Tourist’s guide to Halong Bay – world famous bay of Vietnam

Halong Bay (Vietnam) is one of the most beautiful places in the region, a national park, which is on the UNESCO list. About 3000 islands with beaches and grottoes are scattered over an area of ​​about one and a half thousand square meters. kilometers. In the Halong Bay – magnificent landscapes that simply fascinate everyone who came here, especially during the hours of dawn and sunset.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Where is Halong Bay located?

It is said that the word “halong” is translated as “the place where the dragon sank into the sea.” Probably because dolomite and limestone rocks protruding from the water resemble the vertebrae of the giant neck of an ancient pangolin. According to legend, the local Serpent Gorynych first created the island of Halong, and then made the landscape on the shore with his tail. Finally, he sank into the water, and only fragments of land remained on the surface.

Halong bay

Halong Bay is located in the Gulf of Tonkin of the South China Sea. You can get here by minibus or car from the capital of Vietnam – Hanoi (the most convenient starting point for sending). It is approximately 150-170 kilometers from the city. The journey will take 3-4 hours.

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It is better to come to the bay from December to May, when the days are dry and warm. True, it’s cool in the bay in winter, about 20 degrees of heat in the afternoon. From August to October is also good, but there are typhoons, and the temperature holds about 30 degrees. Although Halong Bay is charming at any time of the year. Even in the pouring rain, you will take a lot of great photos and bring with you only the best emotions.

Bay Water Housing
Water settlement

Fifteen hundred Vietnamese live here, whose main income is tourists. Someone rolls visitors on stunning sailing ships, someone sells exotic fruits, someone sells fish. There are fishing villages here, which also boil their own lives. It’s hard to believe, but people in Halong Bay buy water (as we have land), build a raft in its place, and so live in families. By the way, floating villages are always “built” near a spacious cave, where one could hide if a typhoon suddenly flies up.

Halong – both the city and the bay

On one of the islands is the city of Halong. There is a huge pier, where many majestic ships built in the traditions of Vietnam find their refuge. The city is located about 165 km from Hanoi. It is divided into two parts: the eastern, working part, where there are factories and offices and the western tourist. The two parts of Halong are connected by a bridge.

Photo: Halong City, Vietnam
Halong City

As a tourist center of Vietnam, Halong is a beginner. Previously, it was known (in addition to the bay) only by coal mining. But still it is not the city that attracts tourists, but the bay itself. Ships are surrounded by picturesque cliffs on all sides. Moreover, when you sail on a ship, depending on the perspective, the islands change their color. The islands near are green, the further away are dark gray, and on the foggy horizon silvery. There is a feeling that there is an alien landscape around.

Now they are actively offering tours of this bay of Vietnam with visits to grottoes, small fishing villages and neighboring islands. On one of the mountains there is a magnificent observation deck, from where you can take wonderful photos of Halong Bay. On average, a tour lasts 4–5 hours (which will fly by quickly) and costs from $ 25 per person.

Things to do in Halong Bay

Halong Bay – a beckoning spot for its untouched nature, a wonderful place in Vietnam. Here people live on the sea waves, huddle on small pieces of land, in the company of only underwater creatures and wild monkeys. The latter persistently beg for a treat from tourists. Here you will surely find something to do.

Sea cruise
Deck of a cruise ship

Although Halong Bay, as it is called in English, is protected by UNESCO, visitors are still carried around the islands. True, the Vietnamese are quite law-abiding people, so they try to adhere to the rules so as not to harm nature. However, this does not prevent particularly cunning sailors from inviting tourists to their outdated vessels, enticing low prices. So do not settle for suspiciously good offers, on some ships it is simply unsafe.

Photo: Halong Bay Ship

Halong cruises are available on any wallet and, accordingly, service. Usually, meals are also included in riding along the bay: from rice with potatoes and lecho to the most varied and delicious dishes. Programs on cruises on the bay are rich, so in the cabin you will only have time to sleep. From the early morning (usually from 6 o’clock) the day already begins. Vacationers are offered roasting and fragrant Vietnamese coffee with buns and fruits. For those who wish – charging Tai Chi. Well and, of course, sightseeing.

Local coca love to hold master classes. Usually, for example, they offer simple, but tasty Vietnamese dishes like spring rolls or Nem pancakes.

Photo: stalagmite cave
Stalactite cave

Picturesque views between the cliffs and cliffs of the bay can be admired even from the cabins. The boats adhere to several of the islands of Halong Bay prepared for the arrival of visitors. Guides take to the observation deck, and then to the cave. The grottoes, by the way, are wonderful. Everywhere stalactites and stalagmites, an amazing relief of a stone and, of course, illumination. Somewhere, just a yellow light burns, somewhere colored lamps … In some places, the timid ray of the sun breaks from the surface. All together creates an impression of unreality.

Of the entertainment on a Halong Bay cruise, fishing will surely be. And fishing or squid can be offered even at night. At night, the water in the bay is even more beautiful – in places it glows, and the bay seems truly mysterious.

Pearl Factory, Vietnam
In the pearl factory

Halong Bay (Vietnam) is also a place where pearls are grown. During the cruise, you may be asked to visit Pearl House, the pearl factory. Here your ideas about how brave divers, risking their lives, hold their breath and scour the bottom in search of precious shells, will collapse. Here the production of organic jewelry is put on stream.

The last stage of pearl mining

The factory will talk about all stages of production. No one waits for years until a shell layer of pearl grows naturally in a shell. In the shells thrust blanks – beads from pressed shells. Then they release the mollusk on free bread for about several months, and only then they take out the finished pearl from it. After such treatment, some mollusks die. In general, the life of these sea creatures cannot be called easy – they are injected like damned ones.

Luon Cave in Halong Bay
Tourists in Luon Cave

Luon Cave is a lagoon in the territory of Halong Bay (although it is strange: from the English language. Cave is a cave). It turns out that the lagoon in the bay. Luon Cave is surrounded on all sides by cliffs, and getting there is not easy. If you are sailing on a yacht on a cruise, then to sail into the lagoon, the ship anchors. Passengers loaded on boats or kayaks and sail to the pier. From there – to bamboo boats, because deep into the lagoon on motorboats is impossible.

Places where a large number of tourists are brought are always teeming with enterprising sellers. And even this lagoon, far from the cities of Vietnam and large routes, the merchants did not ignore. Local cleverly maneuver between the boats on which foreign guests sit, and smartly offer their simple goods: snacks, drinks, fruits, souvenirs.

Boat Traders in the Gulf of Vietnam
“Floating shops”

Interestingly, in return for tax breaks and the ability to trade seafood, Vietnamese from floating villages should clean up the trash left by tourists. By the way, sailing on a ship, be prepared that local merchants can take you on board. They swim in a boat, cling to a hook and climb into the windows with their belongings.

Kayak swim

For those who are ready not just to sit statically on a boat, but to pick up a paddle, there is another entertainment – kayaking. Some efforts will have to be made here, but the impressions will be even more vivid than when examining all the charms of the bay from the ship. The most amazing thing is that no one limits you here. You see a pretty grotto – please swim under it, you want to land on the shore of the bay and take a walk for your pleasure – if you please.

Bay Kayaking

Each Halong rock that looms threateningly above your head can be touched with your hand. If you are hungry, then on the way you will surely meet the merchants mentioned above, they will gladly sell you something to eat.

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Beach Holidays in Halong

There are no natural beaches in Halong Bay. Most of them are artificially created, so if you want it on a wild beach, you will have to look around the bay. The most convenient way to do this is kayaking. By the way, each island is special. Somewhere you can dive with a mask and flippers and look at bright fish. Somewhere at night, sea fish is perfectly caught. Halong Bay in Vietnam (photos confirm this) is surprisingly diverse and beautiful.

Photo: Kathba Island
Cat Ba Beach
      1. Katba (a national park in Vietnam) is known for mangroves, coral reefs, and for a beach holiday it is better to go here too. The infrastructure of the islands does not reach the popular beaches of Vietnam. But the inconvenience is compensated by pristine nature and crystal water. Here, like on many beaches, they offer to relax in the campsite.
      2. Bai Chai is an island in the bay with a fairly developed infrastructure, although the beach here is not natural. On it you can have a bite to eat in nice restaurants, take a walk in a lovely park or attend a performance in one of the musical theaters. On the beach you can enjoy water skiing or jet skiing.
Tuan Chow Island
Tuan Chau Island Hotel
      1. The island of Tuan Chau is famous for its dolphinarium. In addition to excellent relaxation on the beach (the coastline is three kilometers long) and entertainment in the bay, you can do water sports here. Climbing lovers also come here. For those who prefer to just lie in the shade or settle in a tent camp on the shore, there is also a place.
Photo: Ngok Woon
“The Pearl Island”
      1. Ngok Vung, the “pearl island”, is large enough. On the south coast of Ngok Wunga you will find the best beach. There you can eat in one of several decent eateries. The island’s specialties, like everywhere else in Halong, are fish specialties. The basis for them is a fish caught here by Vietnamese fishermen, which appears on the table by the cook immediately after capture. On the eastern side of Ngok Vunga, an old fig tree grows, it can be seen in the very middle of the beach. It was under him that in 1962, Ho Chi Minh stood and talked with the local population.

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Interesting facts about Halong Bay

A place in Vietnam where tourists from all over the world (about a million a year) prefer to relax every year has already gained a lot of legends, history and simply interesting facts. Here are some of them.

      • An Avatar, a James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, and the recent film Kong: Skull Island were filmed in Halong Bey, Vietnam.
      • From the nineteenth century and until relatively recently, coal was mined in Halong Bay, and coal dust and other waste remained on the banks due to mining. All this still harms nature.
      • The special shape of the rocks sticking out of the water is explained by their limestone origin. Heavy rains dissolve limestone. Geologists call this “tower karst.”
Photo Credit: Hang Dau Guo
Hang Dau Guo Cave
      • Hang Dau Guo Cave is a “cave of wooden pegs” as high as 25 meters. A stone stalactite waterfall froze overhead. But not by them, and not by magnificent natural paintings on the walls of the cave, this place is famous. During the Mongol-Vietnamese war, local residents planed stakes and stored them in this cave during the day, and carried them out and stuck into the seabed at night in order to harm enemy ships.
      • The drum cave in Halong has an understandable name. Due to the unusual landscape with strong winds, you can hear a sound like a drum roll here.
      • Not only houses are on the water, but there are floating restaurants, schools, playgrounds, markets and even vegetable gardens. Some of the locals even have pets who also swim for their owners.
Cosmonaut Titov Island, Vietnam
Titova Island
      • Russians will be interested to know that there is a cape called Titov. He received his name in honor of an astronaut from the USSR. Here, there is a pier, a beach and a gorgeous observation deck. Go to the site for about ten minutes – you need to conquer three hundred steps.
      • At the end of 2011, the worldwide voting for the choice of the 7th wonder of the world ended. Guess which bay won the vote?

Such is it – Halong Bay (Vietnam). Even if you have already been there, you will always want to return to this wonderful world, forget about daily worries. Take a boat, sit down with a cup of green tea on the upper deck and just contemplate. It looks like meditation. Imagine the lurking dragons who took refuge in the bay. And you can do nothing, Halong Bay will do everything for you. It will erase anxieties and sorrows, it will amaze with intricate landscapes … And then a wolfish appetite will wake up, and you will eat whatever you serve. In the evening you can wrap yourself in a blanket and fall asleep sweetly in the cabin, under the cradle of quiet waves.

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