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.
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.
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.
With the islands not suitable for habitation, fishing is the livelihood of these villages.
A visit to the fishing villages allowed us a better grasp of the true life of traditional Vietnamese going on their daily activities.
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.
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.
February 10, 2019 at 10:21 pm
Hmm it appears like your site ate my first comment (it was extremely long)
so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and said, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any points for beginner blog writers? I’d genuinely appreciate it.
April 9, 2019 at 7:41 am
Sorry to hear that your initial comment disappeared, but thank you for the nice comments. We definitely like to motivate travelers to explore new places. As for pointers, I would say be prepared for long hours and be patient!
April 13, 2016 at 11:38 pm
Thanks for sharing those beautiful pictures! I have been in Halong Bay for a 2-day boat trip and it’s so stunning! One of my highlights in Vietnam!
April 15, 2016 at 7:38 pm
Same here! This is on the touristy side but that doesn’t take away the beauty of the place, and remains a must-see while in Vietnam!
March 21, 2016 at 8:07 am
I experienced Halong Bay another way : I took the public ferry boat to Quan Lan island. We sailed both through the offbeat part of the bay and the most famous one. And I really recommend Quan Lan island. It’s a real paradise far from the horde of tourists. The inhabitants are so nice, just like in the offbeat North. I was invited everywhere and could never eat alone 😀 The less glorious side was that I often had to eat… dog meat…
I put the link to the article that explained why I enjoyed Vietnam so much. Sorry if it’s in french, but there’s a lot of pics 😉
April 5, 2016 at 12:47 pm
The further you go beyond touristy places, the more authentic you can discover. And no worry about the link in French, from a French to another 🙂
March 13, 2016 at 11:03 pm
March 13, 2016 at 1:28 am
These are great photos! I love the colours and choas. It looks amazing.
March 15, 2016 at 6:23 pm
Glad you liked it!
March 12, 2016 at 9:10 am
Great photos! And great commentary on the effects of tourism.
March 12, 2016 at 3:05 pm
Glad you like it. 🙂 And yes it is always tricky to see the impact of travel.
March 12, 2016 at 8:45 am
I’m flying into Siagon next month but can only spend a day. I love the hates so much I bought one (in Phoenix, lol)!
March 11, 2016 at 10:10 pm
Your photographs are stunning and give a true sense of both the serenity and chaos within these villages. It’s such as stunning bay.
March 12, 2016 at 3:07 pm
Thanks, appreciate the feedback. It was indeed real peaceful. It felt like time had no impact, every day the same.
March 11, 2016 at 9:20 pm
Very nice photos which bring alive the life in the fishing villages of Halong Bay.
March 12, 2016 at 5:53 am
It’s incredible to see how they live in these run down boathouse fractures they call home. I’m sure that are all overcrowded with family members. It’s amaze that the water quality is getting worse and will eventually affect their livelihood.
March 12, 2016 at 3:11 pm
Pollution is indeed a global problem, though it will impact some communities more than others. These fishing villages will probably feel it more given their economic and geographic situations.