Ha Long Bay is an area of about 1,600 floating islands in northern Vietnam. These small islands float in the emerald colored waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, rising high above the water! Discover why you should visit Ha Long Bay in Vietnam!
Quick Facts About Ha Long Bay
- Ha Long Bay is located in Quang Ninh Province, along the northeastern coast of Vietnam.
- Ha Long Bay is located about 180 km by car from Hanoi.
- Translated from Vietnamese, Ha Long means "descending dragon".
- Ha Long Bay includes over 1,600 islets. The bay stretches 120 km along the northeastern coastline of Vietnam. Most of the little islands are limestone and topped with lush jungle vegetation. The islands rise on average 50 to 100 meters from the emerald waters of the ocean. Some of the islands are caves. Some islets have stunning beaches.
- Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Why Visit Ha Long Bay
- Ha Long Bay is a beautiful natural sight. It has about 1,600 small islands floating in the emerald colored waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. These islets rise on average 50 to 100 meters from the water. Most of the little islands are limestone and topped with lush jungle vegetation.
- There is a lot of diversity among the islands in Ha Long Bay. Some of the islands are caves. Some islets feature stunning beaches. Many islands are covered with jungle vegetations. Some islands look like jagged rocks. The islands vary in size and height.
- Ha Long Bay is a great natural example of geological evolution that took place over hundreds of millions of years. This long process involved many factors including the natural erosion by salt water, the raising of the islands above the sea, advance of the sea, seawater engraving the limestone islands, and many other events.
- Visiting Ha Long Bay is one of the best things to explore in northern Vietnam. Other interesting sights include Hanoi and hiking around the Sapa area.
- If you like cruise ships, Ha Long Bay is a great sight to explore on a cruise ship. You can take a 3-day (2-night) luxury cruise over Ha Long Bay and experience this spectacular area at a slower pace than most tourists.
A small community of local people lives on Ha Long Bay in several fishing villages. They live in floating houses and sustain themselves through fishing. If you take the cruise along the Ha Long Bay, you can observe these authentic floating fishing villages.
How Ha Long Bay Was Formed
Ha Long Bay has been formed through millions of years of gradual geological evolution. This long process involved many factors including the advance of the sea, the natural erosion by salt water, the raising of the islands above the sea, seawater engraving the limestone islands, and many other natural factors.
The limestone karst landscape on the Ha Long Bay took about 20 million years to develop in a hot tropical climate. The present landscape of islets started forming about 7,000 years ago by the advance of the sea and the process of strong erosion by the salted sea water.
Best Way to Explore Ha Long Bay
The best way to explore Ha Long Bay is to book either an overnight cruise or a day cruise. I recommend taking a 3-day (2-nights) overnight cruise. This way, you get to explore a lot of Ha Long Bay, without crowds and at a leisurely pace.
- Overnight Cruise. There are many choices available. It's best to do your research prior to arriving in Ha Long Bay to make sure you book the best possible option. The choices range from luxury cruises to basic ones. You can take a 3-day (2-nights) cruise or a 2-day (1-night) cruise. All cruise ships follow similar routes, it's the amenities on the boat that make all the difference. Many cruises also provide the transfer from Hanoi to the ship.
- Day Cruise. One of the cheapest options is to take a day cruise and explore Ha Long Bay without staying overnight on a ship. You can take a day cruise from Tuan Chau Marina in Halong City. The advantage of taking a day cruise is that you can often book it on the spot. However, day cruises tend to get crowded.
How to Get to Ha Long Bay
The best base for traveling to Ha Long Bay is from Hanoi. An expressway connects Hanoi and Halong City, which makes it easy to get to Ha Long Bay by car. Some cruises also offer transfer from Hanoi to the departure point at Ha Long Bay.