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Discovering the Halong Bay History

Halong Bay is a magnificent destination of many local as well as foreign tourists, and they know that the name Halong means “Descending Dragons”. However, there are few people who are aware of the Halong Bay history. Halong Bay history is not only events that happened in the past but also the eyewitness of the development of Vietnamese people in the ancient time. Now, let’s take a look over the history of this charming bay in terms of folklore and human history.


At the early days of the country, Vietnamese people had to fight against the fierce invaders from the North. The Jade Emperor felt sorry for the country so he sent the Mother Dragon and her children descending on the earth to help the ancient Vietnamese people fight the enemies and defend the country. 

The legend says that the Halong Bay History started when The Mother Dragon and her children appeared and incinerated the enemies with the fire and huge emeralds while the country was attacked. The mouth of dragon released the emeralds scattering around the battlefield on the sea and formed a defensive wall which made the enemy battleship fleeting sinking. Thanks to the dragons, the ancient Vietnamese people finally swept all the Northern invaders and once again, they could live in peace in their country.

After the battle, the Mother Dragon and her children did not go back to the heaven but stayed with Vietnamese people in the mortal world, turn into human being and assisted people planting, cropping, raising animals and expanding the country. The wall of emeralds has turned into islands and islets with different sizes and shapes. In order to remember the Mother Dragon and her children, the people here name the bay where the Mother Dragon descended Ha Long or Halong and bay where the children descended “Bai Tu Long” with meaning “Thanks to the Dragon’s children”. At the same time, the legend also reveal that the Vietnamese people has Dragon’s origins.

Human history

The forming and developing history of Halong Bay is significantly attractive, especially with the scientists as this land has witnessed the development of geological states, marine transgression and marine regression. Moreover, Halong bay history is special and unique because it has observed archaic civilizations, Feudalism from the Northern invaders or colonialism from Western invaders. 500 - 410 million years ago, in the Ordovician and Silurian periods, Halong bay was deep sea. Until the Carboniferous and Permian periods - about 340-250 million years ago, this beautiful bay was at shallow sea level. The current landscape was formed around 7 or 8 thousand years ago by the sea invasion - the Holocene transgression. It is suggested that humans might have lived in and around Halong Bay for 18,000 years.

Back to about 25,000 to 7,000 years ago - at the same time with Hoa Binh - Bac Son Culture, Soi Nhu culture had lived in this land. Most prehistoric Vietnamese people lived on the limestone islands of Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay and on the large caves along the coast. The main living activities were collecting shellfish and fruit, they totally depended on the nature. People in Soi Nhu culture seemed to have more diverse culture because the influence of the living condition in compare with man in Hoa Binh - Bac Son. At present, there are still some typical archeological sites which can be found in Me Cung, Thien Long or Tien Ong cave. In addition, people can explore the Cai Beo culture on Cat Ba, Ha Giat or Giap Khau or Halong Culture appeared 3,000 - 2,000 BC.

In the developing process, Halong Bay was a bustling trade centre of Annam. In particular, under some dynasties as Ly, Tran or Le, the commercial port Vandon was the chief place of exchange goods and trade with foreign merchants. Afterward, Vandon became the first international port of the country which plays an important part in mission of exchange. The Halong Bay History is much more outstanding since it is the place of 3 glorious victories: Ngo Quyen in 938, Le Hoan in 981 and Tran Hung Dao and Tran Thu Do in 1288. The history also marked Halong Bay as a prominent feature in the fight against the foreign aggressors: the French and the Americans. Specially, during the French colonization, Halong was mapped, some islets was laid. The French discovered the coal deposits which then was exploited by the French coal mining company of Tonkin while the limestone here were used to make cement.


1994 is the memorable year for both Vietnamese people and men living in Halong Bay. In this year, Halong Bay was granted by Unesco World Heritage site status as the most well-renowned tourist destinations in Vietnam. Today, Halong is the host to thousands of inhabitants residing in floating houses and working in fish and pearl farming. With the development of country, Halong is becoming the destination of many tourists with many services. The travelers can come here and enjoy the peaceful and comfortable atmosphere, observing fisherman climbing aboard on their small bamboo boats or exploring the biodiversity of tropical ecosystems as mangroves, coral reefs, fishes or sea grasses...Furthermore, travelers can take part in the many activities in the “Sun World Halong Bay” - the most modern park in Vietnam.

Like many other landscape’s names in Vietnam, Halong Bay also as its meaning and historical legend. Halong Bay history is the honor of Vietnamese people about their noble Dragon origin, the witness of the geological development and the nation formation and protection against the enemies.

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