Legend of Halong Bay: Uncover the mystery of a stunning beauty

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halong bay legends

Halong Bay, located in northern Vietnam, is a breathtaking natural beauty. It has long been renowned for its stunning landscape, gorgeous limestones, and pristine beaches—truly an icon of the world’s natural treasures. But did you know that many myths and fairy tales are hidden behind this beauty? In this article, CruiseInHalongBay.com will give you a different perspective on Halong Bay, a land of legends and mysteries.


Legend of Halong Bay and the original of its name


Halong Bay is a breathtaking natural wonder located off the coast of northern Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin. The name “Halong” means “descending dragon” in Vietnamese, and the bay is claimed to have been formed by a dragon that fell into the sea, causing the water to rise and build the thousands of limestone islands and islets that dot the bay.

So, where did the dragon come from and why is it in the area? The legend of Ha Long has an answer for everything.

Long ago, the area was known as An Bang, Luc Thuy (Green Waters), or Van Don rather than Halong Bay.

Halong Bay scenery
Halong Bay is used to be known under different names

According to locals, Vietnam had to fight numerous invaders from the north in the 17th century. The Jade Emperor from Heaven had sent his soldiers, a dragon family, to aid the Vietnamese people defend their country.

The dragon family began fighting intruders by spitting out a large amount of jade and diamond from their mouth. These jade and jewel quickly transformed into islands and islets, forming a thick layer of wall and preventing intruders from attacking. Furthermore, the invaders’ ships collided with these islets and sank into the sea. Vietnam has defeated the invaders thanks to the dragon family’s magic.

The dragon family decided not to return to heaven after the war but rather to stay on earth and continue to protect the land while taking in the natural beauty and friendliness of the locals.

The region where the Mother Dragon landed is known as “Halong Bay,” which means “Descending Dragon.” Another place, an extension of Halong Bay, where the dragon children show respect and care for their mother is known as “Bai Tu Long Bay.” A little further away, around 104 kilometres from Halong Bay, is an island called “Bach Long Vy,” which translates as “the tail of the white dragon,” and is thought to be where the dragon children wiggle their tails.

So, in general, the fairy tale explains that all of the beautiful islands and islets we see now are the product of the Dragon Family’s sorcery during the conflict. To honor the god and the dragons, the locals decided to name the place after this mythology.

The legend of the Halong Bay dragon is just one of many myths and folklore that surround this fascinating location. However, there is a scientific explanation for the bay’s distinct geological development. The water, wind, and rain eroded the limestone cliffs over millions of years, resulting in the spectacular scenery we see today.

Whatever the truth is, Halong Bay is a genuinely amazing destination that continues to captivate visitors from all over the world.


And others fairy tales of the bay


The Tale of the Fighting Cock – A funny tale


While cruising around the Bay, you may come across a famous islet that resembles two cocks facing each other. It’s “Fighting Cock” Islet.

The islet has an intriguing backstory. According to locals, the Jade Emperor, in addition to the Dragon family, sent a couple of Cocks down to Earth during the conflict with invaders.

cock fighting islet
Cock Fighting islet – Source: Internet

When these fighting cocks arrived on Earth, they were so taken aback by the beauty of the surroundings that they stood still and forgot about their mission. Their standing was so long that they eventually turned into islets like the ones we see now. What a silly legend, but the fame and beauty of this island cannot be denied.


The Fairy Tale of Dau Go Cave


There are several caves of magical beauty in Halong Bay. Their magnificence is so incredible that locals believe there is a legend behind each one of them. One of them is Dau Go Island. Dau Go, which translates to “Wooden Head,” is a well-known island located approximately 3 kilometres from Tuan Chau Marina and 6 kilometres from Bai Chay.

There are three different tales about how the island got its name.

The first one is about history. According to legend, the Vietnamese were battling against Mongol invasions in the 13th century. Tran Hung Dao, the Vietnamese army’s general, knew the Mongols were planning an invasion across the Bach Dang rivers, so he devised a very clever strategy.

Dau Go Cave
Dau Go Cave in Halong Bay – Source: Internet

He made the decision to plant a large number of wooden spears at the bottom of the rivers. When the tides rose, these spears were hidden. Tran Hung Dao then enticed the Mongols to pursue him to the location.

The tides had receded, revealing the spears, but it was too late for the Moggols, who were caught in the heart of the trap. As a result, their ship crashed into the spears and sank. Tran Hung Dao won in his battle.

Locals claimed that Tran Hung Dao kept his spears at Dau Go. He pronounced it Dau Go Island as a cover for Giau Go Island, which translates as “Island that kept the wood.”

The second legend explained that due to its ideal position, local fishermen chose the island as a hiding place during the storm. They have repaired their ships during their stay on the island. As a result of this fixing, many wooden pieces were scattered around the island, prompting the locals to call Dau Go after this event.

The final tale is based on the cave shape. From a distance, the cave appears to be a massive wooden tree, hence it was named after that. That is why there is Dau Go Cave.


Thien Cung Cave legend


Thien Cung Cave another cave in Ha Long Bay, located only about 4km from Dau Go island.

According to folklore, the area was once home to a Dragon King. This King was madly in love with his queen, May, and set up magnificent parties and weddings in the cave for 7 days and 7 nights. Stalactites and stalagmites had been carved into gleaming diamonds and artistic decorations.

Thien Cung Cave
Thien Cung Cave is thought to be a wedding palace of the God and his Queen – Source: internet

Following their happy wedding, the Dragon King and his queen raised 100 offspring. Local people claim that the Queen bathed with her children in three huge pools in Thien Cung Cave. When the children reached adulthood, Queen May sent half of them to different parts of Vietnam to help the natives by creating villages, while Dragon King and the other children remained in Halong to continue watching over and ruling the territory.

When visiting the cave, you will see numerous spectacular stalactites and stalagmites. According to locals, it was the remnants and mark of Dragon King and his wife’s wedding.

So, what we can see here is that the beauty of the place is so unbelievable that the locals at the time couldn’t believe it. That’s why they invented a mystery and a story to explain it.

Read more at: Thien Cung Cave: Journey into the Mystical World

Legend of Trinh Nu Cave (Virgin Cave) & Trong Cave – a sad love story


Trinh Nu Cave and Trong Cave are two of Halong Bay’s most famous caves. They, too, have stories to tell.

Unlike other legends, these two caves portrayed a heartfelt love story.

Legend has it that a beautiful girl once lived in an impoverished fishing village. She was forced to work for a wealthy guy in the town due to her poverty. The wealthy man adored her and attempted to marry her as his second wife. The girl flatly refused it, claiming she already had a boyfriend.

The rich man, furious at being denied, has sent her to a deserted island on a stormy night. After being abandoned on the island, the girl quickly passed away and turned into a stone statue. The island then got the name Trinh Nu Cave. When you visit the cave, you will notice a statue of a girl in the center, facing the sea as if she is waiting for her boyfriend.

Trinh Nu Cave
Trinh Nu Cave & Trong Cave tells a touching story about love

Her lover, was fishing in the sea when he heard the news. He was trying to get to her. But when he got closer, the storm scattered his ship. He landed on another island.

He can still see his lover gazing for him from a distance. The young man threw a stone towards the mountains and screamed to let his girl know he was there.

However, the fierce storm drowned out his voices and efforts. He’s trying till the very last second before becoming exhausted and turning into a stone. It is known as Trong Cave.Inside the cave, there is also a statue of a young facing Trinh Nu Cave, as though he wishes to be close to his sweetheart.

Trinh Nu Cave and Trong Cave, located about 700 meters apart, tell a sad love story of two young people who can’t get to each other and appear to add to the beauty of the area another atmosphere. Despite the heartbreaking ending legends, these two caves are still among the most worthwhile locations in the area.


Cat Ba Island Legend


Cat Ba Island is the largest of the Halong Bay islands. The island is home to a big national park and, of course, a legend.

Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba Island – Source: Internet

When the army men chose an island as a barrack (Cat Ong Island, which means “the island of men”), their wives and mothers chose Cat Ba Island (Lady Island) to settle there. Women on Cat Ba Island prepare food and supplement  in order to send to their beloved husband in the front line. That is how the island of Cat Ba earned its name.



Halong Bay is a place of natural beauty and cultural significance. The legends and myths that surround the bay add to its mystique and make it a fascinating destination for travelers. Whether you believe in the tales or not, there is no denying the magic of Halong Bay and the wonders that await those who visit.

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