Halong Bay is located in Quang Ninh Province, 180 km of Hanoi, surrounded by Bai Tu Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay, Cat Ba Island, Tuan Chau Island and Ha Long City. A spectacular seascape of some 1,600 limestone islands and islets towering from emerald water, Halong Bay is also an outstanding example of earth’s history. Those limestone pillars are covered by lush green of tropical plants and boast amazing karst grottoes, caves and caverns. The Bay was first recorded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 thanks to its exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.
According to the Sino-Vietnamese, “Ha” means descending and “Long” means dragon. Therefore, Halong Bay literally means “the bay of the descending dragon”, a fusion of ancient mythology and Vietnamese history.
Many travelers are unaware that Halong Bay actually has an immense value to the world because of its rare concentration of biodiversity, culture and history. Most visitors opt for cruise tours that include sleeping on board within the bay, while a growing number are deciding to eschew the main bay completely, heading straight for Cat Ba Island from where trips to less-visited but equally alluring Lan Ha Bay are easily set up.
Cruising the green islands is the only way to truly experience Halong Bay. On a wooden junk or cruise vessel, you can take in the picture-perfect serenity of the area from balcony, sun deck and the front of the boat in complete luxury. Watch the sun rise and set over the Bay, all pink and orange and plump, and breathe the fresh air – tangy with salt – deep into your lungs, recharging your soul.