Hạ Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular travel destination in Quảng Ninh Province, Vietnam. The name Hạ Long means “descending dragon”. Administratively, the bay belongs to Hạ Long city, Cẩm Phả city, and is a part of Vân Đồn District. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various shapes and sizes.
There are more than 1,600 islets in the bay, their limestone worn down by 500 million years of tropical downpours, and topped by thick jungle growth. Some of the islands are hollow, and visitors can take guided tours inside to explore majestic caves. Some of the larger islands even have their own lakes.
At the center of the bay there are 775 formations in an area of just 127mi² (330km²) – and this is where travelers on-board a traditional Vietnamese junk boat can explore the bay’s islands, caves, and floating villages.
On the downside, there is now a well-worn path that leads from the hostels of Hanoi straight to Halong Bay. What were once quintessential, sleepy fishing villages are now transport hubs for hundreds of vessels that ply the waters. The Irish backpacker you met at Siem Reap is likely in the queue to buy a ticket, and the last free berth has just been sold to a honeymoon couple from Pittsburgh.
Regulation and safety haven’t always kept pace with the popularity of the destination and the rapid expansion of services to meet demand.
People who visit Vietnam, definitely go see the Halong Bay in Vietnam. Aside from its size, the most impressive thing about the bay is the 1,600 islands and islets that rise up out of the water.