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Ha Long Bay

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97 reviews of Ha Long Bay

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Legend of the dragon

After the traffic, pollution, and chaos of Hanoi, we ventured to the interior of Quảng Ninh province to explore the vibrant rice paddies and flower plantations. We arrived at a small port full were greeted by a large boat with orange sails which for two days transported us to a magical realm.

The name Ha Long means "descending dragon." According to legend, the Jade Emperor ordered a dragon to help stop the Chinese sea invasion. The dragon swooped down from the sky, spitting chunks of jade and destroying the enemy ships. These chunks of jade went on to form the many islands which we see today. The legend also says that the dragon is still alive and sleeping at the bottom of the bay.

During the morning, the bay tends to be covered in fog which lends a fascinating air of mystery to the islands and karst formations. You occasionally cross paths will conch vendors in their little boats which adds a touch of color and life to the surroundings. At night, the boat lowers its sails and drops anchors, letting you spend the night floating in the calm waters beneath an incredibly starry sky.
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A singular place

Ha Long Bay is located in northeast Vietnam and has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage due to the unique geological processes which have created an incredible number of islands and caves. You typically visit the bay in boats which hold about 25 people and have on-board restaurants which serve meals during the cruise.

If you want to enjoy the best landscapes in Vietnam while learning a bit about its history, I’d really recommend visiting Ha Long Bay.
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An amazing place

Ha Long Bay is in the Quảng Ninh Province of North Vietnam. This lovely place is home to almost 2000 islands with over 1000 different shapes and sizes. Many are nothing more than the tip of a seamount, while others are filled with exotic plants and coves and caves. Travel agencies in major Vietnamese cities offer charter boats which often anchor the boats in the middle of the bay for an overnight trip. Even if you are adventure lovers, you should take the most expensive offer (after haggling, of course). From a Western point of view, it is still affordable and saves us from surprises like discovering you have rats as cabin mates. My journey through northern Vietnam was amazing and it’s a very beautiful place.
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It is certainly the most spectacular scenery in Vietnam. This bay is located north of the country, on the Gulf of Tonkin near the Chinese border and 170 km east of Hanoi. It extends along a coastline of 120 km. The presence of karst formations and islands of various sizes and shapes, there are 1969 islands (mostly unnamed). The name of the Bay (Ha Long) means descending dragon, according to legend, the Jade Emperor ordered a celestial dragon in order to stop the enemies from invading at sea. The dragon spat jade pieces that were used to destroy the enemy boats and well formed, with pieces of jade, the islets we currently see. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994. The most striking feature of this incredible site is that the water just doesn't move at all, it is perfectly still, and that its color changes depending on the time of day.
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Halong's dragon

We sit on the patio of our lavish ship as the sun fades behind the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tokin. My mother lights a cigarette – she doesn't normally smoke. I join her. Downstairs in the dining area, a drunken, newly-wed couple from France sings Karaoke. The sound hangs repugnant in the air like a foul smell refusing to shift. The bartender looks on; the others clear the tables.

The sun melts into puddles of different shades of red and orange. Around us rise dozens of karst peaks from the ocean floor – each wind and rain cut. They appear menacing, I think – foreboding and ominous. The boat softly rocks; around us float several other ships each anchored for the night. They glow. In the distance, I see fishermen and fisherwomen pull up their nets and return to their homes. People live on these islands. Our guide tells us they struggle to get decent education. The darkness blankets us; the gargantuan peaks stand still. I hope.

Vietnamese sailors speak of the Tarasque – a pre-historic sea leviathan, a Moby-dick, a sea-creature of gigantic proportions. They say she haunts the waters of Halong Bay, swimming underneath the fleet of tourist vessels, scaring away awe-struck visitors with heavy, clicking cameras. Does she not want to share this beauty? Some tourists rent their own Chinese-style junk boats and go-off in search of the mythical creature. The drunken singing intensifies; I can hear loud laughter emanating from another boat – the sound bounces out into sea. Will she come?

In 1994, UNESCO declared the bay a World Heritage Site. In 2011, a budget cruise boat sank claiming the lives of 11 tourists and one Vietnamese tour guide.

Legend holds that the karst peaks – imagine well-knuckled fists rising from the water – and the little islands dotting the bay emerged from a dragon’s ramblings. She rushed towards the water and her tail cut-out valleys and crevasses. She sullenly sunk into the water and as it spilled out, only the limestone shards remained.

The next morning we dock at a small island with a lovely strip of sand. Some go to the beach; others climb to a lookout. From above, a row of stony islets descend in order of height –tallest, tall, short, shortest - as if they are falling one-by-one into the sea. They resemble a monster, or are, maybe, a monster. Descending steadily and stealthily as a hunter would, the chimera glides underneath the water slowly encircling our boat and entrapping its prey. And there bobs our cruise ship above the creature’s head, its teeth white and sharp just below the surface and behind rise those magnificent peaks.
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One of the most beautiful places that i visited

During my trip to Vietnam this was without a doubt one of the most beautiful places that I visited, if you have the chance to visit, do not miss it.
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Local life

Fishing is a huge part of daily life in Vietnam and every morning fisherman line up and display their catches.
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Near Ha Long Bay

  • Hai Long Dream
    300 m away
  • Halong bay tour
    1,6 km away
  • Il Golfo del Tonchino
    2,3 km away
  • Passeio no barco Emeraude na Baia de Ha Long
    2,3 km away
  • Cueva de las Maravillas. Halong
    5,2 km away
  • Vung Vieng Fishing Village
    5,8 km away
  • Kayak
    8,2 km away
  • Halong City Tourist Office
    11,0 km away
  • Sung Sot Cave
    12,8 km away
  • Cat Ba Island,Vietnam
    18,5 km away
  • Floating Villages in Halong Bay
    20,2 km away
  • Surprising Caves
    39,3 km away
  • Night in Halong Bay
    39,4 km away
  • Sphere of flowers
    39,4 km away
  • Pelican Halong Cruise Restaurante
    1,5 km away
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