Continuing the form of naming Halong Bay caves in dramatic fashion, Thien Cung Cave translates to Heaven Palace Cave for its mythical purpose of housing the Dragon King. After its initial discovery, the cave was lost for years amongst overgrown jungle, eventually proving heavenly again as it provided sanctuary for a French fishing vessel caught during a storm in 1993. This Heaven Palace Cave was opened for tourism shortly after this and is now one of the most well-known caves in Halong Bay.
Every rock has an imaginative story behind it in throughout the Halong Bay caves and Thien Cung Cave is no different. According to legend, the Dragon King married his human wife, May, here in a ceremony lasting a rather self-indulgent seven days. This was presumably followed by a lifetime of an insomnia as the newlyweds decided to raise 100 half-dragon, half-human children in their new house, mass-bathing them in the inner ponds of the cave.
This devotion to their kids would be the end of them eventually, as May left Thien Cung Cave with 50 of the kids to discover new lands, while the Dragon King stayed with the other 50 to better improve the lives of people in Halong Bay. The selfless act earned the Dragon King and his kids an honourable petrification in the cave, and now many stalactites and stalagmites are said to resemble the 50 children and their father who stayed behind.
Ha Long Bay Panorama
Thien Cung Cave really does have a special place among the Halong Bay caves. Its rediscovery was widely celebrated and work to engage tourism in the cave began quickly. The overgrown entrance to the cave was cut away and a walkway was built, meaning visitors now enter through a narrow gap in the rock; a proverbial eye of a needle; to enter Heaven.
Various coloured lights were installed around this Heaven Palace Cave to emphasise the curves and contours of the rocks, while also providing a beautiful atmosphere of the kind you might find in Heaven. It took tens of thousands of years for Mother Nature to craft the beautifully-shaped rocks into ones depicting the Dragon King’s children and the whimsical guests at his wedding. This included other dragons, baby elephants, pythons, eagles and dancing lions, all of whom apparently got on just fine with each other for the whole week-long ceremony.
The most impressive rock formations are the four pillars, the floor-to-ceiling towers that hold up the roof of Heaven in the Dragon King’s imperial home. This is close to a trio of stunning reflective ponds in the final chamber, where if you listen closely, you might hear the beating sound of a royal drum. This is what happens when wind blows through small gaps in the rock, contributing to the overall otherworldly atmosphere.
Thien Cung Cave
Thien Cung Cave’s location just 4km from the pier means that it is one of the closest caves to the mainland and also one of the most accessible. This is the reason why Halong Bay day trips favour it and why it features so heavily on itineraries that allow for 4 on the bay.
The Halong Bay day trip offered by Incredible Asia Journeys is a great way to see the majesty of this beautiful Cave.
Ha Long Bay day trip