Ha Long BayCopyright: Nguyen Quang Ngoc Tonkin / Shutterstock.com
Ha Long BayDiscover the wonders of Ha Long Bay, one of the most attractive and awe-inspiring destinations in Southeast Asia. Delve into the ethereal waters that bathe the monumental limestone karsts rising dramatically over the bay. Try out your kayaking skills, go hiking and explore the area at will while staying at Vietnam’s top World Heritage Site destination. Whether you are travelling solo or with a group, this part of the world should be top of your list.
The AreaHa Long Bay is an astoundingly beautiful geographical feature and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in northeastern Vietnam. This heavenly Southeast Asian destination is a classic spot on the map for travellers who want to revel in the marvels of nature. An outstanding cluster of some 1,600 islands and islets lie waiting to be discovered where the green and mountainous land of the Quảng Ninh province meets the tranquil and turquoise South China Sea. Many of these islands have acquired interesting names due to their peculiar shapes that resemble certain animals, such as elephants or monkeys. Another peculiarity of these chunky landmasses that rise up from the ocean floor is their interior. Inside some of the towering green islands are great lakes, sometimes complete with stalactites and stalagmites. Dau Be, for instance, has an impressive six lakes within its rocky structure. As for the locals, there are four villages in the area, inhabited by people who live on floating houses. On the mainland, what is sometimes referred to as Ha Long City is in fact a conurbation of two separate cities joined together by a bridge: Bãi Cháy and Hong Gai. The main areas of interest outside of the city are Ha Long Bay itself and Cát Bà island.
Ha LongHa Long Bay is the main site in the area that attracts travellers from far and wide. Here is where you will find remarkable wonders of nature, such as hidden caves with majestic stalactites and luscious green islands. Ha Long Bay truly delivers when it comes to awe-inspiring scenery. However, if it's a meal at a nice restaurant you're looking for then you may like to head back to the mainland and try the food in Ha Long City, where some of the region's best restaurants can be found. If you feel like spending an evening at a bar by the sea consider taking a cruise ship to Cát Bà island, as nightlife in Ha Long Bay itself is somewhat limited.
Cát Bà IslandThough strictly not in Ha Long Bay, Cát Bà archipelago is only some 15 miles (25 km) away from the city of Ha Long and is well worth a visit. A conglomeration of about 366 small islands that surround the main island of Cát Bà, this archipelago is a natural park and habitat of the endangered langur monkey. Some of the best activities Cát Bà has to offer are hiking, rock climbing, snorkelling or simply relaxing on the beaches south of the main island. Two to three days are recommended if you want to get a feel for the island and truly appreciate its beauty. You can also take a tour of the surrounding Lan Ha Bay, either by joining a guided tour or by renting a cruise boat of your own. Information about guided boat tours can be found on the website below.
Although the main attraction of Ha Long is undoubtedly its spectacular islands, there are a number of interesting eateries to try out on the mainland, offering some of the best gastronomy in the region. From internationally-oriented food joints that offer all manners of Western and Vietnamese-inspired meals to a more traditional choice of local seafood and noodles, you are sure to find something that agrees with your tastebuds.
Bars & Nightlife
Ha Long Bay may not be top of the list if you are in the mood to party, but if you stay over at Cát Bà island, there are a few small bars by the seafront worth a try. Take a saunter down the harbour promenade, and you are likely to stumble upon a bar or two where settling in for an evening of beers and cocktails is the way to go.