Hidden Charms of Vietnam: The Floating Fishing Villages in Ha Long Bay

Vietnam has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, which has led to rapid changes to not only the major cities but it’s also bringing modernization to rural communities with century-old traditions. Yet there are still many charming and well-preserved cultural villages remaining that you should visit right now. And amongst the top of these destinations are the fishing villages of Ha Long Bay.

The Ha Long Bay region is one of the most prestigious destinations of all of Vietnam, it preserves the natural sights and cultures from the faraway past. Time flies like an arrow, but those traditional customs and festivals of the local inhabitants still remain naturally unchanged, from generation to generation. In the midst of the breath-taking wonderous maze of limestone isles, the images of those colorful fishing boats and floating villages will capture your heart at first sight. Not only does the famous natural heritage site adhere to your memory, but the cultural spotlights of these fishing villages are truly the gem that will make your memorable experience whole.

floating villages in ha long bay
Photo: Instagram @brightsidetrip 

Everything About Ha Long Bay – Vietnam’s Natural Wonder

Tan Dinh Market – A Truly Authentic Vietnamese Market

Insider’s Guide to Public Transportation in Saigon

The Long-Preserved Culture of Fishing Villages in Ha Long

The fishing culture of the local folks in Ha Long Bay is tied to the history and nature of hundreds of years, being one of the most charming and preciously preserved treasures of generations to come. You should definitely visit these beautiful fishing villages, such as Cua Van, Vong Vieng, and Ba Hang Villages. Only there can you experience the real Ha Long Bay, immerse yourself in the magnificence of the natural surroundings and the beauty of people’s everyday life.

Setting foot on the most beautiful fishing villages of the world located in the heart of Ha Long, you will be dazed by the peculiar wonders built by the locals. They are not fancy nor grandiose structures like other places in the world, but these rustic floating villages and those sincere smiles will bring you back to the roots of what it means to truly travel. Walking on the makeshift connecting panels from house to house, observing the tranquil life of the fishing locals, you will find peace in your soul.

fishing villages in ha long bay
Photo: Vietnam – Land of Ancient Secrets by Benn Jayms Tkalcevic

Fluctuat nec mergitur. “Fluctuating but not sinking” is the motto of Paris but surprisingly the Vietnamese sailors in this area also stand by this phrase. Being separated from the modernizing inland metropolises, the people suffer through and endure a lot of difficulties here, especially the lack of supplies and education. But that is just a comparative perspective to our world, when you see the happiness on their faces, and witness the colorful traditional practices of the locals you might feel differently.


The fishing occupation forms the unique culture of Ha Long Bay and many other beachfront provinces of Vietnam. This unique culture is also the foundation of festive events and customs of the land, for example worshiping whales and offering agricultural products to the God of the ocean. The locals’ physical and spiritual needs are more wholesome than anywhere else in the world, with those companion meetings, those floating weddings, fishing festivals and traditional children’s games, all talking place above the ocean’s surface.

floating fishing villages in ha long bay
Photo: Vietnam – Land of Ancient Secrets by Benn Jayms Tkalcevic

Exploring the area further will also reward you with the impeccable photogenic scenery of the harmony of man and nature. What could be more beautiful than a picture of the silhouette of the fishing boat undulating in the tosses of the waves, surrounded by stone pillars, shining in the golden rays of twilight? For once, you should make friends with the people, listen to the hearty folk songs, the mighty fishing chants and the touching stories of love and companionship, and connect to the locals’ life. Life is going to be much more beautiful.

The Fishing Villages that You Should Not Miss

There are a lot of fishing villages in the vicinity of Ha Long Bay, and there is a high chance that you will not have enough time to explore all of these. In that case, I recommend that you visit Cua Van Village, Vong Vieng Village, and Ba Hang Village.

Paying a visit to a fishing village in Ha Long Bay will surely contribute to the sustainable development of the destination and also the preservation of its cultural beauty. Not only gifting you with precious picturesque moments of a lifetime, a trip to the villages will bring you an unforgettable experience. Do you know how to ride a fishing boat, how to fish with a net or catch squid in the middle of the night, and then enjoy a freshly-made calamari dish right after?

floating market in ha long bay
There are a lot of fishing villages in the vicinity of Ha Long Bay

Getting to the fishing villages is still a bit tricky to date. You can either take a cruise trip from the tour operators in Ha Long or traverse by yourself from Cai Beo wharf, Cat Ba Island. The cruise trips range from 170 USD to over 400 USD, depending on the quality and the length of the trip (usually two days/one night to three days/two nights). It is best to spend a night in Ha Long city to get everything ready and note some recommendations from the host of your stay.

Say no more, let’s hop on the boat!

Cua Van Village

Boasting one of the most beautiful old villages in the world in 2012, Cua Van Village is truly a wonder of the fishermen’s realm. This village has three decisive factors that have led to its recognition as a top cultural destination of the world: it is truly antique, it has charming scenery, and it retains its cultural heritages from the past. This is why Cua Van Village should be on the top of your list.

In 2014, the People’s Committee of Ha Long city decided to move most of the floating fishing villages ashore to preserve the natural scenery and environment of the World Heritage of Ha Long Bay. Fortunately, Cua Van Village was among the chosen ones that was left untouched for tourism and culture preservation purposes. The village now consists of over 200 floating households, including a school, a culture house, and locals’ homes. There are more than 700 folks living in Cua Van Village, mostly fishermen.

This floating fishing village is 20 kilometers away from the shore, packed in an enclosed cluster of isles. Cua Van is also the biggest and the most touristy fishing village in the area. Therefore, it is the most accessible destination with frequent boat trips back and forth, prestige homestays and great restaurants with local fresh seafood cuisine. The village also offers kayak rental for you to explore around and visit the nearby caves.

Photo: Vietnam – Land of Ancient Secrets by Benn Jayms Tkalcevic

Vong Vieng Village

Vong Vieng (or Vung Vieng/Vong Chieng) floating fishing village is located in the heart of Bai Tu Long Bay, which is 24 kilometers offshore from Ha Long city. These villages are much smaller than Cua Van Village, with only around 160 inhabitants. While being a part of the ecotourism community of Ha Long Bay, the village is less visited and therefore, less modernized in the course of time.

ha long bay floating village
Photo: Vietnam – Land of Ancient Secrets by Benn Jayms Tkalcevic

Since it’s hugged by isles, the water is rather quiet and peaceful, which reflects the life of the village. This is the best destination to explore an idyllic fishing culture. The happy and hospitable folks are always willing to welcome outsiders and show them how to sail and to fish, or they may even take you on a night squid catching session.

Since the village is rather far away, the locals stay much closer to their traditional fishing lifestyle. They are close-knit and close to the sea, spending most of their life on the water. The boats are their homes, and the ocean is their motherland. Even a five-year-old kid knows how to row a boat and the whole family fishes together. In a fishing day, the children prepare the net and the baits, while their brothers and father retrieve the nets full of fish. The antiquity of their life makes everybody more connected to each other. Every activity takes place on the water, from bearing a newborn to bidding farewell to an elder.

Ba Hang (Three Caves) Village

If you don’t have the resources and time to spare for the two villages above, Ba Hang Village is the way to go. Located only six kilometers away from Ha Long city, this village is easily accessible to explore within a day. The village has a population of 50 people, which is one of the smallest amongst the offshore fishing villages in the bay.

Since it is much closer to the mainland, the Ba Hang Village is modern and developed, so you will only have a slight idea of the traditional fishing culture there. But that should not hold you back from exploring. Every activity available in the two other villages are also available here, from kayaking to fishing trips and midnight squid catching. In addition, you can row with the locals to the three surrounding caves, including the two most significant grottos of Ha Long Bay: the Thien Duong (Heaven) Cave and Dau Go Cave.

Photo: Vietnam – Land of Ancient Secrets by Benn Jayms Tkalcevic

Pristine scenery, long-traditioned lifestyle and fresh seafood, all of these and even more are waiting for you at the unique fishing villages of Ha Long Bay. Less known by most international travelers, these off-the-beaten-track villages are a must if you want to get away from the crowded cities and experience the real charm of Vietnam.

If you need more information about the Ha Long Bay and Ha Long City check out these articles:

Getting From Hanoi To Ha Long Bay

The Best Ha Long Bay Tours For Different Travel Styles & Budgets

Everything About Ha Long Bay – Vietnam’s Natural Wonder

If you enjoyed reading this article and would like some more fun info about what to see, do and eat (and a bunch of interesting cafes!) in Vietnam, follow us at the Christina’s blog!