Surprise Cave – The Most Stunning Cave in Halong Bay

Rachel Tran
Rachel Tran | Published: December 21, 2021

Whenever mentioning Halong Bay, the very first image that appears in the mind of tourists is a system of magnificent caves and impressive islands.  Of all the caves in Halong Bay, the most famous one that should be included in the itinerary of all tourists is Surprise Cave. Are you wondering what makes this cave much more outstanding than others in Halong Bay? To help you find out your own answer, we will reveal all the things you need to know about Surprise Cave in Halong Bay so that you can make the best plan for your journey.

History of Surprise cave

I. History of Surprise Cave

Surprise Cave in Halong Bay also has another common name as Sung Sot Cave. Coming to Halong Bay, tourists will get a chance to listen to the legend related to this striking cave. According to the stories of the locals, thousands of years ago, under the reign of King Hung, the Yin enemy from China invaded Van Lang (the name of Vietnam during King Hung rule). In the critical situation, Thanh Giong, a three-year-old child, helped the king to defeat the invaders. After the fight, Thanh Giong left behind his iron horse and sword then came back to Heaven.

The area where the battle occurred now is a part of Halong Bay. Around the area of Surprise Cave, there are a lot of small ponds and islets, which were formed by the footprints of the iron horse due to the fierce battle that year. Nowadays, coming to Surprise Cave, tourists can still see the rock and the stalagmites that are in the shape of swords, which reminds tourists about the legend of Thanh Giong.

In reality, Surprise Cave was first discovered in 1901 by a French scientists. So overwhelmed by the beauty of the cave that French people called it “Grotte Des Surprises” in French, or Surprise Grotto in English and “Sung Sot” in Vietnamese. Despite being discovered in the beginning of the 20th century, it was not until 1993 that Surprise Cave was widely open for tourists. Thanks to the tourism activities in Halong Bay, Surprise Cave now is much more popular among both domestic and international visitors. It is such a pity that you come to Halong Bay without visiting Sung Sot Cave.

II. Highlights of Surprise Cave

Surprise Cave is the largest cave of Halong Bay, with a total area of more than 12,000 square meters. The cave is located at the core of Halong Bay, which is about 14 kilometers from Bai Chay Tourist Wharf of Halong City.

Along with Luon Cave and Trinh Nu Cave, Sung Sot Cave is one of the three most famous caves on Bo Hon Island. This island is famous not only for its stunning caves and grottos but also a diverse biosystem. As an important world heritage, the nature around Surprise Cave is well-preserved so that everything there can remain its pristine appearance.

Sung Sot Cave is about 25 meter above sea level. From Bo Hon Wharf, getting over 100 stone stairs, you will reach the entrance of Surprise Cave. The path leading to Surprise Cave is covered by luxuriant trees, which seems that the plants are trying to hide a secret waiting for humans to explore. The entrance of Surprise Cave is quite narrow, but in contrast, the space inside the cave is enormous.

In general, this cave is a dry one, so you can discover the cave on foot. As the biggest cave in Halong Bay, the capacity of Surprise Cave can be up to 1,000 people. This cave is relatively high: the distance from the floor to the ceiling of the cave is about 30 meters. Along the 800-meter length of the cave is a magnificent and sparkling world of stalagmites and stalactites. The area of the cave is divided into three separate parts, each part has its own attractions that are waiting for tourists.

So impressive is the cave that you for sure will be immediately surprised at the appearance of the cave when you set your foot on the interior of the cave. Free your mind and let your imagination take flight to think about the stories that the cave is trying to tell you.

What to see at Surprise cave

III. What to See at Surprise Cave?

1. The first part

Walking over the narrow entrance of Surprise Cave, you will reach the first part of this cave. The floor of this cave is 5 meter lower than the doorstep at the entrance. Of all the three parts of Surprise Cave, this part is the smallest one: the area of this surprise cave is nearly 300 square meters. The first impression tourists will have when setting foot on this part is a small and shallow lake, which has been formed by the rain water flowing into the interior through the limestone cracks on the cave ceiling. So clear is the cave that you can even see the lake bottom hovering in the light and dark of the cave.

The first part of Surprise Cave is considered as an opera house of the ocean. The cave ceiling is like a huge velvet carpet, which is decorated with a lot of splendid stalactites in the shape of chandeliers. The limestone stalagmites on the floor of the first part are such a masterpiece of nature: no one looks like the others; you can imagine the statues of humans, plants, and animals. The combination of light and stones in this part draws a lively picture that can break the empty and cold feeling of the cave.

2. The second part

The more you get inside the cave, the more amazed you will be. The second part of Surprise Cave is twice larger than the first part, with the area up to 600 square meters. The ceiling of this second part is strongly karstified, and the result of this process is thousands of holes on the ceiling. The second part of Surprise Cave has more air vents than the first part, so the atmosphere there is more clear and ventilated than the first one.

It can be said that the second part is a world of mysterious stories. The stalagmites and stalactites of Sung Sot Cave will remind you about the legend of Thanh Giong. Right at the exit of this cave is a large rock in the shape of a horse, along with a sword-shaped stalagmite. On the floor of the cave, there are some huge puddles that look like the footprints of the horse at the battle that year. All the stones in this part are telling their own tales, the tales that have existed for thousands of years.

3. The third part

The third part of Sung Sot Cave is the area which makes you the most surprised. Entering this part, you cannot help but be astonished by the splendid and marvellous appearance of this cave. Along with the brilliant light from all the corners of the cave, a royal garden will appear in front of your eyes. This garden is full of sunlight, fresh air, fragrance of flowers and colors of life. This garden will make you feel as if you were entering a fairy tale in a wonderland, where mysterious and amazing things are waiting for you to explore.

Even the most finicky tourists will be convinced by the magnificent beauty of Surprise Cave. The interesting thing always appears at the last part, and that is so true in the case of Surprise Cave. The royal garden with the crystal lake, lush bushes and stunning cave is such an ink-wash painting of nature, where you can enjoy the breath-taking picture and listen to the sounds of birds and monkeys every morning. The beauty of the cave will give you the exact answer why it is called “Surprise Cave”.

IV. How to Get to Surprise Cave?

Surprise Cave is about 14 kilometer from Bai Chay Wharf, and the main transportation to get to this cave is a cruise ship. Due to the ideal position at the heritage core, it is not hard for you to get a ship whose itinerary consists of Surprise Cave. You can go on a journey arranged by a travel agent, or you can also make a tour yourself.

From the tourist wharf, you need to take the cruise ship No.02, which will take you to Surprise Cave as well as other well-known nextstops of Halong Bay such as Me Cung Cave, Ti Top Island, Luon Cave, Trinh Nu Cave, Trong Cave and Bo Nau Cave. The price for this tour is 290,000 VND/person, and the tour will last for 6 hours.

If you have more time to enjoy an overnight tour in Halong Bay, you can hire a private ship to get to the destinations you want. Experiencing a night on the bay is a favorite selection of many tourists, since they wish to contemplate the striking beauty of Halong sea when the night falls.

Spring, early summer and late autumn are the most suitable times for you to take a tour to Halong Bay in general and Surprise Cave in particular. The temperature and rainfall conditions in Halong at these times are quite favorable for tourists to take a tour discovering this bay. You should also watch the weather forecast to make the best preparation for your trip.

V. Extra Tips

  • A nice day with light sunlight and mild wind is the best condition for your trip to Halong Bay. You should avoid going on a day that is too hot or too wet. The bad weather can prevent you from enjoying your trip.
  • Besides Surprise Cave, you can visit Dong Tien Lake, Luon Cave and Trinh Nu Cave in the nearby area.
  • Bring all the things you need for outside activities, including sunscreens, sunglasses and hats.
  • Since you have to walk over stairs to reach Surprise Cave, comfortable clothes are better for movement.
  • In case you intend to visit Halong Bay during the tourism season, you need to book the tour and hotel in advance. Tourism season is the most crowded time in Halong Bay.
  • Don’t forget to protect the environment in the area of Surprise Cave and Bo Hon Island.

Are you excited about the trip to Surprise Cave in order to discover the beauty of the cave yourself? As one of the most beautiful caves in Halong Bay, Surprise Cave is such a masterpiece of the Creator in Halong Bay. If you have a chance to visit this cave, don’t forget to share with us your memorable moments there! Hope you have a journey safe and sound.

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