The grotto is on Driftwood Island. Seen from afar,
the entrance to the grotto appears to be blue, and
has a shape similar to that of a jellyfish. After 90
steps up the island, the entrance is reached. The
ceiling of the grotto is about 25 m. Hundreds of
stalactites falling down from the roof of the grotto
look like a waterfall.
The grotto is divided into three main parts.
The exterior is a room with a vault full of natural
light. Many forms may be seen in the rock formations
of the chamber, depending on the imagination of the
visitor of course.
Crossing the first chamber, one enters the second
chamber through a narrow passage. The light here is
mysterious, and new images appear in the stone. It
makes us having a fear and be inquisitive.
The third chamber of the grotto is widely opened. At
the end of the grotto is a well of clear water.
Looking up in the dim light we recognize that
surrounded is the image of an ancient citadel and a
scuffle of elephants, horses, man with bristly sword
and spear. All are making a rush and be petrified
The name Driftwood Grotto came from a popular story
of the resistance war against the Yuan - Mongolian
aggressors. In a decisive battle, Trân Hung Đao was
given the order to prepare many ironwood stakes
here, to be planted on the riverbed of Bach Đang
River. The remaining wooden pieces found in the
grotto have given it its present name.
And the name Giâu Gô is associated with the legend
that General Trân Hung Đao (1226-1300) hid ironwood
stakes in preparation for the Bach Đang battle
against the Yuan-Mongolian invaders.
If the Thiên Cung Grotto is monumental and modern
(in its natural form), then Driftwood Grotto is
solemn, but also grandiose. In "Marvels of the
World," published in France in 1938, the author
called the grotto "Grotte des merveilles" (a site of
In the first chamber, in the very middle of the
grotto, is a colossal pillar supporting the large
vault. On the top of the pillar, there appears to be
a monk draped in a long, dark cloak, with his right
hand clasping a cane.
The second chamber is narrow. Here, the stalactites
look smaller but more graceful. One feels like going
to a pagoda with a monk in meditation so that one
steps more gently.
The third chamber features high stone columns out of
which nature has carved images of a large kingdom,
of heroes and soldiers holding swords and spears
rushing up, of war elephants and horses or lions,
etc. All of them suddenly was petrified and remained
there for good.
In 1917, Emperor Khai Đinh came to visit the grotto,
and amazed by the beauty of the place, ordered the
erection of an engraved stone stele singing the
praises of Ha Long Bay and the grotto. Today, it
remains to the right-hand side of the entrance.