Halong Bay, Vietnam is one of world’s natural wonders and is one of the top tourist attractions in Vietnam. The literal meaning of “Halong” is “Bay of Descending Dragons”. A local legend says that a family of dragons was sent to defend the land long ago when the Vietnamese were fighting the Chinese invaders. These dragons had descended upon what is now Halong Bay. Halong Bay, Vietnam, famous for its scenic rock formations, has been listed among the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Halong Bay, Vietnam is a spectacular location for sightseeing in Vietnam. Located in the Gulf of Tonkin, it forms an amazing seascape of limestone pillars along with more than 1,600 islands and islets. The visitors seem to discover paradise in Halong Bay with the clear water of the Bay, with some large islands and small alcoves with sandy beaches facilitating a relaxed swimming in the calm bay water.

Halong Bay is one of the most visited and recognized of the Vietnam tourist attractions. It houses a greatdiversity of ecosystems including coral reefs, freshwater swamp forests, mangrove forest, small freshwater lakes, and sandy beaches. The islands feature beautiful grottos and caves with interesting stone formations and hidden ponds. Some of the most visited Halong Bay, Vietnam tourist attractions are

 

Bai Chay (Scorched Beach)

The visitors have to drive along Bai Chay beach to reach Halong Bay, Vietnam. Unlike its name, Bai Chay is a very pleasant black sand beach significant for a historical event attached to it. Bai Chay was once a forest until 1287 when the Mongols attacking Vietnam were driven back and many Mongol ships were set on fire. High winds drifted these ships to the shore setting the forest on fire creating a stretch of beach in this area which came to be known as Bai Chay or scorched beach.

 

Caves and Grottos

The mystical caves and grottos in Halong Bay, Vietnam comes with strange shapes and structures. One of the most prominent among them is Virgin Cave(Hang Trinh Nu), also called the Mid Gate cave, which derives its name from the statue of a woman lying atop a flat surface of the cave. Legend says that beautiful woman committed suicide in the cave, unable to return home after being forcefully married to an old mandarin. Here her body tuned into stone. The tunnels in the Virgin Cave crisscross the island for around 2 kilometers with many chambers along the tunnel.

The next cave attraction is Hung Sung Sot Cave, Thien Cunglocated in the same island as Virgin Cave and has a steep path lined with shady trees. There are two chambers in the cave with a square shaped outer chamber and a ceiling of about 30meters height. The inner chamber formations look like sentries conversing with one another, animals and a formation resembling a general surveying his troops in the middle of the chamber. The light reflected from the water outside seems to bring these formations to life.

The other caves existing here are the historically significant Hang Dau Go (Flowers on Stone) and Pelican Cave (Hang Bo Nau). Besides these the visitors can go kayaking, swimming and hiking in the mountains in the islands. There are several cruises offering tours in and around Halong Bay.

Accommodation in Halong Bay is available with many hotels present in the islands of Halong Bay, Vietnam. Halong Bay can be reached from Hanoi by road which is a three and a half hour drive covering 165 kilometers.

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Jasmin Tonkin

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