Famous for its unique landscape, Halong Bay is also home to roughly 1,400 people spread among 400 families. We were eager to discover these traditional villages, to get a chance to get a sense of the Vietnamese way of life within the bay.

As part of our cruise across Halong Bay, we had the opportunity to see several of these fishing villages.

One of the many fishing villages

Each village can have from 20 to 50 families, each boat a household, using fitting the length of a small boat. Not large by any means, with usually different generations living on one boat.

Woman walking by her houseboat

Among the bigger and popular ones are Ba Hang, Vung Vieng, and Cong Dam, with Cuan Van the largest with approximately 800 residents in 180 floating houses, and Van Gia the oldest by hundred of years. Many never leave the village and the kids go to the floating school of their village or the nearest one.

Woman sorting shells on the boat deck

With the islands not suitable for habitation, fishing is the livelihood of these villages.

Fishing nets hanging by the houseboats

A visit to the fishing villages allowed us a better grasp of the true life of traditional Vietnamese going on their daily activities.

Women selling food and grocery

Even if tourism is part of their revenue when they rent kayaks, sell pearls and shells, or allow visitors into their home, this is not about selling to the tourists. Due to increased traffic from boats, both tourists and commercials bringing merchandise into Hanoi, as well as the reject of garbages, the quality of the water in Halong Bay is sadly deteriorating and is impacting the fishing.

Shells and pearls for sale

We were looking into their world. It sounded voyeur, but we stood humbled by the quiet and serene scene of the village life.

Find out more about our Halong Bay Cruise and how we kayaked through caves and villages. Our cruise was booked independently but as the former Director of Content Marketing at Viator.com, I would recommend their Halong Bay cruises. This is an affiliate link, which means we receive a percentage if you make a purchase using this link, at no cost to you. Our opinion is our own and is not impacted by this affiliate link. 

A Glimpse into Traditional Fishing Villages in Halong Bay – Photo Essay // Famous for its unique landscape, Halong Bay is also home to roughly 1,400 people spread among 400 families. We were eager to discover these traditional villages, to get a chance to get a sense of the Vietnamese way of life within the bay