The name Hạ Long is derived from the Sino-Vietnamese 下龍, meaning “descending dragon”.
Before 19th century, the name Halong Bay had not been recorded in the old books of our country. It has been called An Bang, Luc Thuy, Van Don… Late 19th century, the name Halong Bay has appeared on the Maritime map of France. “Haiphong News” published in French, has reported: ” Dragon appears on Halong Bay”. The story can be summarized as follows: In 1898, lieutenant Lagoredin captain of Avalangso met a couple of giant sea snake on Halong Bay three times. Not only the lieutenant but also many other sailors saw those species. The European thought that those animals looked like Asian dragon. Maybe the appearance of strange animals led to the name of Quang Ninh sea area today: Halong Bay
According to local legend, when Vietnam had just started to develop into a country, they had to fight against invaders. To assist the Vietnamese in defending their country, the gods sent a family of dragons as protectors. This family of dragons began spitting out jewels and jade. These jewels turned into the islands and islets dotting the bay, linking together to form a great wall against the invaders. Under magics, numerous rock mountains abruptly appeared on the sea, ahead of invaders’ ships; the forward ships struck the rocks and each other. After winning the battle, the dragons were interested in peaceful sightseeing of the Earth, and then decided to live in this bay. The place where the mother dragon descended was named Hạ Long, the place where the dragon’s children attended upon their mother was called Bái Tử Long island (Bái: attend upon, Tử: children, Long: dragon), and the place where the dragon’s children wriggled their tails violently was called Bạch Long Vỹ island (Bạch: white-color of the foam made when Dragon’s children wriggled, Long: dragon, Vỹ: tail), present day Trà Cổ peninsula, Móng Cái.