Hang Trong was named because when the wind blows through its many stalactites and stalagmites, visitors think they can hear the sound of distant drumbeats.
Halong Bay's limestone islands are dotted with caves of all sizes and shapes. Most of these are accessible only by chaerter boat, but some can easily be visited on tour. The most famous and beautiful caves in Halong bay are Sung Sot cave (Amazing cave), Thien Cung cave (Heaven chamber cave), Dau Go cave (Drift wood cave), Trinh Nu cave, Bo Nau cave... and many other cave that lies in Bai Tu Long bay and Lan Ha bay wich is beside Halong bay
2. Surprising (Sung Sot) cave
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Situated in the centre of the UNESCO-declared World Heritage area, the Sung Sot or Surprise Grotto is on Bo Hon Island, and is one of the finest and widest grottoes of Ha Long Bay. Ascending to the grotto, the way is covered by trees and foliage, and consists of great paved stone blocks.
Sung Sot Cave is on the same island with Trinh Nu cave. The path to Sung Sot is quite steep and is lined with shady trees. The cave has 2 chambers. The outer chamber is square and is often referred to as the waiting room. The cave’s ceiling is approximately 30 m high. The walls are almost perfectly smooth as if it was built by man. The walls generate a variety of colors that blend with the setting of the area.
The path to the inner chamber is approximately 3m wide. The inner chamber is known as the serene castle. The formations in the chamber take the form of sentries conversing with one another, animals in varying poses etc. In the middle of the chamber stands a formation which resembles a general surveying his troops.
There is a side entrance which is approximately 6m in height. The light reflected from the moving water outside causes the formations inside the chamber to seemingly come alive. According to the locals, this was the reason the cave was named Sung Sot, from the awe-stricken reaction of the visitors to the cave.
Inside, it is partitioned into two chambers; the first one being similar to a wide theatre hall. Many stalactites hang from the high ceiling, with numerous possible forms and shapes.
A narrow passage leads to the second rooms, where a flow of light meets visitors. The chamber is so immense it could contain thousands of people at one time.
At the deepest point of the grotto, a “royal garden” appears with a clear pond and a seemingly fascinating landscape of mountains. Many birds and plants (benjamin figs, cycads and centenary banyan trees) live here. On nice days groups of monkeys might arrive in search of fruit.
It is situated in the central tourism centre of the bay, as well as Ti Tup Beach, Bo Nau Grotto, Me Cung Grotto and Luun Grotto. French named it “grotte des surprises” (grotto of surprise).
From the wharf, you climb 50 steep stone stairs to the mouth of the grotto, which lies 25 m above the sea level. Going down some 10 stone stairs, you reach the mouth of a grotto. The grotto covers some 10,000 m2. Inside the grotto there have thousands of stalactites and stalagmites along the 500-meter paved passage. Light posts line the passage and serve as signposts and ornaments. The lighting system with elegant styles adds more charm to the beauty of the grotto.
Up in the 30-meter roof of the grotto, one can figure out small, soft and even concave spots, which look like patterns in the ceiling of a theater. A huge piece of stone stands up to the ceiling by the grotto’s mouth. This evidences one of the typical karst-style grottoes with high scientific values.
At the side of the entrance, the rock seems to form the shape of a horse with a long sword. Legend has it, that after having defeated the An aggressors, Thanh Giong (the Saint Giong) helped the population to chase away evil spirits and demons. After this feat, Saint Giong flew to heaven, leaving a stone horse and sword to continue to keep the demons away.
3. Thien Canh Son Caves
The cave is located in the centre of the natural wonder of the world, Bai Tu Long Bay covers an area of 2000 sqm., Thien Canh Son Cave offers a wild and mysterious beauty. This is the reason why we choose to bring tourists here – to discover the geological value of the bay, and to enjoy the strange & unique services for travelers, Indochina Junks & other cruise set up a cosy dinner with family and friends in sparkling candlelight.
In the cave, is a wonderful beauty of stalagmites & stalactites – an image of a lotus, a picture of baby elephant. The ceiling of the cave is covered with a layer of shiny ‘carpets’, numerous sparkling stalactites appear like “hanging lamps”. Stone statues, stone elephants, seals, flowers – all seem to create an imaginary world as if in a dream.
4. Thien Cung cave
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It is situated on the south-west side the bay, 4 km from the wharf outside of Halong City. The way to Thien Cung is a perilous one, covered on both sides by thick forest. After entering a narrow gate, the grotto’s 130-meter-long girth opens up. Getting in we are astonished by the very animated and splendid beauty which is made from stalactite. On the east wall of the grotto, there is a grandiose and imposing picture with characters of heroic tales.
Going out of the Thien Cung Grotto, we have a sensation of just having seen a unique, meticulous, interesting fine-art museum which is made by nature, but the pictures are made out of the imagination, ability and intellect of man.
This grotto is recently discovered, one of the most beautiful grottoes in Halong Bay.
Legend has it that a beautiful young lady named May (cloud), caught the eye of the Dragon Prince and he fell in love with her. They were betrothed, and their wedding lasted seven days and seven nights in the very centre of the grotto.
In honour of the wedding, small dragons flew about through the stalactites and stalagmites, elephants danced together happily, snakes twined themselves around trees and two stone lions danced with their manes flowing in the wind. A large elephant, smartly dressed, waited for the bride and the groom. The genies of the south and north stars also came to attend the banquet, and the atmosphere was definitely animated and lively. All these scenes have been seemingly fossilized in the grotto.
In the centre are four large pillars supporting the “roof of heaven.” From the base to the top, many strange images seem to live in the stone: birds, fish, flowers and even scenes of human life. On the north wall of the grotto a group of fairies seem to dance and sing in honour of the wedding. Under the immeasurably high roof, stalactites make a natural stone curtain. Somewhere there is the sound of a drum beating, but it is actually just the noise made by the wind blowing through stone.
Arriving at the last partition of the grotto, a natural gushing stream of water babbles throughout the year. Here are three small ponds of clear water. Legend has it, that this was where May bathed her 100 children, bringing them up wisely and happily into adolescence. One path meanders out of the grotto; it was the way May, together with 50 of her children, took to harvest new lands. The 50 remaining children, together with their father, were left to build the native land. Left behind by the mother was the natural stream described above.
5. Dau Go (Driftwood) cave
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The grotto is on Driftwood Island. Seen from afar, the entrance to the grotto appears to be blue, and has a shape similar to that of a jellyfish. After 90 steps up the island, the entrance is reached. The ceiling of the grotto is about 25 m high. Hundreds of stalactites falling down from the roof of the grotto look like a waterfall.
The grotto is divided into three main parts.
The exterior is a room with a vault full of natural light. Many forms may be seen in the rock formations of the chamber, depending on the imagination of the visitor of course.
Crossing the first chamber, one enters the second chamber through a narrow passage. The light here is mysterious, and new images appear in the stone. It leaves us wondering what these might be imagined as.
The third chamber of the grotto is widely opened. At the end of the grotto is a well of clear water. Looking up in the dim light we recognize that surrounding us is the image of an ancient citadel and a scuffle of elephants, horses & men with bristly swords and spears. All are making a rush and seem to have been petrified suddenly.
The name Driftwood Grotto came from a popular story of the resistance war against the Yuan – Mongolian aggressors. In a decisive battle, Tran Hung Ðao was given the order to prepare many ironwood stakes here, to be planted on the riverbed of Bach Dang River. The remaining wooden pieces found in the grotto have given it its present name.
The name Giau Go is associated with the legend that General Tran Hung Ðao (1226-1300) hid ironwood stakes in preparation for the Bach Dang battle against the Yuan-Mongolian invaders.
If the Thien Cung Grotto is monumental and modern (in its natural form), then Driftwood Grotto is solemn, but also grandiose. In “Marvels of the World,” published in France in 1938, the author called the grotto “Grotte des merveilles” (a site of many marvels).
In the first chamber, in the very middle of the grotto, is a colossal pillar supporting the large vault. On the top of the pillar, there appears to be a monk draped in a long, dark cloak, with his right hand clasping a cane.
The second chamber is narrow. Here, the stalactites look smaller but more graceful. One feels like going to a pagoda with a monk in meditation so that one steps more gently.
The third chamber features high stone columns out of which nature has carved images of a large kingdom of heroes and soldiers holding swords and spears rushing up, of war elephants and horses or lions, etc. All of them suddenly were petrified and remained there for good.
In 1917, Emperor Khai Dinh came to visit the grotto, and amazed by the beauty of the place, ordered the erection of an engraved stone stele singing the praises of Halong Bay and the grotto. Today, it remains to the right-hand side of the entrance.
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The Tam Cung Grotto or Three-palace Grotto is situated in the centre of Ha Long Bay, 5 km from Sung Sot Grotto to the northeast. The grotto itself is divided into three parts; after threading the stone cracks, you find the first chamber. Many beautiful forms can be garnered from the rocky shapes.
Continuing on to the second chamber, the bumpy way leads to a spring with fresh water. The last room contains further incredible stone depictions.
Tam Cung Grotto lies in May Den, a luxuriant island nearly isolated from other islands. May Den’s cliffs are extremely vertical, while its forest is flourishing.
Entering its first chamber, one can hear the sound of t’rung or stone musical instrument from near and far. Pushing further inside, tourists meet a “fairy” whose white beard flies in the wind climbing the mountain. High in the wall of the chamber there stand three statues representing prosperity, happiness and longevity, looking down at the earthly world. From the ceiling falls down a stalactite which resembles the bud of a hydrangea among a garden of stone flowers. Going through a narrow passage, one comes to a natural museum of lively animals, including lions, seals, even god of the sea. In the middle of the second chamber lies a stream murmuring all year round, making the two surrounding cliffs rustle. In the last chamber, tourists can find an imposing bas-relief in which are carved elaborate strange images, lying layer after layer in a harmonious layout. One can figure out flowers, bamboos, stone curtains, or sleeping elephants.
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Two kilometers south-west of Ti Top Beach is the Me Cung Grotto or Bewitching Grotto. It formed on Lom Bo Island, and seen from afar, the entrance is like the roof of a house denting the island’s side.
After a narrow crack only allowing one person through at a time, many partitions appear. These chambers are somewhat small and narrow, but very refined, and with many stalagmites and stalactites bearing beautiful forms.
Threading your way through narrow passages, you find a dim light from afar, which signals the exit of the grotto. On getting out of the grotto, climb up several rugged stone stairs and look down, you see a large round lake surrounded by the mountain. Its waters is blue all year round. The lake is home to many kinds of fish, shrimps, octopuses, algae, see weed, and coral. Lying adjacent to the lake there is an area of old trees popularly known as an alluring “royal garden”.
It is dry and well-ventilated, and features a thick layer of shells forming the foundation of the entrance. Formerly, this layer was 1.2-meter-thick and semi-fossilized. In the course of research, there was also a fossilized animal’s skeleton discovered in the interior. The Me Cung Grotto has been recognized by archaeologists as one of the vestiges of the pre-Ha Long new Stone Age culture, that existed between 7,000 and 10,000 years ago.
Pushing into the grotto, tourists feel like walking in a palace of a Persian king. Hearing the murmur from out of nowhere, you think that Scheherazade is telling the stories of the Thousand and One Nights for her king.
On the island, there are many ancient trees casting long reflections on the water of the bay. They are home to many species of birds and animals (monkeys, chamois and varans).