Cat Ba Island caves: Tales of mystery
Located in the Gulf of Tonkin right next to Halong Bay Heritage site, Cat Ba Island has the perfect geography where pristine landscape and rare serenity combines. In 2004, UNESCO recognized Cat Ba Archipelago as a World Biosphere Reserve. And this island truly lives up to its title with the magnificent and mysterious caves in Cat Ba.
An overview of Cat Ba Island
Cat Ba Archipelago is in Cat Hai District, Hai Phong City. It is 25 km from Halong Bay and 30 km from Hai Phong. Cat Ba is an isolated island so whether you go to Cat Ba from Hanoi or Halong, it is required to go pass the sea by ferry or speedboat.
With an area of 285km2, Cat Ba Island is the largest island of Halong Bay. This destination is famous for Cat Ba National Park, splendid islets of towering limestone, fishing villages, sandy beaches and amazing caves.
1. Hospital Cave (Hang Quân Y)
13 km from the center of Cat Ba Town, Hospital Cave is in Khe Sau, Hai Son, Tran Chau commune, Cat Hai District. This cave is located on the way to Cat Ba National Park, halfway up the mountain.
In the past, it was called Hung Son Cave. From 1963 – 1965, Vietnamese soldiers built this cave into a field hospital in the Vietnam War. That is why locals renamed it as Hospital Cave. Hospital Cave has 3 floors and 17 rooms including function rooms, rehab areas and cinemas. With an area of 2000m2, this hospital and cave could accommodate more than 100 people. Hospital Cave is considered as a wartime masterpiece of construction.
Until today, the original architecture of Hospital Cave is still kept untouched, making this Cat Ba cave an interesting and unique historical site attracting many tourists.
2. Trung Trang Cave (Động Trung Trang)
15 km northwest to the center of Cat Ba town, Trung Trang Cave sits in the Trung Trang Valley – the largest valley of Cat Ba Island with an area of 300 hectares. This cave in Cat Ba Island is 300 meters long into the mountains.
Trung Trang Cave is a natural cave without any human touch. It is described as a masterpiece of heaven and earth dedicated to Cat Ba. There are thousands of sparkling stalactites in the cave, reminding visitors of a place existing only in fairy tales. Thanks to its mysterious darkness, this cave on Cat Ba Island is home to a diverse ecosystem including many creatures like birds, bats, reptiles and insects. In the Trung Trang area, tourists can also visit Kim Giao forest with very old trees and vines.
Trung Trang is a representative cave of over 150 large and small caves in Cat Ba Archipelago. Many traits of prehistoric Vietnamese such as fossil bones and stone tools were found here.
3. Diamond Cave (Động Hoa Cương)
Diamond Cave belongs to the northeastern mountain range of Cat Ba Island, particularly in Gia Luan Commune close to the ferry port from Halong Bay.
Diamond Cave is one of the most intact caves in Cat Ba Island. The cave has an altitude of 50 meters above sea level and 15-20 meters above where the residents live. It is approximately 10 meters high. The biggest spot is 25 meters wide and 100 meters long. Inside the cave forms impressive stalactites with colorful shapes of people and animals. They are like a painting filled with myth. There is a small lake, reflecting the light and creating a mysterious atmosphere.
In this poetic Cat Ba Island’s cave, Archaeologists found fossil teeth of ancient apes dating back 10,000 years ago. Since then, Diamond Cave has been a familiar destination for many researchers.
4. Thien Long Cave (Động Thiên Long)
Another mysterious cave in Cat Ba Island is Thien Long Cave or Phu Long Cave. The cave belongs to Phu Long Commune, Cat Hai District. Besides impressive scenery created by nature, Thien Long Cave also attracts tourists because of its tales. Locals believe that Vietnamese ancients and pirates used to accommodate this place.
The cave has a depth of 200 meters. There are huge stalactite pillars at the entrance of Thien Long cave, formed when the tree roots fall through the crevice. All of this creates a marvelous scenery of multi-colored rocks and iridescent stalactites inside this cave on Cat Ba Island.
There are stalactites that look similar to Guan Yin Bodhisattva with two hands placed against each other. Below are bizarre shapes of crocodiles, pythons and snakes. The cave owns a musical instrument made from stalactite and rock. With your hand or a wooden stick, you can play a song of unique sounds – exciting and holy with the sounds of water gurgling.
Thien Long Cave includes 3 separate parts (First Cave, Second Cave and Third Cave).