Travel Guide

Halong meaning – what does “Halong” mean?

Last updated on
December 24, 2018

Halong Bay is a famous destination in Vietnam and all over the world. Halong together means descending dragon in which Ha means descend or land; Long mean dragon.

Halong can be pronounced as “Ha Long”.

Legend of the name

Halong is written as “Hạ Long” in Vietnamese. The origin of the name is from a Legend that widely known among Vietnamese people.

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.

So they prayed for a miracle. In order to help the people fight against invaders, Emperor Jade sent a mother dragon down together with her children to stop the enemy’s ships.

As the ships advanced 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.

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.

That is a Halong in Legend and Vietnamese people’s belief.

Scientists who have spent months in the area, show another amazing story about Halong Bay. Find out more about Halong Bay History.

Halong Bay untold

Halong Bay is a well-known destination but still keep lots of mysterious stories and questions not yet answered.

  • Halong got its name since late XIX century. Before that, The legendary bay had many different names such as An Bang, Luc Thuy (green water), Van Don. The name Halong first appeared in French nautical map in late XIX century.
  • Halong meaning is descending dragon. In Vietnam, we have another place called ascending dragon. And guess what?, this is also a famous attraction within the country – Hanoi capital. Hanoi carried the name Thang Long for nearly 400 years (1010 -1397,1805 – 1831).
  • Mysterious Creature: According to old records of French naval ship, they saw giant sea snake on Halong Bay. Captain Lagresille – commander of the Avalanche cannon – in his report in July 1897, said that they saw two strange creatures on Halong Bay. The body was about 20m long and about 2m in diameter, their neck was covered with fine hair. They move by winding like a snake. The crew loaded fire but the distance was too far so they did not hit, only making the creatures dive deep into the sea. On February 24, 1898, the crew again discovered the same giant creature in front of the ship bow. This time Captain Lagresille confirmed that its head was very similar to the head of the seal but nearly doubled. Another witness is Captain  Peron of Chateurenault, on February 12, 1904,  the crew saw a giant creature with gray color and light yellow spots. They just appeared for a little while then disappeared into the sea. These stories had been published on “Hai Phong News” with the title “ Dragon on Halong Bay”.


Pierre Dieulefils (1862-1937)

  • Treasure under the sea: Recently, on Now and Then Journal no.289, August 2007 ( by Vietnam association of historical sciences) has published an article by Author Ho Dac Duy, in which he made a hypothesis about Mongolian treasure under Halong seabed. In 1288 when Tran’s army defeated and destroy Truong Van Ho’s boats, there must be many valuable items other than food. In 2004, some divers discovered an old shipwrecked with pottery and porcelain. According to Dr. Pham Quoc Quan, Director of the  Vietnamese History Museum, these objects come from China, dating back in the late XIX century. Since no archaeological excavation has taken place under the seabed with dangerous whirlpools in the shipwreck area,  this is still a mystery in the heart of Halong Bay.
  • Halong bay possesses tremendous cultural and historical values. There exists a culture which lasted for 1000 years, bore the name Halong.