Visit Halong Vietnam

Halong Bay is a body of water of approximately 1,500 square kilometres in north Vietnam with a 120 kilometre coastline, in the Gulf of Tonkin Gulf of Tonkin near the border with China, and 170 kilometres east of Hanoi. Ha Long Bay - means "Bay of the Descending Dragon" in the Vietnamese language,

The bay consists of a dense cluster of 3000 limestone monolithic islands, each topped with thick jungle vegetation, which rise spectacularly from the ocean. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves. Hang Dau Go (Wooden stakes Cave) is the largest grotto in the Halong bay area. French tourists visited in the late 19th century, and named the cave Grotte des Merveilles. Its three large chambers contain large numerous stalactites and stalagmites (as well as 19th century French graffiti).

Some of the islands support floating villages of fishermen, who ply the shallow waters for 200 species of fish and 450 different kinds of mollusks. Many of the islands have acquired their names as a result of interpretation of their unusual shapes: such names include Voi Islet (elephant), Ga Choi Islet (fighting cock), and Mai Nha Islet (roof). 989 of the islands have been given names. Birds and animals including bantams, antelopes, monkeys, and iguanas also live on some of the islands.

The Halong Bay was World Heritage listed by UNESCO at the 18th meeting of the Committee of the World Heritages of UNESCO (in Thailand on December 17th, 1994). It is one of Vietnam's most popular tourist destinations.

Halong Bay has been the setting for local naval battles against Vietnam's coastal neighbours. On three occasions in the labyrinth of channels between the islands the Vietnamese army stopped the Chinese from landing. In 1288 General Tran Hung Dao stopped Mongol ships from sailing up the nearby Bach Dang River by placing steel-tipped wooden stakes at high tide, sinking the Mongol Dubhai Khan's fleet.

A cruise in Ha Long Bay -- or the Bay of the Descending Dragon -- for many represents the pinnacle of their experience in Vietnam. easily one of the most popular destinations in the country, UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ha Long Bay is both mystical and magnificent, an incredible feat of nature that almost never fails to impress.

Yes, it really is that good.

It's not the cliffs themselves that make Halong Cruises unique, but rather their sheer number. A huge bay, dotted with nearly 2,000 mostly uninhabited limestone cliffs, the breathtaking scenery is very similar to that of the Andaman coast of Thailand, Vang Vieng in Laos and Guilin in China.

In what constitutes one of the most fascinating cultural features of the area, some of these fisherman still live on the bay today -- on floating fishing villages, where houses are set atop barges year round, the inhabitants catching and cultivating fish throughout.

Halong Bay cruises mostly run out of Hanoi or the coastal town of Halong City (which faces out and over the bay). There are hundreds of agencies selling tours on the bay, but very few actually run their own boats -- instead most are consolidators or resellers. Organizing a tour is very much a buyer beware scenario -- talk to other travelers and shop around -- if you're paying $15 a head for a two day tour of Ha Long Bay rest assured it will be pretty dodgy. Try to include a stay on Cat Ba Island if you can.