Myth & Legend of Halong Bay

05 Aug 2015
Myth & Legend of Halong Bay, photo by Bhaya Cruises

Do you know that around Halong area there are Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay, and then Bach Long Vi Island (nowadays known as Tra Co peninsula)? Some of you might wonder why these places all have the word ‘Long’ on their names. In Vietnamese, ‘Long’ means ‘dragon’ – one of the four sacred creatures in folklore and mythology of Vietnam. The dragon in Vietnamese culture represents the emperor, the power of a nation and prosperity. The ancient belief of Vietnamese is that they are descendant of a dragon and a fairy.

Legend has it that at the beginning era of this country, the Vietnamese had to face fierce invasion from another country coming from the North through the sea. In order to help the people fight against invaders, the Emperor Jade sent a mother dragon down together with her children to stop the enemy’s ships. As the ships advancing into Vietnam’s ocean, the dragons spat fire at them. At the same time, they were spitting out jewels and jade which turned into islands and islets dotting the emerald waters and linking together to form a great wall preventing outsiders’ intrusion.

Halong Bay means the bay of the descending dragon; Bai Tu Long Bay means the offsprings of the dragon; and Bach Long Vi means the tail of the dragon.

After the invaders were defeated, the dragon fell in love with the peaceful seascape and decided to make their home in the bay. Thus, the place the mother dragon descended onto is now called Halong Bay. The place where the children dragons descended upon is called Bai Tu Long Bay and where their tail’s placed is called Bach Long Vi.

There are other versions of the legend spreading among the locals, but the one above is best known by people and matched the imagination and beliefs of the ancient Vietnamese.

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