Halong Bay

About 170km (or 3.5 hour drive) east of Hanoi, Halong Bay or Descending Dragon Bay is a must-see destination in the North for any traveler to Vietnam. The bay which is twice recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site features thousands of dramatic limestone karsts outcropping from the emerald water.

Halong Bay
Legend has it that once upon a time, a family of dragons was sent to the Earth by the God to help the Vietnamese defend the homeland against the Northern invaders. The dragon family appeared in the battle and began spitting out their jewels which turned into islands and islets linking together to create an invincible wall to protect the country. After the invaders were completely swept away, the dragons were in love with the peaceful landscape and decided to stay in this land and the area where the dragons descended is the today Halong Bay.

Gone through millions of formation, the geo-diversity of the environment has created biodiversity, including tropical evergreen, oceanic and sea shore ecosystem. The bay is also home to wind- and wave-eroded grottoes and caves. Each cavern contains rugged stalactites and stalagmites in various sizes and shapes, all open to interpretation.
Halong bay overview from Titop island
Halong Bay overview from Titop island with thousand of karst islets and cruises passing by

The best way to discover the bay’s natural beauty is aboard a traditional wooden junk. Though you can visit the bay year-round, the best time to visit Halong bay is from March to June. It is recommended to stay at least two days with one night overnight onboard instead of a day cruise which only shows you a glimpse, so you can get the full insight of the bay with sunrise, sunset, cavern exploration, water-based activities, beach and delicious seafood.

Apart from natural beauty, Halong Bay has been chosen as the backdrop of two James Bond movies. Though it may be hard to imagine a speedboat chasing through such serenity, how can you blame them for taking advantage of the cinematic scenery?

Bai Tu Long Bay

To the northeast Halong, the sinking limestone area continues for about 100km to the Chinese border, Bai Tu Long Bay offers the breathtaking scenery as its renowned sister yet more untouched with small deserted beaches, coral reefs, mangrove forests. Despite an increasing popularity recently, the bay and its islands remain relatively undeveloped, which means no pollution and also little tourism infrastructure. The bay is perfect for those who love traveling off the beaten path, a laid-back alternative to the crowded Halong Bay. 

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