With over 5 million international visitors to annually, Halong Bay undoubtedly tops Vietnam’s list of must-see attractions. Formed by tectonic movements over the course of half a billion years, the bay boasts vibrant aquamarine waters and 2,000 vegetation-topped island karsts as far as the eye can see.
And situated roughly 10 km (6 mi) from mainland Halong is one of the region’s most stunning landmarks: Ti Top Island. Perhaps just as captivating as the white sandy beach and hilltop summit with spectacular panoramic views is the history behind this picturesque islet.
How Ti Top Island Got Its Name
The island’s designation originates in 1962 when Soviet cosmonaut, Gherman Titov, toured Halong Bay with then-President Ho Chi Minh. The Vietnamese felt incredibly honoured by the visit, as Titov had just become the second human to orbit Earth the previous year (and just four months after fellow Russian, Yuri Gagarin).
Because the astronaut was so enamored with the sheer beauty of Halong, Uncle Ho decided to rename Island No. 48 to Ti Top (the Vietnamese pronunciation of his name) to solidify the friendship between the two icons as well as their respective countries. Titov would later return to the island in 1997, expressing his deep gratitude to the Vietnamese by writing in the island’s guestbook: “My deepest thanks to destiny, which has allowed me to come back to this tiny island.”
To posthumously honour the cosmonaut once again, on what would have been Gherman Titov’s 80th birthday in September 2015 (he passed away in 2000), the People’s Committee of Quang Ninh province erected a statue of the legend at the island’s entrance to welcome visitors.
Beach Activities on Ti Top Island
One of Ti Top’s key distinctions is that it is one of the very few islands in Halong with a sandy beach (neighboring Lan Ha Bay, on the other hand, has 139 beaches). Along this pristine, crescent-shaped sandy shoreline, guests can take a refreshing swim, explore the surroundings by kayak or go snorkeling. Visitors who prefer to stay on land can lay out on a sun lounger, order tropical beverages or sample the fresh, local seafood.
The Greatest Views of Halong Bay
For the active types, it is highly recommended to hike up to the summit of Ti Top Island. Make sure to bring a camera and appropriate footwear, as the 400-step climb to the top is not an easy one. Fortunately, the 110-metre (360 ft) ascent is more than worth the effort, as guests are rewarded with arguably the most spectacular, 360-degree panoramic views of Halong Bay and surrounding limestone islets.
How to get to Ti Top Island
The only way to get to Ti Top Island is by boat, most of which are full-day or overnight cruises which include the island as one of the stops in their itinerary.
For those who would like to experience Ti Top along with the most memorable sights of the bay while cruising in splendor, Heritage Line offers both 1- and 2-night luxury cruises in Halong Bay aboard two of our beautiful ships, the romantic, suites-only Violet and traditional, wooden Jasmine.