The World Heritage Halong Bay never ceases to amaze us! Recently, Tien Ong cave has joined the collection of cruising attractions in the world-renowned bay. It will not take long until this cave gets famous thanks to its pristine landscapes. Come visit it before it gets too crowded! Besides, the cave boasts a system of thousand years old stalagmites and stalactites. It is also a cradle of ancient Vietnamese people.
Location of Tien Ong Cave
Tien Ong Cave, also known as Grotle du Cieau by the French, covers an area of almost 1,000 m2 on Cai Tai Island. It is about 20km from Ha Long city to the South, about 5-7km from Cat Ba island (Hai Phong) to the East. This magnificent cave is very close to Cua Van Floating Fishing Village. In spite of its typical and outstanding values, Tien Ong is the most recently explored and opened for public access.
Inside Tien Ong Cave
What’s the difference?
If you have been to other caves in the area (see top Halong Bay caves HERE), you will notice the difference. Most of the caves in Halong Bay have a narrow entrance and large interior. But Tien Ong cave is an exception with a 50m wide, 14m high and short entrance that leads to a massive area inside (around 1,000 square meters). The cave is 5m above sea level, 50m deep and covers 1000 square meters, almost split into two chambers by a tall rustic stone pillar.
The system of stalactites inside looks as stunning as those inside the finest caves in Ha Long Bay, such as Sung Sot Grotto or Thien Cung Cave. The stalactites down from the ceiling and stalagmites up from the ground divide the cave into two compartments.
And where it got the name Tien Ong
In the internal compartment, there is a block of stalactites, which looks like an old man with a gentle face, long hair, and beard. The image resemblances a miraculous “fairy godfather” by the local people. That’s why people named it Tien Ong Cave.
These stalactites can take any forms and shapes, from peacock, crocodile or a mighty man. Recently they have been equipped with well-manicured lights to look much more magnificent. The cave looks like a hauntingly beautiful museum built by Mother Nature.
Tien Ong Cave: the cradle of history
Besides its pure natural beauty, the cave is also a cradle of ancient Vietnamese people. We have found many traces of human habitation since ancient times here. Starting from 1938, many archaeologists have investigated the cave and discovered human bones and artifacts dating back to 10,000 BC – 8,000 BC. Ancient residents found shelter in the cave as it faces to the southeastern direction and helps avoid cold wind thanks to its stalactites. Inside the cave, you can see remnants of prehistoric life such as: shells of freshwater snails, mountain snails or rough stone and bone tools.
So, Tien Ong Cave has become a museum for exhibiting archaeological relics. It is easier for tourists to imagine the life of the ancient Vietnamese inside the cave. Guests can both visit the cave, enjoy its pristine charm and at the same time learn about history, culture and geological tectonics. The exhibition of Tien Ong Cave archeological site attracts a lot of tourists, especially foreigners. This helps preserve cultural and historical values, and develop sustainable tourism in Halong Bay.
How to Get to Tien Ong Cave
Tien Ong Cave was opened for public access in 2010, meeting the needs of both Halong Bay enthusiasts and archaeology buffs. Not every cruise in Halong Bay includes it in their cruising itinerary because it is not yet as popular as other attractions.
If you wish to visit the cave, book an overnight cruise (2 Day 1 Night or 3 Days 2 Nights) and make sure the cave visit is included in the itinerary.
To get to Tien Ong cave, you will need to pass by Cua Van Floating Village and the cruise will stop at the cave and let you spend about one hour exploring it. If you’re lucky, you might go with a knowledgeable and experienced guide. With their help, your trip will be even more eye-opening with fantastic history lessons of cave exploration.
Best Time to Visit Tien Ong Cave
Tien Ong cave is airy and cool in summer and can avoid cold wind in winter. If the cave is your main interest, you can visit it at anytime of the year. Just keep it in mind, in September, October, and November, typhoons often occur and might affect your already planned trip. If possible, you should avoid traveling there during these months to make sure you will have the best Halong Bay experience.
Don’t forget to check out our 2019 guide: Best time to visit Halong Bay in planning your next trip!