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Thien Cung Cave at Halong Bay

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.

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CathJ said…
This is beautiful!!!
Malaysia Asia said…
Thank you Cath, I hope Halong Bay is next on your travel list :)

Jinghui said…
Nice pictures & information !

Halong Bay is on my list of places to visit, hopefully sometime next year, or earlier. Planning to kayak down Halong Bay too !

Thanks for the sharing !

Malaysia Asia said…
Hey Tan, thanks for the visit and hope you make it there early next year! As a photographer, I would recommend you take at least 2-4 days there instead of the usual 2D/1N trip.

Migrationology said…
I am headed to Hanoi in a few weeks and you have persuaded me to visit the Thien Cung Cave. The rock formations and natural beauty look incredible along with the illumination! Can't wait!
Traveling Ted said…
I believe that I visited this cave when I went to Halong Bay, however your pictures are much better than mine, so thanks for bringing back good memories.
Donna Hull said…
I visited Halong Bay while on an excursion from my cruise ship. The bay is lovely. Unfortunately, our trip did not take us to the caves, which I see from your photographs, was our loss. Now I have a reason to return.
Malaysia Asia said…
Migrationology, that's great news you're visiting Halong. I hope to post up more articles about Halong Bay in the next few days.

Ted, Thanks for the lovely words. I would go back anytime given the chance. So much to see and do there.

Donna, sorry to hear your cruise didn't take you to any caves, though the overnight one does go to the caves near where they anchor for the night? Well, as you mentioned, a good reason to go back :)

Robo said…
Wah! Really nice photos of the cave! Will plan the trip to Hanoi soon.
Thanks for sharing. :)
Malaysia Asia said…
You're most welcome Robo. Let me know when you come back!

Wilson Ng said…
Amazingly beautiful
Malaysia Asia said…
Thank you Wilson, you should have your honeymoon here :)

David, great photos! I especially love the one of the natural fountain. You keep inspiring us to visit this part of the world.
Jamie from www.cloudpeopleadventures.com
Malaysia Asia said…
Hi Jamie, thanks. Do subscribe to my feed and also follow my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Malaysia-Asia/315877277202 as I have a ton of articles to post on Vietnam and Malaysia :)

Caz Makepeace said…
Gorgeous photos! I loved visiting this cave and spending an evening on the top deck of the boat as stars rained down on us. You cannot beat a memory like that. A trip to Halong Bay is well worth it
Malaysia Asia said…
Hi Caz, thanks so much and yes I agree with you. My most memorable event was jumping into the waters from the top deck of the Junk Boat. Awesome!

CathJ said…
Oh yes... Bro... I am ging to Hanoi soon and might visiting Halong Bay.. Thank you for all your tips..

you are the best.. :)
Malaysia Asia said…
That's awesome Cath. When do you go? I'll see if I can add more tips on my facebook.

Unknown said…
That cave is fantastic. Halong is one of my favorite destination and i never get bored whenever coming there. Visiting grottoes is always on my list of must-see. Thien Cung cave is just one among a large number of caves in Halong. It, together with Sung Sot (Surprising cave) are my favorite. They are all so beautiful. Nevee miss them if you visit Halong. Karaoke, Vietnam coffee are cool as well. But the most impressive to me is spending the night on Halong bay junk. That's awsome :)
Louis said…
Thank for your post. In Halong Bay you can find more special cave like surprise cave, Drum Grotto,Grotto of Wooden Stakes...

Your pics are awesome.
bk said…
Beautiful! No wonder it is called Heavenly Cave.