Ti Top Island
Titop Island is a small island in Halong Bay, about 7-8km southeast of Bai Chay. It is noted for having a viewpoint at its peak which affords splendid views all around Halong Bay.
Titop Island was named in honour of the visit of Gherman Stepanovich Titop (1935-2000), the Soviet astronaut who was the second person to orbit the earth, on 22 November 1962, accompanied by Ho Chi Minh. Titop Island has a crescent shaped beach that is excellent for water sports and recreation.
Gherman Titop returned to Titop Island 35 years later, on 27 June 1997, three years before his death, in which time, the island that bore his name has become a major attraction in Halong Bay.
Bai Tu Long Bay
There’s more to northeastern Vietnam than Halong Bay. The sinking limestone plateau, which gave birth to the bay’s spectacular islands, continues for some 100km to the Chinese border. The area immediately northeast of Halong Bay is known as Bai Tu Long Bay. With long and smooth sand banks and clear water waves, Bai Tu Long Bay is associated with the graceful and sweet beauty of a teen-aged girl.
The bay also attracts a growing number of domestic and foreign visitors to its historical and cultural sites, rare and precious specialties, and the archipelago’s unspoiled beauty.
There is a legend about the archipelago that in the old days when the Vietnam was attacked by foreign invaders, the God sent a mother dragon and its babies to support the Vietnamese people. The dragons immediately blew out myriad pearls and gems that turned into grand rock mountains as a solid citadel to protect the Vietnam. After the foreign invaders were pushed away, the mother dragon and its babies did not return to the heaven but stayed in the lower world. The land where the mother dragon landed was then called Ha Long, and where the baby dragons landed called Bai Tu Long. The area where the dragon tails lashed was called Long Vi, nowadays Tra Co Peninsula, which consists of many long and smooth sand banks.
There are hundreds of islets rising from the water and many quirkily shaped rock mountains on Bai Tu Long Bay’s site. Touring Bai Tu Long Bay, a day is not enough for visitors to discover these mysterious islets. Bai Tu Long National Park can also bring great surprises, and is one of the most desirable stopovers for visitors making a trip to Bai Tu Long Bay.
Tuan Chau Island
On the south-west side of Hạ Long City it is Tuan Chau Island, a schist island, very pretty, with a luxuriant forest. It has an area of 220 ha, and to the east and south are two beaches endowed with very white and fine sand. In 1962, Ho Chi Minh visited Ha Long Bay and made a stop here for vacation. Nowadays, Tuan Chau Island is one of the most attractive destinations in Ha Long City.
Tuan Chau is in an important position at the entrance of the waterway system of Thang Long, Bach Dang and Van Don, and this is why it was formerly a military watch station. The Office of Feudal Customs was also installed there.
The island also has many archaeological sites pertaining to the ancient Ha Long culture from 3,000 to 5,000 years ago.
One can go to Tuan Chau Island via the 2-km cement road from the mainland. Investments have been poured into the island to turn it into a modern tourist resort. It includes such fascinating extras as the dolphin, sea lion, and seal-performing club, animal circus club, golf court, cultural-sports center, beach, rural market, ornamental fish lake, villas in Hill 1 and Hill 2, guesthouses, five 80-room villas by the beach. The ensemble of five restaurants and one round house built in the pagoda motif can serve up to 500 guests at the same time.
In Tuan Chau, the octagonal house where President Ho Chi Minh rested when he visited Ha Long now became his memorial site. Tuan Chau Island is expeditiously putting the finishing touches to its construction works so that they can be made available for the 2003 Ha Long Tourism Year.
Thien Cung (Heaven) Cave
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.
Sung Sot (Surprising) cave
Sung Sot Cave, which means Cave of Surprises, is the biggest and finest cave in Halong Bay. It actually got its name from the French, who called it grotte des surprises, or grotto of surprises. It is located on Bo Hon Island, near the centre of Halong Bay, within the vicinity of other sights such as Titop Island, Bo Nau Grotto, Thien Cung Cave. There is a small pier where boats dock to allow visitors down. From the pier, a flight of 50 stone steps takes one to the entrance of thecave. The inside of Sung Sot Cave is simply cavernous. At many places the ceiling is low, and takes on a wavy appearance. A profusion of stalactites and stalagmites cover the walls.
To ensure the safety of visitors, a path is built to zigzag through Sung Sot Cave. Guide ropes help to keep visitors on the path Multi-colored lights are also installed to beautify the cave and bring out its grandeur. Coming out of the cave, visitors get a panoramic view of Bo Hon Bay below. It is one of those iconic views of Halong Bay that has appeared in many postcards.
Quan Lan Beach
This beach lies at Quan Lan Island in Bái Tử Long Bay, between Minh Châu and Quan Lạn communes of Vân Ðồn District, 55 km away from Hạ Long City. Its pristine beauty features unspoiled environment. The deep blue beach has strong waves and white sand, which spans over several kilometers. Tens of meters away from the beach stand the very green wild pines, which further add to its original charm.
Quan Lạn Island belongs to Bái Tử Long Bay; part of an island range on the outside of the gulf of Bắc Bộ. It has an area of 11 sq. km, and features eight populated hamlets. Quan Lạn Island stretch toward East – West from the foot of Vân Đồn Range to the Gót Mount with many high mountains to the east barring waves and winds, protect the villages. The island is situated on an important navigation route that connects China, Japan, Thailand and Philippines to Vietnam. Along two sides of the island are tens kilometres of sand beaches. This is the endless resource for glass making which the sea gives to man and it is also the extremely interesting tourism.
Since the 11th century, Quan Lạn had been one of the centres of the ancient commercial port of Vân Ðồn, which was animated and prosperous at the time. Today, there are still many vestiges linked to the ancient commercial port. This also explains why the island, lying deep in the sea, has the large pagodas and archaeological sites seen today. On the island there is the Quan Lạn Communal House built in the 18th century; exceedingly beautiful and almost entirely preserved. Next to it is Quan Lạn Pagoda (Linh Quang Tự), which is dedicated to Buddha and God Liêu Hạnh. The pagoda also worships the statue of old Hậu, a local person who made lots of contributions to the construction of the pagoda. The statue features a gentle and cheerful old woman, which adds an original character to the pagoda. Beside Quan Lạn Pagoda lies Nghè Quan Lạn (Ðức Ông) Shrine, which is dedicated to Phạm Công Chính, a local people who participated in the historical Vân Ðồn battle against the Yuan invaders. He was later honored as a god. Quan Lạn has many valuable sea products such as octopuses, butterfish, mackerel, holothurian, shrimp, and sái sùn