Thien Cung Cave at Halong Bay - During my visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay in Vietnam, we took a day cruise out to the bay on one of the Vietnamese Junk boats which was about four hours long. Honestly, we did not know what to expect as it was a spontaneous decision to go for the cruise. Our initial overnight cruise was scheduled the following day so we had some time to pass here at Halong Bay. While exploring Halong City and heading down to the jetty, a number of boat operators approached the three of us and after much haggling, we simply hired an entire Vietnamese Junk Boat at the price of 500,000 Dong (US$30) for a day cruise that started at 2pm and ended at about 6.30pm.
Vietnamese Junks docked outside the cave
Departing from Bai Chay Tourist Wharf which is the main ferry or boat terminal for all tourist heading out to Halong Bay, we patiently waited about 15 minutes for our boat to arrive. A simple Vietnamese Junk from the many hundreds was sent to pick us up and from the jetty and it took us a good 30 minutes to our first destination which was the Thien Cung Caves located in the South-West of the bay. As we got closer, many other Vietnamese junk boats were seen docked there and with amazing boat skills, our captain squeezed his junk between some of the other boats. As we got on to the jetty, our complimentary local guide from the boat lead us up the staircase and to the cave entrance.
Thien Cung Cave entrance
From the outside of Cave, I could see strange lights were illuminating far on the inside and walking through the fairly large entrance, a gust of cold wind was felt running past me. It was then that I knew this was going to be an interesting exploration of the Halong Bay Caves.
Beautiful lighting inside the caves
It felt like I was in a fantasy world - a myriad of colours was seen beautifully displayed against the formations of the cave rocks here. A clever way to decorate the caves as usually on my other cave adventures, a general warm light is used to highlight the caves so this was something totally different and I kind of enjoyed it in a photographic way. But don't get me wrong, seeing the caves with your naked eye was ever so pleasing too.
Formations with beautiful colours
As the guide explained the history of the caves and led us around, I casually took my time to shoot these lovely pictures. All the pictures you see here were taken using a Nikon D60 with a 18mm-105mm Lens and I did not bring my tripod so I had to make do with some of the cave rocks as my tripod. Below are pictures of the caves I took along the way here.
An opening revealing some natural light into the caves
Stalactite formations with natural light
Beautiful stalactite lit with blue and red lights
An odd stalagmite formation with water flowing
Deeper into the caves
A natural fountain inside the caves
Notice the size of the ave compared to the two people
Halong Bay view from the top of the cave exit
As we exited the cave, I could not help but admire the natural beauty of Halong Bay. From up top, we could see the Vietnamese Junk Boats by the mini jetty waiting for their guests to get back from the cave visit. It was a good ten minute walk down as we passed a local souvenir shop and some general information about the caves which were on boards. There are drinks and snacks sold while public toilets are available.
On the way down from the caves
Vietnamese Junk Boat waiting for guests
As there are three main caves around Halong Bay, some of the Junk Boat operators may not take you to all three caves. The day cruise we booked only brought us to two caves while the overnight cruise takes you to another cave around the bay. You might want to double check when you book your Halong Bay Cruise.
Thien Chau Cave tips and preparation;
- You must have the Cave Tickets which are bought at the wharf/jetty
- Wear shoes/sandals with good grip as it can be slippery
- No need for any repellent
- Poncho in case it rains when you exit as the walk back down is not covered
- Do not buy the pearls on board the junk
- Tripod if you must!
Watch out for my other cave articles and also about Halong Bay. If you are into Eco-tourism or enjoy visiting caves around Southeast Asia, you might want to take a look at some of my other article Caves to visit in Sarawak Sabah Malaysia.
During my visit here, I stayed at the Holiday Villa Tuan Chau Island and then again on board the overnight junk cruise in Halong Bay. If you are visiting this UNESCO heritage site and have some extra time, I would recommend you try out the day cruise as they will take you to the Thien Cung Cave at Halong Bay.