Long Chau lighthouse, a holy eye in the sea
Update: May 23, 2023
The Long Chau lighthouse, the oldest and largest one in Vietnam, has truly stood the test of time since 1894, about 50 km off the shore of Hai Phong city. It has been a holy eye to light and guide the way for tens of thousands of ships travelling in the Tonkin Gulf and Vietnam’s waters. Exploring the Long Chau lighthouse is a fantastic and unforgettable journey in Hai Phong city.

Long Chau archipelago where the lighthouse sits (Photo: Nguyen Tuan Anh)

To visit this piece of history is an exciting voyage in itself. Boarding a speedboat at Cai Beo tourist pier in the center of Cat Ba town, it takes visitors about an hour to reach the Long Chau archipelago, where Vietnam’s oldest and largest lighthouse lies. On a clear sunny afternoon, you can see how the lighthouse reflects its shadow in the deep blue sea.

The Long Chau lighthouse is built on one of the largest rock islands in Vietnam, which is about 1 sq.km. It takes about 20 minutes to leisurely walk from the pier to the lighthouse on a narrow, zigzagging path along the impressive rock cliff. The visitors can feel the pulse of their hearts race when they walk up the along the cliff and dare not look down on where the racing waves crash against the rocks.

The Long Chau lighthouse has a dome-shaped structure surrounded by sensational tempered glass panes. Nguyen Manh Hung, Head of the Long Chau Lighthouse Station, said: “The lighthouse was built by the French and put into operation in 1894. Its task is to guide the vessels when passing through the Gulf of Tonkin. Vietnam took over the lighthouse in 1955. And for the last 129 years, the Long Chau lighthouse has remained a faithful guide to all the seafarers and is still fully operational to this day. The sound structure has stood the test of time, remaining fully intact over for 129 years. During the anti-US war in Vietnam, bombs sadly damaged a small part of foundation, fortunately this did not cause any structural damage and the lighthouse remains as it was originally built without having to undergo any repairs.”

Long Chau lighthouse in Hai Phong (Photo: Nguyen Tuan Anh)

To reach the lighthouse there are about 100 steps leading up to the peak. Hung introduces: “The lighthouse stands 110 meters above sea level. Its foundation is 80 meters and the light is 30 meters.”

At the center of the room on top of the lighthouse is a system of light bulbs. Hung said, the lights have never stopped shining for 129 years. On clear sky night, seaman can see the guiding lights from about 50 km away.                  

“The light system never stops working. There are main lights and backup lights. When the main lights have problems, the backup lights will kick in immediately. The lights of the lighthouse will always shine,” said Hung.

Looking down from the top of the lighthouse, the Long Chau archipelago is like a cluster of stones scattered in a giant pool. As the sun sets and the night falls on the island, the Long Chau lighthouse faithfully continues to illuminate the way for thousands of ships in the East Sea as it has done over the last 129 years.

VOVWORLD - vovworld.vn - May 11, 2023