What’s the Story Behind Halong Bay’s Floating Villages?

The scenic beauty of Halong Bay has become renowned throughout the world, causing thousands, near millions of tourists to visit the bay every single year. To get a deeper understanding of why, check out our list of top 20 attractions in the Halong Bay area!

But these tourists were not the first people to visit.

Dating back thousands of years, Halong Bay has been populated by small local communities living on floating fishing villages tucked away in between the karst, and sunken mountains.

This is the incredible story behind Halong Bay’s floating villages.

But first… What’s the history behind Halong Bay?

After over 500 million years of erosive forces from the wind and sea, the softer pieces of limestone on the mountains were worn away, leaving the harder areas behind.

These now form what we recognize as Halong’s distinct geomorphic topology—or, in other words: the otherworldly sunken mountains that jut out from Halong’s emerald green waters.

halong bay's floating villages
Go squiding with local people is a worth-trying experience. Photo by boldtravel

What’s the story behind the villages?

Originally built as a place for returning fishermen to sell their fresh catch from the night before, the Halong Bay floating villages became residential quite quickly.

But it didn’t stop there:

People lived, ate, slept, worked, partied, and even went to school in these tiny, self-sufficient floating villages.

Each fishing village is a completely self-contained society, in perfect harmony with the land and sea, and surviving everyday trials and tribulations by working together.


These are resilient people, unfettered by modern-day problems, living out lives that are little changed by the passage of time. The villages have houses, shops, schools and even police stations.

Their boats and houseboats are tethered together to provide safety and stability when tested by the elements.

Do people still live in the Halong Bay floating villages?

Sure, at one point, the Halong Bay fishing villages were the most unique and close-knit communities you’d ever imagine.

But then something changed:

A couple of years ago, the government sent out a directive that would force the residents to move inland and leave their floating homes behind.

At first, the people in the village were indignant, refusing to leave behind the homes – the community that they had spent generations to build. But the government’s standpoint was firm: the people’s quality of life, and particularly the children’s access to education would improve vastly if they moved inland. Pollution and environmental protection were also big factors.

The directive was final.

halong bay's floating village
Locals of these villages never go inland and they’re proud of this place. Photo by IG@mayapank
halong bay's floating village
Local people are collecting to make souvenirs. Photo by David Kelvey

So what happened since?

Now, the Halong Bay floating fishing villages are preserved intact, just the way they were when the residents still lived here full time.

Although people do not now live here full-time, the locals still carry out a lot of activities and work tasks here, such as fishing, net weaving, and pearl processing. These fishing villages stand as a testament to resilience, tradition, and the delicate balance between humans and nature.

What were the Halong Bay floating villages like before the move?

The Soi Nhu people arrived around 20,000 years ago and survived until approximately 7,000 BC. Next came the Cai Beo people, who ruled the roost for about 2,000 years. Then, in 5,000 BC the Halong people’s culture took hold and held sway for about 1,500 years.

The 6 captivating floating fishing villages in Halong Bay

Visiting the Halong Bay floating village is one of the top-rated activities in the region, which tourists enjoy a lot thanks to the chance to get a look at Halong’s deep-rooted culture up close, and learn about the people who once lived here.

The descendants of these villagers are now the people who, until recently, inhabited the six fishing villages: Cua Van Floating Village, Vung Vieng Floating Village, Cong Dam Floating Village, Ba Hang Floating Village, Viet Hai Fishing Village, and Cap La Floating Village.

1. Cua Van Floating Village – The priceless gem of Halong Bay

Cua Van floating village
Cua Van floating village Vietnam has become a popular tourist destination. Photo by paradisevietnam

Location: situated in Hung Thang Commune, just 20 km from the tourist boat wharf at Halong City; it can be accessed either from here or from Cat Ba Island and is attached to both Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay. Kien Le

How to get here: Travelers can reach Cua Van Fishing Village within 2 hours by booking a guided cruise tour departing from Halong City or Tuan Chau Island.

Home to a vibrant community of fishermen, Cua Van Fishing Village offers a glimpse into traditional Vietnamese life. Visitors can explore the maze of floating houses, interact with locals, and learn about ancient fishing techniques passed down through the generations.

Cua Van Fishing Village lies amidst calm waters surrounded by mountains. Listed as one of the finest examples of ancient fishing villages by a top travel site, today there are about 200 boats there. The tranquil ambiance and stunning scenery make Cua Van Floating Village a must-visit destination in Halong Bay.

Cruises that go hereAclass Stellar, Azalea Cruise, Carina Cruise, Phoenix Cruise, Paradise Elegance Cruise, Paradise Luxury Cruise, Paradise Peak Cruise.

2. Vung Vieng Floating Village – The most beautiful fishing village in Halong Bay

Vung Vieng floating village
Vung Vieng Floating Village. Photo by AlongWalker

Location: located in the heart of Bai Tu Long Bay, it is about 40 km from Halong City.

How to get here: To reach Vung Vieng Fishing Village, travelers can book a guided cruise tour from Halong City or Cat Ba Island. Thanks to the picturesque setting, this is a favoured stop-off for cruise boats.

This tranquil fishing village enchants visitors with its idyllic scenery and timeless charm. Travelers can explore the floating houses, meet local people, and embark on a traditional bamboo boat ride through the picturesque waterways.

Vung Vieng Fishing Village offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of modern life, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Halong Bay.

While the residents used to earn their wages through fishing and pearl farming, nowadays their income is mainly supplemented by tourism.

Cruises that go here: Dragon Legend Cruise, Dragon Pearl Cruise, Emperor Cruise, Garden Bay Luxury, Garden Bay Premium, Huong Hai SealifeSignature Cruise, Signature Royal Cruise

3. Cong Dam Floating Village – The unspoiled fishing village in Halong Bay

Cong Dam floating village
Cong Dam Floating Village. Photo by baithojunks

Location: located in the pristine waters of Bai Tu Long Bay, far from the mainland.

How to get here: Travelers can access Cong Dam Fishing Village by joining overnight cruise tours departing from Halong City or Bai Tu Long Bay. Thanks to its beautiful beaches, it’s also a favored stop-off point for cruise boats.

Despite its small size, with only about 120 residents, Cong Dam Fishing Village has the most intact traditional fishing culture. Visitors to this area can engage in a variety of activities alongside local fishermen, including fishing, squid fishing, mangrove planting, kayaking, and exploring charming cottages on a bamboo boat.

Known for its coral reefs and underwater caves, this is one of the smallest and oldest fishing villages in the bay. Surrounded by towering limestone mountains and azure waters, Cong Dam Fishing Village is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.

Visitors can kayak through the tranquil waters, explore hidden caves, and witness the daily lives of local fishermen. The remote location and natural beauty make Cong Dam Fishing Village a peaceful retreat for travelers seeking to escape the crowds of Halong Bay.

Cruises that go here: Dragon Legend Cruise, Huong Hai Sealife, Signature Cruise, Signature Royal Cruise

4. Ba Hang Floating Village – The idyllic village in Halong Bay

Ba Hang floating village
Ba Hang Floating Village. Photo by originvietnam

Location: located in Ha Long Bay, neighboring Dau Go Island, about 3 km south of Tuan Chau International Port.

How to get there: Access to Ba Hang Fishing Village is typically included in guided cruise tours departing from Halong City or nearby islands such as Cat Ba.

Home to 50 families, Ba Hang is a small village that lies in a peaceful strip of water between two karst formations. Again, while it used to be a fishing village, now the people who work here are mainly serving the tourism industry.

Renowned for its trio of caves, this fishing village boasts an added allure, inviting exploration and admiration. As you navigate through the maze of floating houses, enjoy the fresh air and take a moment to absorb the rugged beauty of the limestone mountains that envelop the village, creating a dramatic backdrop against the azure waters. Engage with the local fishermen, immersing yourself in their daily life and gaining valuable insights into their resilient way of life.

5. Viet Hai Fishing Village – The enchanting village with exciting activities

Viet Hai fishing village
Viet Hai Fishing Village. Photo by chilly_travel

Location: located approximately 18 km from Cat Ba Island, Cat Hai District, Hai Phong Province; it is included in the area of Cat Ba National Park.

How to get here: To reach Viet Hai village, you can either take a boat from Cat Ba Island or Ha Long City or opt for a scenic hike through the jungle after embarking on an 8km trek passing the Ao Ech Lake.

Even though it’s considered one of the least wealthy communities in the Cat Hai district, Viet Hai Village exudes a sense of joy and contentment. Explore the village’s lush greenery, traditional stilt houses, and the strong feeling of togetherness that makes this place special. Moreover, don’t overlook opportunities for kayaking, swimming, boat paddling, trekking, and fishing activities.

Residents appear fulfilled despite their modest material possessions, finding richness in gratitude. It’s their genuine warmth, generosity, and positive outlook that draw an increasing number of international tourists to the area.

6. Cap La Floating Village

Cap La floating village
Cap La Floating Village. Photo by gadttravel

Location: lying between Bai Tu Long Bay and Halong Bay.

How to get here: Access to Cap La Fishing Village is typically included in guided cruise tours to Lan Ha Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay departing from Halong City or nearby islands such as Quan Lan.

Cap La, a small fishing village, operates without modern amenities such as national electricity. Instead, locals rely on power generators for their daily needs, showcasing both the challenges and resourcefulness of life here. With a population of over 200 residents and only 80 household holders, Cap La fosters a strong sense of community and resilience.

For those seeking an authentic experience away from tourist crowds, Cap La Fishing Village offers an ideal escape. Picture wooden houses resting atop the water, silent boats gliding by, and a tranquil atmosphere conducive to reflection.

Despite its challenges, Cap La’s residents maintain a harmonious relationship with nature, embodying the spirit of this unique floating village. Upon arrival in this village, we are confident that the hustle and bustle of your everyday life will fade away.

Ready to experience the Halong Bay floating villages? Get in touch with us to find out more about the cruises that go there.

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