Halong Bay
Halong Bay

Halong Bay

 Halong Bay of Vietnam offers 3000 green limestone islands rising from the crystalline emerald water in the Gulf of Tonkin. Ha Long Bay also has tens of stunning limestone caves above and under water, and the diverse Eco-system which makes the bay listed as the World Heritage Site by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).

To the north, Halong Bay Islands run close to the Chinese border; to the south the islands run along Hai Phong City. The total is about 1553 km2. The special zone claimed specially protected by the UNESCO is about 300 km2. The biggest island is Cat Ba 354 km2 with the inhabitants living on agriculture and fisheries.

Junk cruise in the tranquility at Bo Nau Cave of Ha Long Bay
Junk cruise in the tranquility at Bo Nau Cave of Ha Long Bay
 
Halong Bay’s Climate
- January: below 10-18oC, often dry, sometimes wet due to drizzles and occasionally foggy.
- February: below 10-18oC, often dry, sometimes wet due to drizzles and often foggy.
- March: 15-22oC, often dry and often foggy.
- April: 20-28oC, dry and occasionally foggy.
- May: 30-35oC, humid, there are occasionally torrential rains which last for a couple of hour each.
- June: 33-40oC, humid, there are occasionally torrential rains which last for a couple of hour each. There are occasionally typhoons during which junks/boats are not allowed to set out and cruise on the bay.
- July: 30-40oC, humid, there are occasionally torrential rains which last for a couple of hour each. There are occasionally typhoons during which junks/boats are not allowed to set out and cruise on the bay.
- August: 25-35oC, not humid, there are occasionally torrential rains which last for a couple of hour each. There are occasionally typhoons during which junks/boats are not allowed to set out and cruise on the bay.
- September: 23-33oC, not humid, there are occasionally torrential rains which last for a couple of hour each. There are occasionally typhoons during which junks/boats are not allowed to set out and cruise on the bay.
- October: 20-28oC, not humid, there are occasionally torrential rains which last for a couple of hour each. There are sometimes typhoons during which junks/boats are not allowed to set out and cruise on the bay.
- November: 18-22oC, dry most of the time and wet due to drizzles sometimes. There could be, though rarely, typhoons on Halong Bay during this time.
- December: below 10-18oC, dry, normally clear sky and windy.
 
the Luon Lagoon on Halong Bay, Vietnam
The Luon Lagoon on Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay's Legend

Halong Bay (Vinh Ha Long) in Vietnamese means "the Bay of Descending Dragons". According the Vietnamese legend, the area was inhabited early by the Vietnamese who lived mainly on agriculture. There were a herd of dragons which brought about rain to water the paddy fields. Life was very peaceful and happy...

Human Head Islet Halong Bay Vietnam
Human Head Islet Halong Bay Vietnam

One day came the aggressors from the sea. They killed the people and looted the their villages. Their cries reached heaven and the dragons were sent down by the King of Heaven to help them. The dragons descended in the bay and spat out pearls which turned into limestone islands stopping the invaders' advance, they wriggled their tails to destroy the invaders' boats. Soon the invaders were defeated and peace was brought back to the country. The dragons remained in the bay to protect it forever.

Halong Bay Vietnam
The unreal beauty of Halong Bay reveals after half an hour cruise from the shore

The bay has two main areas: to the north was where the child dragons landed, hence the name Bai Tu Long Bay (or the Bay of the child dragons bowing to the mother); to the south was where the mother dragon landed which got it the name Halong Bay. Besides, there's an area near Cat Ba Island called Lan Ha Bay (or " the Summer Orchid Bay") which got the name from the wild orchid flowers here in the summer.

 Halong Bay from the top of Ti Tov Mountain
Halong Bay from the top of Ti Tov Mountain

Halong Bay's Geology

Researches proved that Halong Bay was created by the undulation processes which took place on the earth surface from around 300 million years off and on to 175 million years ago. The wave-like motions involved cracking, sinking and lifting some areas and the islands were created. There are water lines at top of some caves in the bay which proves that it was underwater some time in the past. Sometimes, Halong Bay was a fresh-water region; there are still vestiges of ancient rivers which ran in the middle of the bay area; and at Me Cung Cave lots of fossilized shells of fresh water mollusk are still found.

Swan Islet Halong Bay Vietnam
Swan Islet Halong Bay Vietnam

Most mountain and islands of Halong Bay are of limestone with colors ranging from chalky white to black. Thre are stunning colorful caves on many islands. There are many secret lagoons and lakes of which some can be accessed at low tides only. At high tides the opening is under water.

At most points in Halong Bay, the water depth ranges from 4 meters to 8 meters. Near the open water (such as that at Cua Van) it may be 45 meters deep.

 Sunset on Halong Bay
Sunset on Halong Bay

Halong Bay's Civilizations
The earliest civilization recorded in Halong Bay was around 3500 - 2000 BC and it was called Cai Be Civilization. This one seemed to have connections with other civilizations in Vietnam of the time such as Dong Son, Hoa Binh, Sa Huynh, Oc Eo to create the golden period in the prehistoric times of Vietnam.

Halong Bay's Tourist Highlights
Halong Fish Market: Ha Long fish market is in Hon Gai Town with different kinds of seafood caught in Halong Bay. There are also different kinds of electronic goods nearby. From Bai Chay Town you can hire a Xe Om or taxi to get to Halong Fish Market via Bai Chay suspension bridge.

Dau Go Cave is on an island 7km from the shore. The cave was where the Vietnamese troops hid stakes which were later used for make traps in the war against the Mongol troops in the 13th century.

Near Dau Go cave (on the same island) is Thien Cung Cave (Cave of Heavenly Palace) with unreal rock formations which make it have a heavenly look. Visit both Dau Go and Thien Cung would take 1.5 hour.

Dinh Huong Islet Halong Bay Vietnam
The Dinh Huong Islet Halong Bay Vietnam is among the first islands of Halong Bay encountered on a cruise

Ti Tov Beach was where Ho Chi Minh and Ti Tov - a Russian astronaut  had a swim while Vietnam was at war. The beach was named after the Russian one. At top of Ti Tov Island, there an observation tower which offers stunning panoramic view of Halong Bay.

Sung Sot Cave (the Cave of Amazement) and amazing it is. The cave is large of over 200 m long and it was under water during the glacier time. The ceiling still has the punching marks of water that time. It's quite a walk to this cave, though the reward is definitely worth it!

Halong Bay Vietnam
The real paradise of Halong Bay of Vietnam with the unreal beauty

Luon Lagoon is one among several lagoons on Halong Bay which has only 1 opening as the entrance. The lagoons are surrounding by towering limestone mountains. Some lagoons are accessible at low tide only as the opening is underwater at high tide.

Me Cung Cave (Cave of Labyrinth) is in a mountain on a sea passage to Cua Van and the open sea. The cave offers magnificent views of the surrounding and the secret lagoon created by the same mountain.

Oyster farms there are quite a few oyster farms out on Halong Bay which can be visited on a rowing boat or by kayaking.

Floating villages are home to fishermen on Halong Bay. They live there for life and travel to the shore every few days for food and daily necessities. There are also floating school on the bay. These villages are easily visited by rowing boat and kayak.

Travel and Tours in Halong Bay
Have Long Bay can be visited by boat for 3-8 hours upon request. Or the traveler can book a luxurious junk cruise on Halong Bay with overnight on board in the wild of the bay. There are options to book a private cabin on a shared junk or book a chartered junk cruise.

Kayaking is an option for the travellers who would like to visit the unseen lagoons, mountains and islands that are not accessible by big boat.

From Ha Noi you can take a 1-day, 2-day or 3-day tours to Halong Bay. The travelers who like to take kayaking tours or combine the tour with a trip on Cat Ba Island can extend the time.

Halong Bay Wild Cruise
Halong Bay Wild Cruise
 
Paradissa, an experienced tour agency and cruise agency for luxury cruises on Halong Bay could help you with memorable cruises on this natural wonder of Vietnam.

On Paradissa’s 2-day luxury cruises on Halong Bay, you’ll visit the the most beautiful area of Halong Bay with overnight on board near Sung Sot Cave. The highlights: lovely cruise amid spectacular scenery, sensational fresh seafood, amazing caving experience, spectacular panoramas of Halong Bay from the top of Ti Tov Mountain.

A luxury cruise boat on Halong Bay
A luxury cruise boat on Halong Bay

On Paradissa’s 3-day luxury cruises on Halong Bay, you’ll get all the highlights as on a 2-day cruise. Besides, you’ll have another full day cruising father afield depending on the weather it could be a cruise plus kayaking amid unreal kastic formations near Cat Ba with myriads hidden caves and lagoons or it could be lovely kayaking in the secret lagoon of Ho Ba Ham.

Accommodation in Halong City:
There are many hotels in Ha Long City ranging from simple guest houses to luxurious 4 star hotels. Rooms and services range from simple and basic, adventure to luxury travel. There are hotels high in the hills which offer lovely panorama of Halong Bay. There is a resort on Tuan Chau Island for those who love on the beach for a few days.

A spacious cabin on a luxury cruise boat on Halong Bay
A spacious cabin on a luxury cruise boat on Halong Bay

Getting there and away
By air:  Halong Bay is 1 hour flight by helicopter from Gia Lam Airport in Ha Noi.
By road: Halong Bay is 160km or 3.5 hours drive from Ha Noi. The road is fairly good, though traffic may be very busy. There are many local bus companies from commuting between Ha Noi - Halong City. The buses don't have seat number and the driver may stop many times to pick up more passengers on the way until it's totally stuffed. Also all commuter bus drivers have to hurry to pick up as many people as possible on the way; they drive very recklessly.

Halong Bay can also be visited by road from Hai Phong. It's only 70km between the 2 cities and the drive takes 1 hour.

By boat: From Hai Phong you can take a speed boat for 1 hour to Cat Ba where you take a 5 hour boat cruise weaving through Halong Bay islands.

Sunset cruise on Halong Bay Vietnam
Sunset cruise on Halong Bay Vietnam

Getting around Halong
On foot: Bai Chay Town ( the tourist area of Halong City) can easily be explore on foot. There are nice walk on the waterfront and it's safe to stroll here at night.
Taxi: Halong taxi (with meter) can be called for longer distances in the city, say from Bai Chay to Hon Gai (the area for the local residents)
Xe Om (motorbike taxi): There are many Xe Oms with drivers on every corner of Halong City who are ready to take you anywhere in town.
Boat: to visit Halong Bay then having a boat cruise is a must. There are different boat classes ranging from simply converted fishing boat to air-conditioned luxurious junks.