Grandiose caves with striking shapes and hidden enigmas are a good-luck charm for Ha Long Bay in its landing as one of the best natural wonder landscapes in the world. Including at least one Ha Long Bay cave in the journey has long been considered a rule of thumb for any keen travelers interested in visiting HaLong - or Vietnam in general.
Get your mind blown away with this inclusive list of the nine best HaLong caves, which will serve as an unforgettable highlight for any of your trip.
Halong Bay caves
Sung Sot Cave
Sung Sot Cave was reportedly discovered in 1901 by a group of French, who invented the name "Surprising" (Sung Sot) for this cave due to its extremely surprising beauty. The name caught on 4 decades later and finally welcomed visitors around 1993, just 1 year before UNESCO titled Halong Bay one of the World Heritage sites.
There are a lot of amazing spots you could visit upon arriving at Sung Sot. For starters, there is a little dock near Bo Hon Island bottom, where you can pull out your boat to climb up 100+ steps to the drum cave mouth. Sung Sot covers a whopping 12 thousand square meters (double the span of America's White House) with impressive height (30 meters) and passage (500 meters).
Sung Sot Cave (Surprise Cave)
Going further inside, you will see the interior separated into two caverns. One is a moderate amphitheater space connected with small passageways to a much larger cavern nearby - spacious enough to handle 1000+ visitors. The whole cave is littered with numerous stalactites and beautiful stalagmites, serving as limitless materials for Halong's lores and legends.
One of the most convenient ways to discover this cave is to take a Paradise Vietnam’s cruise. This service allows you to literally “touch” the Sung Sot Cave by climbing its underground part with an English-fluent guide.
Read More: Exploring the Best Restaurant in Halong: A Food Lover's Guide
Thien Cung Cave
Thien Cung Cave is recognized for being the ancient home of the Dragon Emperor and May, his beautiful wife. Both organized a grandeur wedding right at the cave's center, attended by dragons, fairies, genies, and gods (whose images can still be recognized among the stalagmites and stalactites filling the halls).
Now Halong Bay tourists can wander along these winding tunnels by themselves. The extended climb up the slippery stairs and dense, obscuring jungles threatening to grow over the stairways might look discouraging at first. But once getting through them, you will be rightfully rewarded with a beautiful, uniquely lit cave of mystical colors and lights that manifest an otherworldly vibe.
More than 10 thousand square meters are open for wild exploration, with 4 colossal pillars holding up the "heaven roof", ever-glowing stalagmites, and bubbling streams.
It would be an even greater experience traveling to Thien Cung Cave on professional, luxury cruises. Just quiz the guides, and they will point out the hidden pictures of Dragon King's wedding guests among the stones, or give you enchanting tales of the legends that have been intertwined with these magnificent halls. If you are short on time, a Paradise Vietnam’s cruise passing by Thien Cung cave might give you a glimpse into its beauty.
Read More: Halong Bay Day Cruise: Discovering the Natural Wonder
Me Cung Cave in Halong Bay Caves
As the name implies, Maze/Me Cung Cave in Halong Bay is a maze for adventurous souls, captivating tourists with gorgeous floor stalagmites and ceiling stalactites of different sizes and strange shapes. One looks like a stone bear, the other a lion; others shape like swords, while others glaze above your head like a thick, soft curtain. Regardless of the passing time, these stunning sceneries are always a marvel to look at.
The lake nearby Me Cung Cave exit (or Me Cung/ Maze Lake) sits conveniently on a wild island surrounded by giant mountains, instilling a sense of quietness and peace with its serene reflection of the surrounding plants and craggy cliffs.
Further is a magnetic garden of ancient trees, granting the nickname "royal garden" for their mesmerizing huge stems and large shades. Drop by for a quick rest, and tranquil bird songs and voices of island monkeys will fill your ears, reflecting the very well-preserved life of locals and visitors to Halong Bay.
Read More: Halong Bay Cruise Luxury - A Dream Vacation
Dau Go Cave
This Halong bay cave name is established as such to pay tribute to a legendary general hiding wooden stakes (Dau Go) for the Vietnamese fight against Mongol people around the thirteenth century. Furthermore, it is situated on the Dau Go Islands - supposedly the hometown of the mother goddess Lieu Hanh - which further captivates curious visitors who love to learn more about her origins and cultural importance in Vietnamese mythologies.
Paradise Vietnam cruises from Halong City could reach Dau Go Cave in under a few hours. From here, you will be welcomed by the spectacular chambers filled with striking stalagmites and stalactites forming over 1000+ years. There is also a kind of soft, glowing lighting that drafts over the bright cave, which embraces the visual of these formations while creating a wonderful ambiance hard to forget.
The open, enormous chamber of Dau Go Cave (referred to as the halls of 1000 pillars) serves as the spot's ultimate highlight, distinguished from other chambers by huge, cylindrical columns of limestone that look like many stone pillars.
Dau Go Cave
Like the rest of the Wooden Stakes cave, this chamber also stores numerous ancient inscriptions allegedly dating back to eight centuries ago, when Vietnamese armies used it as a temporary hiding spot. With each step further into the stories, you will understand why Dau Go Cave has such remarkable historical and geological value.
Trinh Nu Cave
The name of Virgin (Trinh Nu Cave) is related to the famous story about a young Vietnamese girl who refuses to marry an old Maldarian man and waits for her love to return.
Hence, right at the center of Virgin Cave, you will be welcomed by a stunning stone statue of a woman with very long hair - supposedly the ill-fated virgin in the story. For decades, Halong locals have considered Trinh Nu Cave the eternal symbol of loyalty and burning love in women - opposite of Male Cave for men.
Interesting myths aside, it is easy to figure out why Trinh Nu Cave is the region's most famous attraction just by a quick look: the gorgeous crystal water and distinctive rock shapes are a sight not easy to slip off your mind.
Trinh Nu Cave in Halong Bay Cave
And as you march further into the interior, the awe-inspiring stalagmites and stalactites from 1000+ years ago continue to impress. There is also a private beach right next to the light cave, where you can admire nature creation and refresh yourselves in the soothing, cool water.
The drum cave is easily accessible by luxury Paradise Vietnam cruise ships from Cat Ba Island or Halong Bay. You can explore Trinh Nu on your own; but in order to truly appreciate its history and beauty, it would be much wiser to hire a professional Halong bay cave tour guide.
Luon Cave - Surprising cave
Though Luon Cave falls behind some other Halong Bay caves in size, its formation of more than several million years combined is impressive regardless due to the major impacts of water and sea wind. The incessant tides and water flow erode the limestone foot over the years to leave a huge, natural tunnel here, shaping into the Luon Cave/Tunnel Cave we know today.
From a closer look, you can still see the clear remnants of oceans on Luon Cave's mountain cliffs, where oysters, snails, and crab shells litter all over the place to prove the actual existence of human life a million years ago on Turtle island.
Get through the arch-shaped door of Luon Cave, and you will land upon the tranquil lake (one square kilometer), surrounded by giant mountains protecting it from the ocean winds and waves.
The lake water is relatively gentle, easing your exhausted mind instantly. You can also enjoy the view of limestone cliffs situated on all four lakesides, bursting with life through ancient trees, colorful orchids, and green bushes.
Read More: Discovering Halong Bay Guide: Tips for Exploring Vietnam's Natural
Dark and Bright Cave
Padding through Dark and Bright Cave near Lan Ha bay is quite an adventure due to the lack of lighting (both artificial and natural light), a clear distinction from travels to other caves.
Inside lies a vast sea valley with surrounding magnificent mountains that impress any curious mind. You can float your boat or kayak in the water, breathe in the crisp, fresh air, and admire the absolute peace and stunning scenery between the mountains, sky, and sea.
As you lose yourself in nature and march over the lush plants and flora, signals of inhibition 1000+ years ago will begin to show up through ancient fossil proof of fresh snails. Shaded fig Benjamin trees, golden monkeys, and numerous other animals and orchid blossoms can also be observed in Dark and Bright Cave, further accenting your beautiful photos and pictures for post-trip enjoyment.
Dark and Bright Cave - The most famous caves
Marine species in the water of this dark cave are equally rich, bustling with cuttlefish, fish, crab, and shrimp. While wandering around and immersing in the grotto, you may feel the natural stalagmites and intricate carvings with your own fingers, too.
Read More: Experience the Tranquility of Lan Ha Bay Cruise Available
Tien Ong Cave
Most Halong Bay caves in our list introduce narrow cave's entrance passages and large interiors. Tien Ong Cave is one of the first exceptions with very generous access (14m high and 50m wide), connected through a shorter cave entrance to lead you straight to the massive 1000-square-meter area inside.
This dark cave is 5 meters above sea level and 50 meters deep, almost divided into two distinct chambers by high, rustic pillars made of stone. The mind-blowing network of stalactites inside Tien Ong Cave is just as memorable as those inside any other caves of highest quality (such as Sung Sot/Surprise cave or Thien Canh Son cave in Bai Tu Long Bay).
And a hidden gem still await: as you travel into the deeper compartment (divided from the other outer chamber by long stalactites hanging from the ceiling), there are rows of stalactite blocks that resemble old men with long beards, hair, and gentle faces - the trademark traits of Vietnamese "fairy godfather" or Tien Ong, hence the name.
Other shapes and forms are also visible, ranging from mighty men and crocodiles to peacocks. Better yet, these stalactites have been aided with well-placed lights recently to glow even more magnificent; together, they look like a striking museum crafted by Mother of Nature.
Ho Dong Tien Cave
Ho Dong Tien (or Fairy Lake Cave) relates to the local legends of a place where gods and fairies go to rest and bathe.
Two chambers are linked through narrow passages. The first one, characterized by sparkling stalactite and stalagmite pairs, can be entered through row boats or kayaks; meanwhile, for the remaining chamber, you can travel through the shallow ponds and two tight doorways to find your way to the reputable fairy lake.
Impressive limestone cliffs wrap themselves around the fairy lake, bringing in immense peace and quietness - not just due to the seclusion itself, but also the tranquil sense of magical hums filling the air. That does not mean Ho Dong Tien is not buzzing with wild lives, though: bats, crickets, and crabs (known as the fairies' pets) still lurk in the shadows - to the delight of animal-loving souls.
By the time of this writing, Ho Dong Tien's condition is under strict protection to maintain its natural beauty and avoid heavy tourism exploitation. Nevertheless, for people with a keen interest in geo-morphology and ecology, touring this popular cave is still possible if you book Environment Education classes.
Read More: Weather in Halong Bay - Forecast Conditions and Climate
Though there are no confirmed answers yet, at least 30 spectacular caves have been publicized for tourism or educational explorations.
Sung Sot/Surprise is the name of the most distinct and famous cave in Halong. Still, be aware that there are also many other Halong Bay caves worth visiting.
Sung Sot/Surprise Cave is the largest one out of all Halong Bay caves, covering 12,000+ square meters.
You can take overnight luxury cruises to visit Halong Bay caves and Cat Ba grottos (ex: Trung Trang Cave) along with Sung Sot during your trip. Another option is to use a bamboo boat that runs through the second visiting routes of Halong Bay.
Tickets to Sung Sot Cave generally cost about 200,000 to 290,000 VND. But if you take Paradise Vietnam’s luxury cruises to visit the magnificent cave while having a convenient place for food and rest, you will get free entrance.
Read More: Halong Bay Cruise - A Must-Do Experience in Vietnam
Sung Sot Cave is the largest and most famous Ha Long Bay cave. Still, Halong Bay has more to offer than one would think with its beautiful, intricate cave network that brings you from one surprise to another.
Scour through the other eight Halong Bay caves on the list, and contact Paradise Vietnam for immediate help if you are in need of high-quality cruise trips through this UNESCO world heritage site. With diverse pricing ranges and premium services, Paradise Vietnam promises to bring you class-leading enjoyment and convenience.
A:Unit 903, 9th Floor, Gelex Tower, No. 52 Le Dai Hanh St., Hai Ba Trung Dist., Hanoi, Vietnam Hanoi, Viet Nam
T: +84 24 3941 6666
Hotline: +84 906099606
A: Tuan Chau Island, Halong, Quang Ninh, Vietnam
T: +84203 384 2368