Amazing caves in Halong Bay
The limestone of Halong Bay has resulted in beautiful karst cave systems that are ready to be explored by eager tourists. Depending on the itinerary, no cruise trip to Halong Bay is complete without a visit to one of these spectacular caves.
Sung Sot Cave
Sung Sot Cave (Surprise Cave) - Halong Bay
Located on Bo Hon Island, Sung Sot Cave (Surprise Cave) is one of the most popular caves in Halong Bay. Sheltered by natural vegetation and a steep descent, visitors are surprised by the grand scale of this cave. Comprising two chambers, the first chamber — also known as the waiting room — has a squarish shape and is 30 metres high. The walls, eroded by Mother Nature, are completely smooth. A narrow passage leads to another chamber so large it could hold thousands of people at once.
The second, inner chamber, also known as the serene castle, is reached by a path some 3 metres wide. This chamber takes its name from formations that are shaped like guards or sentries. In the middle of the cave, another formation resembles a general commanding his troops. Off to the side, another entrance 6 metres in height reflects light from water outside the cave, causing the formations to seem alive.
A key feature of this cave system is a grotto with a large pond that attracts a variety of bird, animal and plant life. Monkeys often frequent the area, searching for fruit.
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Dau Go Cave
Dau Go Cave - Halong Bay
Dau Go Cave is located in the west of Halong Bay, about 3 kilometres to south-east of Tuan Chau Marina. The 17 metres high, 12 metres wide cave covers 5,000m2 and because it is elevated above sea level, visitors exiting the cave are rewarded with stunning views of Halong Bay. While the limestone formations are lit by coloured lights, natural light also permeates the rock, giving the cave a magical quality.
Legend has it that the cave is connected with the victory of Supreme Commander Tran Hung Dao over the Mongols in the 13th century. Wooden stakes (after which the island and cave are named after) were hidden during high tides, then transferred to Bach Dang River to trap and destroy enemy ships. Others say the island — and hence cave — is named after its shape: a wooden stake.
In 1918, King Khai Dinh visited Dau Go Cave with French Governor, Albert Pierre Saurat. The King was so taken with the beauty of the cave that he wrote a poem, which is engraved on a stele and placed inside the cave.
Luon Grotto - Halong Bay
Also located on Bo Hon Island is Luon Grotto, which can only be accessed by boat. To enter the grotto, visitors pass under an arch around 100 metres in length, 3 metres wide, and depending on the tide, 2.5 metres to 4 metres in height.
The grotto is actually a group of islands that have formed a brackish lake around 1 km2. An arched entrance, hewn out of the limestone by a patient sea over millions of years, welcomes visitors. Sheer cliffs plunge into the lake, and surrounding mountains protect the water.
The lake and its surrounds support a myriad of plant life and animal species, including fragrant, delicate orchids, weeping Benjamin figs and cheeky monkeys. The brackish lake is populated by numerous species of shrimp, fish, crab, cuttlefish and squid.
Thien Cung Cave
Thien Cung Cave - Halong Bay
Thien Cung Cave - also known as Heavenly Palace Cave- is located 4 kilometres from Dau Go Island, and is considered one of the most beautiful caves in Halong Bay. The cave system covers an area of 10,000m2 and has a complex interior featuring a stunning array of stalactites and stalagmites, formed by water seeping through the limestone over millions of years.
The cave is some 50 metres above Halong Bay, and is reached by climbing a flight of stairs, that while steep, also allow sweeping views across the bay. Walking through spacious caverns, imaginative visitors can see all kinds of objects in the limestone: fish, birds, animals and humans. These objects are illuminated by strategically placed coloured lights, which add to the magic of the cave.
Dark & Bright Cave
Dark and Bright (also known as Day and Night) grotto is not only known for the stunning limestone structure at every turn but also for the interesting natural habitat. On the cliff one still find traces of fossils of fresh-water snails, which prove that the cave was inhabited thousands of years ago. Monkeys run to and fro in groups, benjamin fig trees shade the landscape and many orchids hang their sweet-scented flowers.
Not many attractions are blessed with such a stunning beauty and diverse ecosystem as Ha Long Bay, and the Day and Night Grotto rightfully deserves as a an inevitable part of the Heritage site.
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