halong – Lan Ha Bay – Dark & Bright Cave
Superb Early Bird Promotion – Only $170/person