EXPLORING HA LONG BAY – A SHINING PEARL IN NORTHERN VIETNAM
Endowed with thousands of limestone islands scattering upon turquoise water, Ha Long Bay is known as a must-see destination in Vietnam. This great attraction locates in Quang Ninh province, one of significant economic, cultural and tourism hub of the country. Ha Long was recognized by UNESCO twice as World Natural Heritage for its profound aesthetic, historical and geological value. The uniqueness in the geological foundation of spectacular seascape, outstanding scenic beauty and the richness in culture and cuisine of Ha Long attracts thousands of tourists every year.
If you travel to Vietnam, it is a must to visit the most spectacular destination – Ha Long Bay!
Ha Long Bay Destination
In Vietnamese, Ha Long Bay means “descending dragon.” This name originates from a local legend which has been passed down to many generations to explain the magnificent formation of Ha Long. It is said that when the country was in the recent establishment, it was frequently attacked by nearby colonists from the sea route. To protect the country, a family of dragons was sent down to defend them from the enemy. The dragons split jades, which later turned to prominent islets, and fire to destroyed all enemy’s boats.
Admiring the beautiful scenery of this seaside area, the dragon family decided not to go back and settled down in this bay. Where the mother dragon descended is Ha Long, where the children dragon attended is Bai Tu Long. This story is only one of many legends, myths and folk tales surrounding Ha Long Bay which connects the nature with people’s virtue. Although we all know just geological explanation can clarify how Ha Long Bay was formed, those legends and folklores still make tourists stunned about Vietnamese national psyche.
Ha Long – A nature wonder
Ha Long Bay has gone through 500 million years of formations in different weather and conditions, explaining its geographical significance. It is known as the most important karst topography in the world formed after millions of years of erosion, which creates outstanding islands and limestone caves. View from above, thousands of green islets and grottos emerging from pristine water make Ha Long look picturesque. The mother nature also crafts this place with tropical biodiversity and oceanic biosystem. Aside from natural beauty, Ha Long is essential as an archaeological site as many evidence has proved early inhabitance of prehistoric human beings for early 20,000 years. Having such considerable values, this place is worthwhile visiting and definitely won’t let down your expectation.
Location and How to get to Ha Long Bay
Lying on the Gulf of Tonkin, which belongs to Quang Ninh province, Ha Long city has a fortunate position: back up by mountain and face the East sea. Ha Noi – Ha Long has become a frequent tourist route in the north, which takes us 4 hours of driving from the city center. There are a variety of transportations offered to get to Ha Long, including bus, train, and even seaplane. Riding a motorbike to Ha Long is not a bad idea if you prefer more excitement along the way. However, make sure you have proper health for 5-hour of driving.
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The weather in Ha Long divides into two different seasons: winter from November to April and summer from May to October. The best time to visit Ha Long is in the summer from April to June, or September to November. At this time the sky is bright with lots of sunshine that is ideal for beach activities, sunbathing on deck and taking great photos.
You had better be cautious about the weather before visiting Ha Long from June to August. Storms sweep through the area several times during these months, and you don’t want to spend your whole holiday inside your hotel. The winter which lasts from November to March is also the low season in Ha Long. If you are budget travelers, consider visiting Ha Long this time because you might get good deals from travel companies.
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Halong bay activities
There are countless things to see and do in Ha Long Bay, but experiencing a cruise tour should be put on top priority. It’s quite hard to explore Ha Long Bay by yourself, so it is recommended that you book a full package tour with a proper itinerary. There are a lot of regular cruise tours that you can book from Ha Noi or in Ha Long. Usually, the trip offered already include transfer service from the city, accommodation on cruise, meals, tour guide and some recreational added facilities. The price and service quality are categorized from 1 to 5 star just like a hotel.
Depending on the itinerary, the cruise will take you to some famous spots in Ha Long Bay such as Sung Sot Cave, Thien Cung Cave, Ti Top Islets. The best thing to do on a cruise is sunbathing on deck and admiring the view around you. After doing island hopping, you can register for some thrilling recreational activities such as sea kayaking around karst formation, rock climbing or scuba diving. If you prefer more chilling experience, you can enjoy a pleasant seafood barbeque on the beach with your family.
If you are spending more than 2 days in Ha Long, consider exploring nearby Monkey Island, Cat Ba Island or Lan Ha Bay. You can hike across the island as there are numerous scenic trails, that will take your adventurous soul to the lush greenery and fantastic wildlife.