Some weird and outlandish, others full of melancholy and drama; there is much to learn from the stories that sit behind the world famous Halong Bay landscape.
“Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination
Take a look and you’ll see into your imagination
We’ll begin with a spin, traveling in the world of my creation
If you want to view paradise simply look around and view it.”
The Halong Bay landscape has been shaped and reshaped from millions of years of erosive forces; today, the myriad islets, caves, grottoes, canals, and countless other formations make up an important part of Halong’s diverse ecosystem- but did you know that many of them are accompanied by their own legend, inspired by the forefathers of Vietnam?
Trong Mai Islet (Fighting Cock Islet)
With a total of 1,960 Halong Bay islets and islands, there is plenty to explore in this region. Located in the southwestern part of Halong Bay, Trong Mai Islet sits about 5 kilometers from Bai Chay tourist wharf, and reaches near 10 meters above sea level. The apparent shape of a couple of cocks appearing to rise from the blue sea is where Trong Mai gained its nickname. These two huge formations have stood by the other for thousands of years. According to the story told by the locals, Trong Mai Islet represents faithfulness of love.
Indeed one of the highlights of the Halong Bay landscape are the incredible sunrises for which the bay is known, and indeed this Halong Bay islet is most beautiful at dawn, when the sun sheds the first shine of a day and lights up the ancient stone.
Dinh Huong Islet (Incense Burner Islet)
Dinh Huong Islet, also known as Lu Huong Islet, also bears a name whose origin stems from its perceived shape, which is said to look quite similar to an incense burner- an important object within Vietnam culture and religion.
This islet stands on the main route of several Halong Bay cruises, a route that is said to be one of the most rewarding travel routes for viewing islands, islets, and amazing caves and grottoes– all of which contribute to making the Halong Bay landscape so memorable.
This Halong Bay islet consists of just one huge stone in the shape of an incense burner, whose four pins beneath are only visible when the tide is low. Along with Fighting Cock Islet, Dinh Huong Islet has become one of the most iconic images of Halong Bay; you can see the islet’s image printed on the 200,000 VND note – signifying its symbolic value in Vietnam. According to scientists, Dinh Huong is an important piece of evidence that can help us understand the geological and geomorphological values of the Halong Bay landscape.
But Islet (Pen Islet)
Standing tall just off the shores of the nearby Cat Ba Island, Pen Islet is a favoured stop for cruises en route to the more well-known Ba Trai Dao islet. Adjacent to this Halong Bay islet, a small, perfectly pristine beach is often used as an anchor point for tourist boats whose guests fancy a dip in the water.
Considered a “monument” of the Halong Bay landscape, Pen Islet is an ideal stop for a spot of snorkelling, swimming, sunbathing, or simply enjoying the peaceful scenery.
Cho Da Islet (Stone Dog Islet)
Located in the west of the bay near Dau Go Cave, Cho Da Islet (sometimes known as Stone Dog Islet) gained its nickname for its appearance of a dog’s head turning out to sea. The image of the stone dog staying outside the door at the position of a doorman is a relatively familiar image in Vietnam; most of the traditional temples and ancient houses have a pair of stone dogs on either side of the gate; they greet, inform of visitors, and protect the house from danger and evil.
In amongst the rest of the impressive Halong Bay landscape, Cho Da Islet is a must-see spot while on a journey to discover the bay.
Con Coc Islet (Toad Islet)
Just 30 minutes away from Bai Chay Wharf, this Halong Bay islet reaches just shy of 9 meters above sea level, and when viewed from a far distance, is said to resemble a big toad waiting for the rain in the middle of the sea.
According to a story of the Vietnamese people, God once forgot to make rain, resulting in serious droughts which threatened the lives of all species on earth. A brave toad led a group of animals to meet God to appeal to him for rain. That toad was honored as the uncle of God and thereafter, whenever the toad grinds its teeth together, it rains immediately. The ‘grind of the toad’ is today regarded as a sign of oncoming rain and helps Vietnamese farmers forecast the weather.