A Look Into Beautiful Halong Bay in North Vietnam
Halong Bay: Deservedly Designated UNESCO World Heritage Site
Halong Bay is a declared UNESCO World heritage site located in the Gulf of Tonkin, in the north shores of Vietnam. It is a beautiful turquoise Bay with an archipelago composed of more than 3000 islands of all shapes and forms, with characteristic limestone cliffs covered in green vegetation, protruding from the ocean’s surface.
If you are a nature lover, this place will enchant you with its many awe striking sites, and majestic natural composition. If you are visiting Vietnam, it is something you definitely need to see.
Halong means “Descending Dragon”, a suitable metaphor that accurately describes the thousands of island with bizarre rock formations that are within this bay, and resemble the backbends of a landing dragon.
Turquoise Waters of Halong Bay
Halong Bay’s Magical Erosive Creations
Some of Halong Bay’s mountainous islands have grottos created by the wind and the filtering water, which makes its way from the top of the cliff to the emerald waters of the gulf. The grottos are so elaborated and so full of all-sized-figures that it is hard to believe that such a thing could happen without two hands and a chisel.
Halong Bay is a beautiful example of the effect wind erosion has on the landscape, not just shown in the grottos, but all throughout the limestone elongated islands, particularly those with ridiculously slim bases. I reckon this phenomena adds another special mystifying touch to the place if you care to imagine the invisible, yet obviously existing powerful wind, carving away the elements of nature, on and on for centuries.
Kayaking during Sunset
Wind Erosion and the Mesmerizing Result of Halong Bay
A wonderful aspect of Halong Bay is that it has so many islands and rock pillars, that every turn comes up with a surprise: another astounding sculpture, a perfect archway through the mountains, a peaceful lagoon where you can Kayak and enjoy the scenery……..
Floating Fishing Stations in Halong Bay
Another particular curiosity of Halong Bay is that, while sailing among the many islands, you will occasionally come across floating fishing "stations", which are hovering in the middle of nowhere and make quite a perplexing and interesting site. This is where fishermen live and work every day, and it is such a basic existence that one can’t help but be surprised and keep pondering it for a while.
Beautiful Images of Halong Bay, VietnamClick thumbnail to view full-size
Vietnam's Tiniest White Sand Beaches
Among the sculptured islands and rock formations, Halong Bay also hides many deserted tiny white sand beaches that you can visit by boat, stop and enjoy for a while, and be surrounded by nothing but nature, nature, nature……
When to Go
I was in Halong Bay during the rainy season (March). IUfortunately didn’t rain but there was a lot of fog and the sun hid on and off behind the passing clouds. I don’t particularly recommend it as the best time to visit. It was not cold, but it wasn´t warm enough to make you want to jump into the cold water. I reckon April would be a better month: no clouds, no fog, plus when the sun shines and illuminates the Bay, it comes to glow in its entire colorful splendor.
How to Visit Halong Bay
Most tourists visit the area hiring tour operators that take them from Hanoi (The capital of Vietnam) to Halong City Harbor (a short bus trip), where you step into a fairly small un-motorized cruise with 8 to 10 cabins that sails you through the Bay, the islands and the fishing floating stations, besides sleeping and eating on board.
Because the cruises remain low density and the group of people with which you travel is small, the experience, all though quite touristy, is very pleasant.
I reserved my boat trip in the hotel I was staying at in Hanoi and the service was very good. I had a cozy little cabin with a queen size bed and private bathroom in a wooden, double decker, old fashioned boat, with a windowed dining room—from which you can appreciate the view—and a deck to enjoy the fresh air; just perfect.
The whole Halong Bay experience feels like a big leap into the past where you will find some famous pirate/trader coming into life from old literature, sailing in a sophisticated yet adventurous way through a virgin ecosystem.
Old Fashioned Cruises and Floating Fishing Camps at Halong BayClick thumbnail to view full-size
Halong Bay's Most Impressive Grotto
Grottos in Halong Bay
The boat tour will probably take you to the most visited grotto in Halong Bay, a massive cave formation on top of one of the mountain-islands. It is a cave complexly sculpted by the forces of nature. The ceiling, walls and floor are covered in stalactites, stalagmites and all sorts of strange formations. The cavern is well illuminated for one to fully appreciate the splendor of this majestic piece of art.
Aerial View of Halong Bay (Taken from the Grotto’s Entrance)
Cat Ba Town
Cat Ba Island
The Boat Cruise through Halong Bay includes an overnight stay in Cat Ba Island, the only populated island of them all.
Cat Ba has a little town of about thirteen thousand plus inhabitants and nice long beaches, where you can swim, take pleasant walks, sit back and relax or enjoy a seaside meal.
Most importantly, Cat Ba Island is home to Cat Ba National Park, where hiking, trekking and/or biking are a pleasant way to explore the local flora and fauna.