Dark and Bright Cave

Halong, Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam
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Overview

Dark and Bright Caves (Sáng - Tối Caves) are known as one of the most beautiful caves in Lan Ha Bay because the formation of the cave is not on the water like many other caves. On the contrary, the caves are shaped by many different large and small islands, over time gradually creating caves with unique shapes.

Location, formation and history

Dark and Bright Caves are located on Lan Ha Bay in the Cat Ba Archipelago. These are typical Karst caves formed about 10 thousand years ago by seawater intrusion. The complex consists of 2 caves parallel to each other, going through a majestic limestone mountain range. One of these two caves, called Dark Cave (Tối Cave) by fishermen, is often submerged under seawater and can only be seen and paddled through when the tide is very low. The other cave, which is known as Bright Cave (Sáng Cave) and is only half submerged, can be easily traversed by small boats and kayaks. 

The beauty of Dark and Bright Caves

Tourists are drawn to Dark and Bright Caves by their immaculate features. Three different types of caves, including sea caves, karst caves, and old underground caves, have been formed around Ha Long Bay as a result of geological activity. A good illustration of sea caves is Dark and Bright Caves, whose ceiling is above sea level while the bottom is submerged under water.

  • Usually found below sea level, Dark Cave is 100 meters long. It is relatively deep and has very little natural light. A few years ago, visitors could still row a boat deep inside the cave to explore it, observe numerous natural fish species, and admire stunning coral reefs. However, to ensure public safety, the Lan Ha Bay administration has imposed a ban on all tourist activities in Dark Cave due to the impact and danger of tides.
  • Bright Cave, the other cave, is larger. It is 3 meters in height, 4 meters in width, and 100 meters in length. Although the tides can affect Bright Cave, they will not put visitors in jeopardy. Bright Cave, which is shorter than Dark Cave, has a lot of natural light shining through its cracks and crevices.
    • The Bright Cave's entrance resembles a little archway that is supporting a huge, soaring mountain. From the entrance to the cave, one can already see its exit on the opposite side.
    • As the cave is not very deep, the air within is pleasant and fresh. It also contains several stalactites with unique shapes and enormous rocks.
    • When the boat almost reaches the cave's exit, a breathtaking scene will fill the view as each subsurface water drop falls down one after another, making a sound reminiscent of crystals crashing to the water's surface.
    • Visitors will reach a tranquil blue lake after traveling the entire length of the cave, which is enclosed on all sides by limestone islands.

How to get there

Dark and Bright Caves are about 2 kilometers from Sung Sot Cave. Dark and Bright Caves can be reached by boat departing from Hai Phong City or Ha Long Bay. You may find various boat tickets to get to the caves leaving from Tuan Chau Wharf in Ha Long City or Got Wharf in Hai Phong City.

Tourists must purchase an entrance ticket to Lan Ha Bay for VND 80,000/adult (USD 3.4) and VND 40,000/child (USD 1.7). In case you would like to stay overnight on the bay, the price will be VND 300,000/person (USD 12.5).

If travelers prefer to spend a night on Lan Ha Bay, they should opt for cruise ships. The majority of overnight cruise cruises stop at Dark and Bright Caves in Lan Ha Bay. Voyages often depart from Cat Ba Beo Wharf or Ha Long Wharf. The following details the price list for overnight cruises on Lan Ha Bay. Most of these programs last two days and one night, departing at midday and returning at 11 am on the following day.

  • Elite of the Seas: from USD 275/pax
  • Stellar of the Seas: fro USD 245/pax
  • Capella: from USD 190/pax
  • Heritage Binh Chuan: from USD 180/pax
  • Scarlet Pearl: from USD 180/pax
  • Indochine: from USD 175/pax
  • Genesis Luxury Regal: from USD 170/pax
  • Rosy: from USD 165/pax
  • La Casta Regal: from USD 145/pax

The optimal way to explore Dark and Bright Caves is to kayak or paddle inside the cave. Kayaks or bamboo boats can make it easier for you to explore the caves and immerse yourself in nature, experience the untouched beauty of the caves, and enjoy the fresh air.

Things to do

For all visitors to Dark and Bright Caves, kayaking is a must-try activity. You will need to rent a kayak or small boat if you want to explore the cave on your own because you cannot sail large boats through due to the limited height of the cave’s ceiling.

The closed area between Dark Cave and Bright Cave is a safe place for kayaking because it does not lie on the route of ships or boats. Also, due to the surrounding high limestone islands, the waves and ocean currents are mild, making it even safer for kayaking activities.

Other than that, travelers should also visit Cua Van Floating Village, one of the world's top 16 most picturesque ancient settlements. It is located next to Dark and Bright Caves, between Ha Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay.

Conclusion and advice 

If you decide to take the bamboo boat (rowed by local fishermen), be sure to bring your camera so you will not miss out on any breathtaking sights. If you do not have a lot of experience in water sports, getting a local fisherman to help you kayak is a safe choice. Make sure your phone and wallet are kept in a secure place if you choose to kayak on your own. Most of the time, you will need a few minutes to get used to steering the kayak.

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Cruise trips that visit Dark and Bright Cave

JadeSails Cruise 69

JadeSails Cruise

Destinations: Lan Ha Bay Dark and Bright Cave Frog Pond Area
FROM $98
Capella Cruise 1098

Capella Cruise

9.8 Excellent | 142 reviews
Destinations: Lan Ha Bay Dark and Bright Cave
FROM $195
Ambassador Signature Cruise 37

Ambassador Signature Cruise

9.9 Excellent | 22 reviews
Destinations: Lan Ha Bay Viet Hai Village Dark and Bright Cave
FROM $170
Genesis Luxury Regal Cruise 1326

Genesis Luxury Regal Cruise

9.7 Excellent | 106 reviews
Destinations: Halong Bay Lan Ha Bay Dark and Bright Cave
FROM $145
Scarlet Pearl Cruise 617

Scarlet Pearl Cruise

9.5 Excellent | 158 reviews
Destinations: Lan Ha Bay Dark and Bright Cave
FROM $175
Nostalgia Cruise 230

Nostalgia Cruise

9.7 Excellent | 42 reviews
Destinations: Halong Bay Lan Ha Bay Dark and Bright Cave
FROM $160

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