Titop Island sits at the heart of Halong Bay, just 8 kilometres to the southeast of Bai Chay Harbour. Although it is relatively small, it’s regarded as one of the most picturesque islands in the bay and is a crowd favourite among Halong tourists.
Titop Island offers breathtaking landscapes, which can be viewed from a vantage point high up in the centre of the island. Tourists can find accommodation in any one of the numerous high-end resorts, hotels, restaurants and bars that have been constructed here. Because of its close location to Bai Chay, Titop Island is included as a stop off in many cruise itineraries.
The Story Behind The Island’s Name
Spaceships, Russians, and devastating shipwrecks; how this tiny outcrop of land became to be called so is quite surprising.
Formerly called Cat Nang Island, it is now named after the 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).
Titov visited Halong Bay some months later in 1962 and toured the area with Vietnam’s revered leader Ho Chi Minh. Uncle Ho consulted with the people on the island and, in a gesture of friendship between Vietnam and Russia, named the island in honour of the brave cosmonaut. Gherman Titov returned to the island in 1997 for an emotional visit. 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.
The island is also known by locals as “Cemetery Island ”. In 1905 a French cargo ship was unable to safely navigate its way through the waters, eventually floundering on the rocks with the loss of all hands; they are buried here and so the name caught on.
Activities in Titop Island
Although many cruises include Titop Island on 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 on Titop Island off your list:
- Apart from amazing panoramic views of the bay, the island is home to a lovely little beach of the same name. It’s an ideal stop-off point to get stuck into 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 on the end of the beach that sells swimming costumes, suncreams, deck chairs where you can relax with a fresh juice or banh mi, and service areas with shower services for after your swim.
- To the side of the beach area, visitors will find a handful of bars and seafood restaurants where they can stock up on some refreshments and fill up on the tasty local flavours.
- Kayaking, and snorkelling 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; while kayaking is an ideal way to start exploring 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 over 400 steps to reach a gazebo at the top, where you can enjoy some shelter from the sun while taking in the awesome views.
- For visitors who prefer to take it a little easier, there are a ton of small-scale shops selling various local wares, crafts, seashells, and trinkets that make perfect souvenirs.
Titop Island can be visited as a stand-alone day trip or as part of a tour operated by one of the Halong Bay cruises; being so close to the harbour at Bai Chay makes it very easy to get to even if you’re on a Halong Bay day tour and your cruising time is limited. The easiest way to get to Titop Island is to join a cruise that includes it in their itinerary.