Halong Bay in Vietnam

Halong Bay in Vietnam or the Descent of Dragon is a small bay belonging to the west coast of Gulf of Tonkin, including the sea islands of Halong City, the city Cam Pha and a part of Van Don Peninsula of Quang Ninh province.

Halong Bay in Vietnam

Halong Bay is limited in an area of ​​about 1553 square kilometers with 1969 large and small islands of all sizes and dimensions, most of which are limestone islands; the central region at the heart of the bay has an area of ​​335 km2 with a huge density of 775 islands. The history of orogenic activity and the formation of limestone in Halong Bay dates back about 500 million years ago with old and very different geographical conditions; and the complete evolution of karsts in Halong Bay has spent more than 20 million with a combination of factors such as the thick layers of limestone, the hot and humid climate and tectonic processes.

The combination of environment, climate, geology, and geomorphology…creates in Halong Bay a center of biodiversity, wetlands and coastal tropical ecosystems. 14 plant species and 60 endemic animal species were found among the thousands of animals and plants existing in Halong Bay.

Research results show that the presence of prehistoric inhabitants in Halong Bay dates from early: The culture of Soi Nhu dates back 18,000 years to 7,000 years BC, the culture of Cai Beo 7000 years to 5000 years before JC and Halong Bay culture dates back from 3500 years to 5000 years BC.

The process of creation and safeguarding the independence of the peoples of Vietnam along history has also confirmed the important role and the cultural status of Halong Bay through sites having names which are associated with historical references until today as the Mountain of the Poem, the cave of Hided Wood, the Bai Chay beach ... At present, thanks to favorable conditions and advantages of nature, Halong Bay is considered as great potentials for tourism, scientific research, aquaculture, fisheries and water transport ... Halong Bay is becoming one of center of Vietnam's economic development.

Halong Bay in Vietnam and titles:

Halong Bay was commended as a '' Wonder of stones under the sky '' there are more than 500 years in a poem written by Nguyen Trai, a Vietnamese poet recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Activist. In 1962, the Ministry of Culture and Information of Vietnam added Halong Bay to the list of National Heritages of the country.

In 1994, the central part of the bay Halong Bay been recognized as the World Natural Heritage by UNESCO thanks to aesthetic values. Then in 2000, Halong was recognized for the second time thanks to the overall and extra value of geology and geomorphology. With the Nha Trang Bay and Lang Co bay in central Vietnam, Halong Bay is in the list of 29 most beautiful bays in the world officially voted by the Club of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World in July 2003.

In 2011, the organization of the New 7 Wonders has recognized Ha Long Bay in Vietnam as one of the Seven New Natural Wonders of the World.

Halong Bay in Vietnam

Legend of Halong Bay:

Halong Bay or the Descent of the Dragon has been formed for ages by tectonic activities of the planet. However, some legends say that when the new Vietnamese State has been newly created, it was often attacked by the invaders. The Jade Emperor or King of Heaven sent the Mother Dragon and her children here to help the Vietnamese people to repel the enemy. From the sea, the enemy ships rushed into the bay when Dragons came down to earth. These dragons immediately grilled enemy ships by spitting fire. They also spat pearls to make the imposing stone walls to prevent enemy ships from entering and to crush the ships in collision to stop the attacks of foreign invaders.

After the victory, these Dragons saw peaceful landscapes, lush vegetation, the industrious inhabitants and solidarity to help each other ... the Dragon Mother and her children decided not to return to heaven, they remained there, where the battle took place to forever protect the people of Great Vietnam. The spot where the Mother Dragon landed was Halong Bay and her children Bai Tu Long and where the tail of the Dragons has stirred the waters became the island of Bach Long Vi (White Tail of the Dragon).

Another legend says that in the past, when the country was struggling against foreign invaders, a dragon followed the rivers to land in coastal rivers and made the walls in the North-East to prevent the attack of the enemy. The place where the Dragon has landed to protect the country is called Halong Bay.

Population in Halong Bay:

Halong Bay has 1969 islands but only 40 islands are inhabited. These islands of area of ​​about 20 to some thousand hectares were located mainly in the east and southeast of the bay. In recent decades, many fishermen living in floating houses on the water began to settle on some islands.

The population of Halong Bay has approximately 1540 people today, mostly inhabiting in the fishing villages as: Cua Van, Ba Hang, Cap De ... Most of the time, they live on the boat, or on houseboats to facilitate fishing and aquaculture. Today, the life of the local population knows a great development through tourism services. The visitors will use their small boats they handle to explore the life of fishermen in a romantic setting surrounded by limestone peaks.

Currently, 300 households living in the heart of Halong Bay settled on the islands or in order to stabilize the life and protect the landscape and environment of the World Heritage Site. Local government keeps only a few fishing villages to meet the needs of tourism in Halong Bay.

Halong Bay in Vietnam

Which season to visit Halong Bay?

Halong Bay is located in an area of coastal climate. Each year, there are two very distinct seasons, winter from November to April of the following year, the summer from May to October.

The average annual temperature is 23C. A small difference recorded between seasons is 16.7C to 28,6C. In summer, the average temperature is 34.9C, the warmest is 38C. In winter, the average temperature is 13.7C, the coldest is 5C but rare.

The average atmospheric precipitation is 1832mm per year, unevenly distributed according to two seasons. In summer, it rains from May to October to have 80- 85% of total annual rainfall. The highest rainfall in July and August, about 350 mm. The winter is the dry season, less rainfall, from November to April of the following year, which has only about 15-20% of total annual precipitation. There is less rainfall in December and January, only about 4 to 40 mm.

The air humidity is 84% ​​per year. The highest could reach up to 90%, at least up to 68%.

Due to the characteristics of the terrain and location, in Halong Bay, there are 2 distinct types of monsoons that are north wind in the winter and the southwest wind in the summer. The wind speed is 2.8m/s on average, the highest wind speed is the southwest having 45m/s.

Having the situation in a closed sea, Halong Bay is not often affected by large tropical typhoons, the maximum speed of the typhoon wind is generally at 9 or 10 in the Beaufort scale or 75km to 102 km per hour. Typhoons often happen in Halong Bay from mid-August until the end of October each year.

Beauty and tourism potential of Halong Bay:

Halong Bay is the World Natural Heritage classified by UNESCO (center part) with an area of ​​434 km², as a triangle with three points which are the island of Dau Go (in west), Ba Ham Lake (n south) and Cong Tay Island (in east), comprising 775 islands with caves and beaches. The adjacent portion is the National Heritage listed by the Ministry of Culture and Information of Vietnam since 1962. Halong Bay has a special topography: islands, mountains, seas, forests scattered…in a perfect harmony, by creating a beautiful and very balanced contrast from animated elements: stone, water and sky ... This is a beauty existing only in Halong Bay.

Halong Bay in Vietnam

The beauty of the islands with different forms:

Halong Bay has two types of stone: limestone and shale. According to statistics from the Administration Department of Halong Bay, among the 1,969 island, there are 1,921 rock islands; many islands have a height of about 200 m. It is the oldest image of the terrain with tectonic activities dating back 250 to 280 million years. The process of karsts erosion and weathering during the time formed the unique Halong Bay, with thousands of islands in many forms, of different sizes emerging from turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean.

The islands in Halong Bay have their own forms and do not look like all the other coastal islands of Vietnam. These islands are scattered in an area of ​​1553 km2, here it gives the impression of being on each other, although dense, thus many islands continues together to have impression to be protective walls… This island looks like a man's face looking toward the earth (the island of the Human Head), another looks like a dragon flying over the waters (Dragon Island), another island is similar to an old man fishing in line (Island of Old Fisherman), From far away, we have two sails emerging from the waves (island of Sails), these two islands there are like two roosters kissing on the waters (island of Couple) ... Local people are based on the shapes to give these names to the islands in Halong Bay.

The beauty of the caves:

Halong Bay is not only beautiful with rocks on blue-turquoise waters, with old boats of traditional original architecture to explore the landscapes ... but also with caves containing many historical vestiges. Cavers have confirmed that most caves of the bay had been formed during the period from 2 million to 11 thousand years ago. Here are the most famous caves in Halong Bay:

The Surprise Cave: Located in the heart of Halong Bay, the Surprises cave is located on Bo Hon Island. This is a very large cave and the most beautiful in the bay. The Cave of Surprises is at an altitude of 25 meters above the current level of the sea. With the area of ​​about 10,000m2, over 200 meters long, 80 meters at its widest point, the greatest distance from floor to ceiling is approximately 20 meters. The cave is divided into two main compartments.

The cave of Surprise in Halong Bay was discovered early enough, at the end of the 19th century. In 1999, the Administrative Department of the bay has arranged the cave, giving shape to a path, lights…so that visitors can observe and contemplate the beauty of stalagmites and stalactites inside.

The trail leading to the cave meanders under the foliage, with stone steps. The cave is divided into two main sections; the first is like a big theater with a huge ceiling covered by stalactites like in a fairy world. The second section is separated from the first by a narrow passage. While entering in the heart of this section, opens another section which can accommodate thousands of people. After leaving the cave, you can enjoy the panoramic view of Halong Bay in a unique angle.

Thien Cung Cave (Cave of Heavenly Palace): Located at the entrance of Halong Bay, Thien Cung measures 130 meters in length, with stalagmites like a magnificent temple. The cave is surrounded by high stone with strange shapes. Here are the four huge pillars with many strange shapes such as birds, fish, scenes of human life, flowers, branches, dancing fairies ... It is a work of nature for thousands of years. After a narrow entrance, the cave is hidden in the mountains but when you go inside, the cave is large and wide, ready to lead the spectators from a surprise to another.

After going out of it, you'll find another cave named cave of Hided Wood that the French people had named Cave of Wonders. If the cave of the Heavenly Palace is monumental and lively, this one is also big and sumptuous.

In 1917, the cave of Hided Wood was visited by King Khai Dinh and he had engraved praises of the beauty of the cave and Halong Bay on a stele which is still visible today at the entrance.

Some other caves: Outside of these two caves, in Halong Bay, there are still dozens of caves which are also beautiful and attractive such as: Bo Nau (Pelican), the Virgin's cave, the cave of Male, the Tunnel cave, the cave of Tien Ong (Buddha)…With over 1,969 islands, the administration Department said they could not have exact statistics on the number of caves in Halong Bay.

Halong Bay in Vietnam

Programs to visit Halong Bay:

Halong Bay, often judged as '' so touristic '', remains a place of first choice while travel in Vietnam by the incomparable beauty. Except for the possibility to go there by helicopter from Hanoi, travelers will usually go there from Hanoi by bus (4 hours), Ninh Binh or Halong Bay On Land (4 hours drive) Hai Phong (2h)…

For travelers who do not have much time, the itinerary: Hanoi - Halong Bay - Hanoi within a day with 3-4 hours of navigation on the bay is possible. Tour programs in Halong Bay normally last 2 days/1 night or 3 days/2 nights. More precisely as follows:

Program 2 days/1 night:

Day 1: You leave Hanoi (or Ninh Binh - Halong Bay Land). After about 4 hours drive, you get to Halong Bay for boarding the boat at 12h30 or 13h, depending on the different boat companies.

Lunch is served on board when the boat starts sailing in Halong Bay. You will be lost in a maze of limestone mountains with completely different forms. Around 15h, you visit a beautiful cave, a floating village…Then you climb on panoramic point named Titov to admire the picturesque bay. In fact, the order of the visit can vary depending on different junks. Overnight on board.

Day 2: After breakfast (Some boat companies offer Taichi taking place on the pontoon before breakfast), you continue to navigating in the bay. Around 9h to 10h, you release the cabins. Then you have lunch before leaving the boat around 11h30 (some boats do not serve the second lunch on board) to exit Halong Bay.

Program 3 days/2 nights:

Day 1: The same as the program of 2 days/1night.

Day 2: (If you share the boat with other passengers): After breakfast, a smaller boat will welcome you. You have the opportunity to visit remote areas of Halong Bay. Lunch is served on board. If you have private boat, you will stay on your boat, without change.

Day 3: Same as day 2 of program 2 days/1 night.

There are many travelers, especially the Japanese, Koreans peoples ... who realize the itinerary:  Hanoi - Halong Bay - Hanoi in one day. It is difficult because it takes about 8 hours drive by bus to have only 3 or 4 hour tour on Halong Bay.

Halong Bay in Vietnam

Halong Bay - Overnight on the junk or hotel?

In Halong, the city of the same name, there are many hotels to choose from the low budget to hotels 5 ***** hotels. In our opinion, you need to choose the night on the junk.

This is a very interesting experience especially in the Halong City, there are no much attractions. This city has only hotels and restaurants to serve local visitors and foreign travelers when Halong Bay is closed due to bad weather.

So which junk? That's a difficult question. In general, all the junks in Halong Bay are equipped with good security measures requested by the local authorities. Travelers are invited to choose the junk according to the budget and comfort.

The price of a night on Halong Bay with meals varies from approximately 90 USD to 500 USD per person, according to the different companies of junk: V'spirit, Bai Tho, Pelican, Halong Image, Baya, Paradise…Many junk companies have available shuttle buses to transport passengers from Hanoi - Halong Bay and vice versa...Please send us an email to: info@guideduvietnam.com for more detailed and free information on Halong Bay.