THIEN CANH SON CAVE
Sitting in the protected area of Cong Do, which belongs to Bai Tu Long Bay, Thien Canh Son Cave is one of the most well-known tourist’s attractions in the region. The name ‘Thien Canh Son’ gives it a pretty positive first impression. Translating to something along the lines of ‘mountain landscape in Heaven’, the cave is renowned for its ethereal and unspoiled beauty. Because of Bai Tu Long’s less touristic route, this cave provides a good alternative to the overly crowded Halong Bay caves, especially during peak seasons. Its location in protected Cong Do is one of the quietest in all of Bai Tu Long; boats that drop anchor here at nights often enjoy an utterly serene experience.
The walking up to Thien Canh Son is described as climbing toward heaven because it can only be accessed via a hidden path through a thick forest canopy along a sandstone cliff. The entrance to the cave is small and unassuming, looking at it from the outside lends no hand in picturing what is held within. Unlike the more documented Sung Sot Cave, Thien Canh Son is relatively smaller, and far less crowded with visitors, yet does not lack anything in terms of structure and things to see. Each of the unique structures inside the cave have been interpreted into recognisable objects by the locals since many years ago. No doubt when you visit Thien Canh Son, you will be told about the naturally carved images that resemble a lotus flower, a baby elephant or even a group of gnomes having a meeting. Although it takes quite a leap of imagination and a good sense of humour, it is part of the experience, and the tour guides will have fun sharing the stories with you.
Take your time touring around the cave, there is plenty to look at, thanks to the natural light accompanied by a small amount of artificial lights. When you have finished exploring everything, at the end of the last cavern, take a chance to step back out into daylight and enjoy the panoramic view of Cong Do from your vantage point; it is a nice place to take a few pictures.