Halong Bay is a home of ancient Viet people with three continuous pre-historic cultures about 18,000 to 3,500, namely: Soi Nhu culture, Cai Beo culture, and Ha Long culture.
Soi Nhụ culture (about 18,000 to 7,000 years ago): concentrated in limestone islands of Ha Long Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay. The typical archeological remains of this culture can be found at Mê Cung, Thiên Long, Tiên Ông…
The main living method of Soi Nhu people was catching shellfish, picking fruit… This cave-culture is illustrated by traces of mountain snail (Cyclophorus) and stream snail (Melania) and some other fresh-water mollusks. These findings have shown that in comparison with Hòa Bình – Bắc Sơn culture of the same period, the cultural model of the Soi Nhụ people was more developed. This is evident in their adaptation to the marine environment.
Cái Bèo culture (from 7,000 to 5,000 years ago): is a link between Soi Nhụ culture and Hạ Long culture. The typical archeological relics of this culture have been found at sheltered areas in Ha Long Bay, such as: Cái Bèo, Hà Giát, Giáp Khẩu…
Cái Bèo people made their livelihood not only by the traditional methods of hunting and picking but also by marine exploitation. Archaeological relics of Cái Bèo culture have proved that our ancestors adapted to the marine environment sooner than believed, developing a great culture with its own identity.
Hạ Long culture (from 4,500 to 3,500 years ago) is divided into 2 stages: earlier and later.
Halong culture in the earlier stage: was the result of middle-Holocene marine transgression in the period of 6,000 to 5,000 years ago. This caused the loss of a habitable environment for the Cái Bèo people and resulted in most people moving to the northeast region where the earlier Halong Culture was created. The main living styles of people in this culture were hunting, picking, cultivating. Technical knowledge such as pottery and stone tool making had been well-developed.
Halong culture in the later stage: came about as the result of the period of maximum marine transgression. This culture developed with the migration of Halong people into the plains, midlands and mountainous areas. The Halong people’s habitats were relatively diverse and included caves, mountain peaks and sand bars. The typical archaeological relics of this culture are: Bái Tử Long cave, Soi Nhụ cave, and Ngọc Vừng island….
In this stage, living methods of Halong people basically linked to marine environment. Techniques for making labor tools in this stage became more skillful. Soft pottery had become the distinctive ‘Halong Pottery’. Specifically, they created typical stepped and shouldered axes and adzes to enhance the capacity of the earning living method Halong culture in the later stage plays an important role in the ancient Viet civilization.
Halong Bay – the place which marked the foundation of the nation and its protection history.
With its important location, from the beginning of the 12th century (in 1149), during the dynasty of King Ly Anh Tong, Van Don trading port has been established and become an active center for trade and cultural exchange during the dynasties of Ly, Tran, and Le. This is the first international trading port of Vietnam.
In the history of the nation foundation and protection of Vietnam, Halong Bay also is the place of three glorious victories for the Vietnamese people from the 10th to the 20th centuries. There were famous national heroes, namely: Ngo Quyen in 938, Le Hoan in 981, and Tran Hung Dao and Tran Khanh Du in 1288. It also featured prominently in two wars against foreign aggressors: the French and the Americans.
At present, in Halong Bay area, many important cultural and historical relics have been found. Especially, the fishing communities who live on the Bay still remain its own special culture, enriching native Halong Culture. Their unique culture is typified by folklore performance such as “ask and answer” singing, sea shanties, wedding songs, and many other traditional ceremonies.