Halong Bay - Home Of Major Legends

Located in the heart of the Gulf of Tonkin, 175 kilometers to the East of Hanoi, Ha Long Bay is supposedly the most fascinating natural tourism destination in Vietnam. The stunningly fantastic seascape of limestone pillars twisted with enigmatical myths of the water area allures visitors, natives and foreigners alike.

The Formation Of Halong Bay 

Geography is always not an easy subject to everyone; however, some brief information about the formation process of Ha Long Bay to become what it is today can help one understand more about the breathtaking landscape. With the total area of nearly 1553 km2, Ha Long Bay consists of 1960 small islets, most of which are limestone that have endured 500 million years of formation through diverse changes of environmental conditions.

Photo by @Robert Baldwin

The bay is well-known for both the picturesque vista and unique geo-morphologic values that can be found nowhere else in the world, especially the Karst one which has taken through almost 20 million years under the effect of tropical wet climate. The bay’s topography began 250,000 years ago during the unstable period of Earth’s crust. The area was originally deep in a prehistoric ocean, made up of many layers of limestone sediments, which later gradually weathered and receded. Through times, the limestone had been porous and then created mountains lacing with hundreds of caves that we can see nowadays.

Moreover, the geo-diversity of the environment here also amazes visitors with its intense biodiversity, including a tropical evergreen, oceanic and seashore bio-system, with 14 endemic floral and 60 endemic faunal species exclusively pertinent to Ha Long Bay.

Enchanted Legends

Viewed from high above, Ha Long Bay is an enormously sparkling painting in which the colors change every minute by different shade of sunlight. Paddling across the bay, visitors have the feeling as if they got lost in a frozen fairy land. Mysterious as it seems, Ha Long Bay is truly the water of legends.

“Hạ Long” means “descending dragon”, originating from an ancient myth about a family of dragons sent by Ngoc Hoang (King of Heaven in Oriental culture) to help defend the country while Vietnamese were fighting against the aggressor. The mother dragon and her children spat jewels and jade, which turned into islands and islets and created a firm wall intercepting the invaders. Later, attracted by the peaceful scenery of the earth, the dragon family decided to stay here; and the name “Hạ Long” was born.

Photo : asiawaytravel.com

The collection of tales explaining the names of each islet and island definitely evoke curiosity. Thien Cung Grotto (Heavenly Cave), Dau Go Cave (The Cave of Stakes), or Sung Sot Cave (Surprise Cave), why are all the names so weird? Actually, they are all originated from legends and true historical events.

Home to King of Dragon - Thien Cung Grotto is a prime example. In order to end the severe drought lasting for years at that time, a couple decided to find their way to the grotto, begging the King of Dragon for creating rain and recusing people. The couple had a daughter - a beautiful little girl named Cloud (Mây), who later fell in love with the Prince of Dragon. Their love story resulted in an imposing wedding celebrated in 7 days in the cave and attended by the whole animal kingdom as well as gods from the heaven.

Photo : alamy.com

People nowadays believe that Mother Nature had sophisticatedly described the pictures of the sumptuous feast inside the cave. Dau Go Cave, however, was the place where Tran Hung Dao (A famed General of Tran Dynasty in 13th century) prepared long spiky stakes used to sink Chinese invaders in Bach Dang River. The remains of the stakes were still in the cave and account for the name “The cave of stakes”. Sung Sot Cave has its name thanks to the exclamation of the French colonists when witnessing its astonishing beauty: “Mon adieu! Why, it is a cave!” - They called the cave grotto of surprises, and as time passing by, it became the official name of the place.

Today, fishermen living in Ha Long Bay area still have faith that there is a real “dragon”- Ha Long’s Nessie, living somewhere beneath the emerald waves.

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