HA LONG BAY – WORLD NATURAL WONDER
HA LONG BAY – WORLD NATURAL WONDER
Halong Bay is a beautiful natural wonder in northern Vietnam near the Chinese border. The Bay is dotted with 1,600 limestone islands and islets and covers an area of over 1,500 sqkm. This extraordinary area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. For many tourists, this place is like something right out of a movie. The fact is that Halong Bay features a wide range of biodiversity, while the surrealistic scenery has indeed featured in endless movies.
HOW TO GET TO HA LONG BAY?
The best way to get to Halong City is by car, minibus or bus from Hanoi which is only 170km away. If budget is not a problem, an hour-long helicopter transfer is also available.
Towering limestone pillars and tiny islets topped by forest rise from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1994, Halong Bay’s scatter of islands, dotted with wind- and wave-eroded grottoes, is a vision of ethereal beauty and, unsurprisingly, northern Vietnam’s number one-tourism hub.
Sprawling Halong City (also known as Bai Chay) is the bay’s main gateway, but its high-rises are a disappointing doorstep to this site. Most visitors opt for cruise tours that include sleeping on board within the bay, while a growing number are deciding to eschew the main bay completely, heading straight for Cat Ba Island from where trips to less-visited but equally alluring Lan Ha Bay are easily set up. All visitors must purchase entry tickets for the national park (40,000d) and there are also separate admission tickets for attractions in the bay, such as caves and fishing villages (30,000d to 50,000d).
Even in a country with the diversity of Vietnam, the spectacular seascape at Ha Long Bay can stun the most powerful into humility.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is in northeastern Vietnam’s Gulf of Tonkin, in Quang Ninh Province. The lush emerald and turquoise waters harbor over 1,600 mostly uninhabited—and thereby undisturbed—islands and islets, according to UNESCO.
In Vietnamese, Ha Long means “descending dragon.” Dragons play a prominent role in Vietnamese culture, and the most popular legend has it that one such creature and her children descended from heaven to defend the Viet people from invaders, spraying fire and emeralds or jade. She and her children then stayed on Earth.
The jewels eventually formed towering limestone formations, and over millennia, their protective crags and jagged edges evolved into the backdrop of green islands, towers, and water relished by visitors. A nearby bay, Bai Tu Long, refers to the children of the dragon.
“These legends strike a chord with Vietnamese beliefs and history in two ways,” says Hanh Tran, lecturer of South and Southeast Asian studies at the University of California, Berkeley. “First, the history of fighting against invaders. Second, the belief that Viet people are descended from a dragon father (Lac Long Quan) and a fairy mother (Au Co), and that there is a sacred, hidden power to support them in their war efforts.”
That’s not to reduce the charm of Ha Long Bay to the fanciful. From a scientific viewpoint, it’s remarkable as “a very evolved, very advanced, unusual looking karst landscape,” says Robert Brinkmann, professor of geology, environment, and sustainability at Hofstra University in New York. Most such formations are on land, such as in Florida or Puerto Rico, and not on the water.
WHAT TO DO IN HA LONG BAY?
Cruising Tours in Halong Bay
Ha Long Bay is the best place to enjoy relaxing, cruising tours in Vietnam to enjoy stunning views of the bay. There are so many types of cruises in Halong, from middle to high class, offering many choices and styles to enjoy wonderful cruises in Ha Long Bay – Vietnam. Travelers can choose from day tour to Ha Long Bay or two or even more days of cruising in Ha Long Bay.
Kayaking Tours in Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay is the most wonderful place to enjoy kayaking, adventure tours in Vietnam. Choose to enjoy kayaking in Ha Long Bay from two to six days to explore the best of Ha Long Bay, enjoy kayaking to explore caves, floating villages to discover remote areas in the bay which cannot be access by the big cruises in Ha Long Bay.
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