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A Look Into Beautiful Halong Bay in North Vietnam

Halong Bay: Deservedly Designated UNESCO World Heritage Site

Halong Bay is a declared UNESCO World heritage site located in the Gulf of Tonkin, in the north shores of Vietnam. It is a beautiful turquoise Bay with an archipelago composed of more than 3000 islands of all shapes and forms, with characteristic limestone cliffs covered in green vegetation, protruding from the ocean’s surface.

If you are a nature lover, this place will enchant you with its many awe striking sites, and majestic natural composition. If you are visiting Vietnam, it is something you definitely need to see.

Halong means “Descending Dragon”, a suitable metaphor that accurately describes the thousands of island with bizarre rock formations that are within this bay, and resemble the backbends of a landing dragon.

Turquoise Waters of Halong Bay

Results of water and wind erosion on the limestone cliffs of Halong Bay, Vietnam.

Results of water and wind erosion on the limestone cliffs of Halong Bay, Vietnam.

Halong Bay’s Magical Erosive Creations

Some of Halong Bay’s mountainous islands have grottos created by the wind and the filtering water, which makes its way from the top of the cliff to the emerald waters of the gulf. The grottos are so elaborated and so full of all-sized-figures that it is hard to believe that such a thing could happen without two hands and a chisel.

Halong Bay is a beautiful example of the effect wind erosion has on the landscape, not just shown in the grottos, but all throughout the limestone elongated islands, particularly those with ridiculously slim bases. I reckon this phenomena adds another special mystifying touch to the place if you care to imagine the invisible, yet obviously existing powerful wind, carving away the elements of nature, on and on for centuries.

Kayaking during Sunset

Aerial View of Halong Bay at sunset (Vietnam).

Aerial View of Halong Bay at sunset (Vietnam).

Wind Erosion and the Mesmerizing Result of Halong Bay

A wonderful aspect of Halong Bay is that it has so many islands and rock pillars, that every turn comes up with a surprise: another astounding sculpture, a perfect archway through the mountains, a peaceful lagoon where you can Kayak and enjoy the scenery……..

Floating Fishing Stations in Halong Bay

Another particular curiosity of Halong Bay is that, while sailing among the many islands, you will occasionally come across floating fishing "stations", which are hovering in the middle of nowhere and make quite a perplexing and interesting site. This is where fishermen live and work every day, and it is such a basic existence that one can’t help but be surprised and keep pondering it for a while.

Vietnam's Tiniest White Sand Beaches

Among the sculptured islands and rock formations, Halong Bay also hides many deserted tiny white sand beaches that you can visit by boat, stop and enjoy for a while, and be surrounded by nothing but nature, nature, nature……

When to Go

I was in Halong Bay during the rainy season (March). IUfortunately didn’t rain but there was a lot of fog and the sun hid on and off behind the passing clouds. I don’t particularly recommend it as the best time to visit. It was not cold, but it wasn´t warm enough to make you want to jump into the cold water. I reckon April would be a better month: no clouds, no fog, plus when the sun shines and illuminates the Bay, it comes to glow in its entire colorful splendor.

How to Visit Halong Bay

Most tourists visit the area hiring tour operators that take them from Hanoi (The capital of Vietnam) to Halong City Harbor (a short bus trip), where you step into a fairly small un-motorized cruise with 8 to 10 cabins that sails you through the Bay, the islands and the fishing floating stations, besides sleeping and eating on board.

Because the cruises remain low density and the group of people with which you travel is small, the experience, all though quite touristy, is very pleasant.

I reserved my boat trip in the hotel I was staying at in Hanoi and the service was very good. I had a cozy little cabin with a queen size bed and private bathroom in a wooden, double decker, old fashioned boat, with a windowed dining room—from which you can appreciate the view—and a deck to enjoy the fresh air; just perfect.

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The whole Halong Bay experience feels like a big leap into the past where you will find some famous pirate/trader coming into life from old literature, sailing in a sophisticated yet adventurous way through a virgin ecosystem.

Halong Bay's Most Impressive Grotto

Water and wind erosion and the resulting sculptures at one of Halong Bay's Grottos. Halong Bay, Vietnam.

Water and wind erosion and the resulting sculptures at one of Halong Bay's Grottos. Halong Bay, Vietnam.

Grottos in Halong Bay

The boat tour will probably take you to the most visited grotto in Halong Bay, a massive cave formation on top of one of the mountain-islands. It is a cave complexly sculpted by the forces of nature. The ceiling, walls and floor are covered in stalactites, stalagmites and all sorts of strange formations. The cavern is well illuminated for one to fully appreciate the splendor of this majestic piece of art.

Aerial View of Halong Bay (Taken from the Grotto’s Entrance)

UNESCO World Heritage Site "Halong Bay" in North Vietnam.

UNESCO World Heritage Site "Halong Bay" in North Vietnam.

Cat Ba Town

Cat Ba Town, Cat BA Island, Halong Bay, Vietnam.

Cat Ba Town, Cat BA Island, Halong Bay, Vietnam.

Cat Ba Island

The Boat Cruise through Halong Bay includes an overnight stay in Cat Ba Island, the only populated island of them all.

Cat Ba has a little town of about thirteen thousand plus inhabitants and nice long beaches, where you can swim, take pleasant walks, sit back and relax or enjoy a seaside meal.

Most importantly, Cat Ba Island is home to Cat Ba National Park, where hiking, trekking and/or biking are a pleasant way to explore the local flora and fauna.


Vietnam & Its Iconic Peasant Hat


Travel Poll

Comments on "Halong Bay, Vietnam"

Donna Herron from USA on December 29, 2015:

This looks like an amazing trip and your photos are beautiful. Congratulations on your well deserved HOTD. Looking forward to your next trip and adventure!

Chris from Dubai UAE on December 28, 2015:

Wow, the view from the kayak must be amazing

Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on December 28, 2015:

Congratulations for HOTD you deserve it, very nice article.

Enjoy seeing photos of other parts of the world, we are very lucky to live on such a pretty planet.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on December 28, 2015:

Claudia, thanks for sharing this magnificent hub. This sounds like a magical place to go in North Vietnam with those lovely pics for this travelogue. Kudos and congrats on your HOTD!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on December 28, 2015:

Congratulations for the HOTD!

This sure looks like a beautiful place, worth visiting. Lovely pictures and great description.

Thank you for sharing!

StormsHalted from Pullman, Washington, United States on December 28, 2015:

Great Place ..... Tiny white beaches .............. one for each ....... hahaha

Claudia Tello (author) from Mexico on September 20, 2014:

Hi benhungto, thanks for your interest in this Hub I wrote about Halong Bay, being from Vietnam, I am sure you knew already many things about it. Yes indeed, I´ve visited Sapa and it was an extraordinary experience, I also wrote a hub about it and it is actually one of my best performing hubs!

Do Tung from Vietnam on September 20, 2014:

Halong Bay is best place in north Vietnam. Have you visited Sapa? It is also really nice

Claudia Tello (author) from Mexico on June 27, 2013:

orientalsails, thanks for the feedback :) I am glad you liked them.

orientalsails on June 27, 2013:

Your Video and Photos are awesome!!!

Claudia Tello (author) from Mexico on March 12, 2012:

Hi JB, I wish I could, that would be a good pretext to visit Halong Bay again and, once I am there, go to some other interesting places in Vietnam.

JB on March 12, 2012:

Congratulation Claudia!

its a lovely place, maybe you could be my tourguide lol


Claudia Tello (author) from Mexico on March 08, 2012:

Hi Irka, traveling and travel photography are two of my passions and I certainly have left many things on the line to go to these places. Vietnam in particular, was one of the most folkloric experiences, and Halong Bay specifically, one of the most beautiful natural places I’ve seen (no wonder it was designated a world heritage site).

I appreciate your feedback and lovely compliments very much! THANKS


Claudia Tello (author) from Mexico on March 08, 2012:

Thanks Jano, I hope one day you do go to Vietnam and get to see Halong Bay first hand.

Claudia Tello (author) from Mexico on March 08, 2012:

Hi sgbrown, thanks so much for your generous feedback and comments, you are making me blush! :) It is my pleasure to have you reading this hub and enjoying the pictures I took of Halong Bay, they wouldn’t have any value stashed away in my computer.

irka winniczuk on March 07, 2012:

Yes I also think you are very fortunate to have had the opportunity to see so many different places on this planet. You have a knack for describing and picturing the essence of each place you write about!!! Your photos are awesome!!!

Jano on March 07, 2012:

It certainly makes you want to go and visit Halong Bay!

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on March 07, 2012:

Amazing! You are so fortunate to be able to travel to all these wonderful places. Your hub is wonderful and this place is awesomely beautiful! Thank you for sharing such a beautiful experience! Voted up and awesome! :)

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