Titop Island: As Compelling As Its Legend

Titop Island sits at the heart of Halong Bay, just 8 kilometers to the southeast of Bai Chay Harbor. It has an ideal and favorable location in the complex landscape of Halong Bay. Although it is relatively small (total area of 3.7 hectares), it’s regarded as one of the most picturesque islands in the bay and is a crowd favorite among Halong tourists.

Titop offers breathtaking landscapes, which can be viewed from a vantage point high up in the center of the island. It has a crescent-shaped beach that is known for its tranquility, powdery white sand, and azure blue waters. Because of its close proximity to Bai Chay, a stopover in Titop Island is included in many cruise itineraries.

Titop Island from above
Titop Island from above

The Story Behind the Island’s Name

Formerly called Cat Nang Island, it is now named after Russian cosmonaut Gherman Titov, who, in 1961 boarded the spaceship Vostok 2 and became the second man to orbit the Earth (after fellow Russian Yuri Gagarin who beat him by just a few months).

A year later, he visited Halong Bay and toured the area with Vietnam’s revered leader Ho Chi Minh. Uncle Ho consulted with the locals and, in a gesture of friendship between Vietnam and Russia, renamed the island to ‘Titov’ in honor of the valiant cosmonaut.

In 1997, Gherman Titov made an emotional return to the island and in the visitors’ book of Halong Bay’s management, he wrote: “Thanks that God gave me a chance to return to this island”. In September 2015, The People’s Committee of Northern Quang Ninh Province proudly unveiled a statue of Titov on the island.

Unknown to many, Titop is also known to the locals as “Cemetery Island ”. In 1905 a French cargo ship failed to safely navigate its way through the waters, eventually floundering on the rocks and lost all its crew. They were all buried on the island and so the name caught on.

The island was named after Gherman Titov - a Soviet cosmonaut.
The island was named after Gherman Titov – a Soviet cosmonaut.

Best Time to Visit Titop Island

Travelers can visit Titop island at any time of the year. The island and its beach are year-round attractions, but in general, there are two periods when tourists visit the most:

  • June to July: This is the period when most domestic tourists and those from other Asian countries choose to visit Titop Island.
  • December to February: This is the time when almost all travelers from Europe, America, and other countries in the frigid and temperate zone choose to cruise in Halong Bay and do a side trip to Titop Island.

If you are planning to visit the island during the second peak season, you must note that prices are higher and availability may be an issue. It would be best to book your trip early to get the best price.

The off-peak season is from April to May and from August to October. At these times, there are less tourists and the price of cruises is lower.

How to Get to Titop Island

You can visit either on a stand-alone day trip or as part of a Halong Bay cruise. Being so close to Bai Chay harbor makes Titop very easy to get to even if you’re only on a Halong Bay day tour and your cruising time is limited. The easiest way to get there is to book a cruise that includes it in the itinerary. Let’s break down both options:

  • A stand-alone day trip: This means a trip to visit only Titop Island. It is ideal for those who have limited time or those who already know their wanted destinations in Halong Bay. This option will allow you to go directly to the island and not waste your time in other places that you don’t like to visit.
  • A Halong Bay cruise including a Titop island trip: Almost all tourists prefer this option. Joining a cruise that includes Titop island in the itinerary, it’s really simple, right?

Activities in Titop Island

Although many Halong Bay cruises include Titop Island in their itinerary, it remains a place with only a few key things to do. It’s a small island, so the area is limited – but that does make it easier to ensure you tick all of the must-see spots off your list:

  • Aside from amazing panoramic views of the bay, Titop Island is home to a lovely little beach of the same name. It’s an ideal stop-off point to engage in some beach activities, swimming, sunbathing and barbecues. It is only a small beach, but its size seems to have little bearing on its popularity, which remains at a steady level throughout the year.

Tip: There are shops that sell swimming attire, sun creams, deck chairs where you can relax with a fresh juice or banh mi, and service areas with shower facilities after your swim. For visitors who prefer to take it a little easier, there are also lots of small-scale shops selling various local wares, crafts, seashells, and trinkets that make perfect souvenirs.

  • To the side of the beach area, you will find a handful of bars and seafood restaurants where you can stock up on some refreshments and fill up on the tasty local flavors.
  • Kayaking, and snorkeling are on offer for visitors who are looking to get a little more active. The area is home to rich marine life which makes snorkeling a top choice for water lovers and marine enthusiasts. Kayaking, on the other hand, is an ideal way to explore the surrounding areas at your own pace and access some of those harder to reach parts of the coastline that are too remote for the tour boats to reach.
  • Hiking up to the island’s central viewing spot is also a popular activity, which requires walking up 450 steps to reach a gazebo at the top, where you can enjoy some shelter from the sun while taking in the spectacular views. The summit height is 110 meters or 360 feet.
  • Exploring Me Cung Cave (Maze Cave) – just two kilometers south-west of the beach. Watching from afar, the cave entrance looks like a house roof carving deep into the slopes of the island. Venture inside and you’ll find multiple chambers and a corridor of around 100 meters. There is also a lake and sparkling stalactites in various shapes and sizes hanging like multi-colored curtains.

Titop Island is visited by scores of tourists daily, and for a number of good reasons. For many it is one of the highlights of their Halong Bay cruise. After enjoying the views and the activities in the island, visitors further reward themselves with a cool and refreshing dip in the turquoise waters of the bay.

Before you go, we’d like to share some commonly asked questions about Titop Island that we receive from avid travelers…

Beautiful sandy beach on Titop island
Beautiful sandy beach on the island. Source: IG @dipsomaniac_007
this is the view on top of Titop Island
After taking 427 steps, this is the view on top of the island. Source: IG @lauraslittlelocket
Inside Me Cung Cave
Inside Me Cung Cave

Are there Halong Bay cruises that visit Titop island?

Titop Island is one of the main attractions in Halong Bay so majority of the cruise companies include it in their itinerary. Some of the most notable ones include Pelican Cruise, Glory Legend Cruise, Aclass Stellar Cruise, Aclass Legend Cruise, Alisa Cruise, and Alisa Premium Cruise.

Is it possible to get to Titop Island without doing a 2 days boat tour?

Yes absolutely! You can visit Titop on a stand-alone day trip, which means the private boat will take you directly to the island and you’ll get to spend the entire day there.

Is it possible to go to Titop Island from Cat Ba Island?

There is no direct trip between the two islands. The most convenient way is to join a cruise from Tuan Chau Marina. Titop Island belongs to Route No. 2 in Halong Tourism, so many cruise ships make a stop there. Another option is to take a seaplane to get a bird’s eye view of the island and other places in Halong Bay. Seaplanes take off from Tuan Chau and fly 300 meters above sea level.

Leave a Comment