Country: Vietnam Language: Vietnamese Currency: Vietnamese Dong (₫)
Halong Bay is a mesmerizing scatter of tiny islets, east of Hanoi. Its emerald green waters and majestic limestone landforms cannot fail to arouse a sense of wonderment. Nguyen Tai, a poet, once described it as the ‘rock wonder in the sky’. It’s mysterious, it’s magical, and it’s a destination that stays in your memory.
Halong Bay was designated a World Heritage Site in 1994. Its area covers 1,553 square kilometers with 120 kilometers of coastline. There are over 3,000 islets, many of which are extraordinarily steep, and topped with thick green growth. Legend has it that dragons dropped jewels and jade from their mouths into the bay, creating the islands. Halong Bay actually means ‘descending dragon baby’. Tropical downpours over 500 million years have worn down the limestone landforms to what they are today.
The best way to visit Halong Bay is by cruise. A plethora of cruise companies operate in the bay. Prices range from basic to deluxe, experiences from budget to 5-star, and trip durations vary from day trips, two day/one night cruises or three day/two night cruises. The cruises are well organized, informative and welcoming. They provide much insight into the wonder of the islets and more into Vietnamese culture. The drive from Hanoi takes almost four hours, and will likely be organized through your selected cruise company.
An overnight cruise will give you more time to explore the beaches, caves, grottos and floating villages which, incidentally, are diminishing rapidly as the government encourages people to choose urban life. An overnight cruise also gives you the opportunity to swim or kayak. But best of all, you experience the thrill of watching the sunset and rise again behind the surreal panorama.
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