People & Culture of Halong Bay
The diverse and enriched culture of every region in Vietnam has always made a long lasting impression on visitors. No place is the same. There will always be some differences to discover, some uniqueness to surprise even the most knowledgeable travelers. And Halong is no exception. As a combination of coastal region, in-land city and island, the people and culture of Halong present themselves as a part of Northern coastal life, which is significantly different from other regions in Vietnam.
Halong Bay is divided into two parts: the city part with industrial zone and bustling city life and the coastal part with animated tourism activities and floating life on the sea. One could easily differentiate between those living in the city and those living closely with the ocean. Seamen, floating villagers and islanders often have hardened features but generous smiles and an air of openness about them that must have come from spending their whole life in touch with nature.
When you cruise around Halong Bay, you could easily spot villagers driving boats full of supplies such as waters, snacks, fruits etc to sell to tourists or a tiny form of a woman climbing on the rocks gathering shellfish and snails for market. Some of them make a living on the floating villages; others sell fresh seafood just caught from the sea. After a day of hard working, they get together, having meals, drinking some rice wine, singing and laughing as the sun sets behind the magnificent karst mountains. For them, life might be harsh, but life is still full of joy.
The Culture & Religion
Buddhism is the major religion for people in Halong and Quang Ninh with many pagodas spreading inside the city. This is also home to some of the largest Buddhism centers in Northern Vietnam, which are popular among Vietnamese such as Yen Tu Buddhist Zen Monastery and Cai Bau Pagoda. During spring festival (around Tet holidays) thousands of pilgrims from everywhere flock to these place to pray for a year of good health and prosperity.
As a coastal city where many people make a living on the sea, there are many temples in the area worshipping the God of Sea and other myth characters from the sea. These are where the fishermen go and pray for a safe and productive trip before they set sails. Some of the biggest temples are Quan Lan Temple (on Quan Lan island), Cua Ong Temple (in Halong City), Ba Men Temple…
In Cua Van fishing village, there is a traditional singing called Hat Giao Duyen (a kind of local folk singing) which could be said as one of the unique features in Halong culture. Traditionally, there are three types of singing in Hat Giao Duyen – which are Hat Dum, Ho Bien and Hat Dam Cuoi (wedding singing). These days, only Wedding Singing remains and still preferred during local weddings. Moreover, in Cua Van village, weddings are always held on the 15th of Lunar month. According to locals, this is when the full moon shines most brightly and the golden light keeps fishes staying deep under the sea.