Surprise Cave (Hang Sung Sot)
The only way to reach Surprise Cave is by boat and as one of the bay’s most photographed sites, it’s a popular inclusion on Halong Bay cruises. Set sail on a traditional junk boat or a luxury ship, then hop off at Bo Hon Island to explore the cave on foot. Steps climb up the cliffside to the mouth of the cave and manmade paths lead you through the cave, where atmospheric lighting makes the rock formations even more dramatic.
Halong Bay cruises typically set out from Hanoi. Choose between an action-packed day cruise or a more leisurely itinerary, with one or two nights on-board the ship. Most cruises visit a number of different islands, caves, and natural landmarks around the bay, with stops to swim, snorkel, or kayak. Look for a cruise that includes on-board activities such as squid fishing, sunrise tai chi, or Vietnamese cooking classes.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Halong Bay and Surprise cave are a must for nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and adventure travelers.
- An admission fee is required to visit the cave; most tours include entrance. Restrooms are available by the ticket desk.
- Sturdy footwear is recommended for exploring the cave; don’t forget your swimwear, as there are plenty of spots to swim and snorkel around the cave.
- Some Halong Bay cruises are accessible for wheelchairs, however the cave—reached by around 120 steps—is not accessible and may be difficult for those with limited mobility.
How to Get There
Surprise Cave is located on Bo Hon Island, right in the heart of Halong Bay. You’ll need to join a boat cruise or charter a boat to reach the island. Halong Bay is 103 miles (165 kilometers) east of Hanoi; many tours include hotel pickup and round-trip transport.
When to Get There
Surprise Cave is one of the most visited attractions in Halong Bay and it can get busy, especially during peak periods. Choose an overnight cruise that allows you to visit early in the morning to avoid the biggest crowds. The best times to visit Halong Bay are from March to May and from September to November, when the weather is ideal, with calm waters, sunny skies, and high visibility.
Highlights of Halong Bay A cruise around Halong Bay is a quintessential experience for visitors to northern Vietnam. Along with Surprise Cave, highlights include Thien Canh Son cave in Bai Tu Long Bay; the floating villages and pearl farms of Cua Van, Cong Dam, Ba Hang, and Vong Vieng; and Dark and Bright Cave, where you can enjoy swimming and kayaking. Multi-day tours often include a visit to Cat Ba Island, the largest island in the bay, where you can head ashore to hike in the Cat Ba National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve; look out for wildlife such as the rare golden-headed langur; or spend a night on the island.
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