The fishermen and fishing families of Halong Bay live on small floating houses anchored in sheltered coves at the bases of tall mountainous islands, thus deriving some natural protection from Mother Nature’s wrath in typhoon season. These families have lived in this village for generations. The village is a “floating village” with no structures built on land. Traditionally, income for food and potable water (imported from the mainland) came solely from fishing. Now tourism provides an additional source of income. There are several fishing villages in the bay, the largest being Vung Vieng with about 130 floating houses and a population of about 600 people. The children learn to swim before they can walk and they row little bamboo-basket water craft on their own, and amazingly deftly, when only about 5 or 6 years old.
Vung Vieng is at the top of any list of places to see when cruising Halong Bay, those who are lucky enough to visit are captivated by this extraordinary little community and its distinctive way of life. Their floating houses look spacious and clean. One community house is where villagers come to have meetings. This is also the place where tourists stop over to buy traditional handmade items.
It is interesting to see the lively children going to “school”. Their bustling calls and the sound of their oars breaking water enliven the atmosphere of the quiet bay. Looking at the small boats driven by tiny oars and the radiant faces of the children going to school, one feels confident in a bright future for the fishing village.
Vung Vieng is unique as it is the only village with a primary school and a clinic (floating, of course). The village is home to generations of fishing families and many of the residents never leave, but grow up and grow old in this tiny unique world they are born into.