Halong Bay Overviews

Informations about Halong geographical position, legend and history, natural features, outstanding values, tourism destinations and food specialty that you should know about.

1. Geographical position

Halong Bay is in Northeastern Vietnam on the shores of the Gulf of Tonkin. It belongs to Quang Ninh Province which is 165 km far from Hanoi. Ha Long Bay has an area of ​​1,553 km including 1,969 limestone karsts and islets, of which 980 are named. 

The UNESCO recognized Ha Long bay as World Heritage Site with an area of ​​434 km 2, including 775 islets, of which 411 are named.


2. Legend - History

2.1. Legend

The most widely circulated story is to that when Vietnamese people established the country, they were invaded by foreign invaders, The Jade Emperor appointed Mother Dragon and her Child Dragons down to help the Vietnam to fight. Dragons ejected a lot of pearls and turned into thousands of rocky islands on the sea creating a solid wall to block the enemy warships.

2.2. History

Many studies have found from 18,000 years ago humans were living on Halong Bay. Some vestiges of Soi Nhu culture (Middle Stone Age) and Ha Long culture (New Stone Age) are also found here.          

In the modern period, Ha Long Bay witnessed many important milestones of Vietnamese history such as: the battle of King Ngo Quyen defeated the Southern Han army in 938, Tran Quoc Tuan general won the Mongolian Nguyen army for the third time in 1288. Today, traces of wars are still in Dau Go cave, one of the most famous attractions of Ha Long Bay.


3. Natural features

3.1. Topography

The islands in Ha Long Bay are mainly limestone and schist islands most lying in the two main areas: the southeastern part of Bai Tu Long Bay and southwestern part of Halong Bay. The islands are mainly limestone islands (over 90%) with different elevations (from 50 to 200 m). They are the result of many times of rising and lowering processes of the continent to form a karst.


3.2. Climate

Halong bay climate is wet tropical which is influenced by the monsoon’s operation. The temperature varies from 15ºC to 25ºC, the rainfall annually is between about 2000mm and 2200mm. There are four seasons in this well-known bay: warm spring, hot and moist summer, cool autumn and dry and cold winter.

4. Outstanding values

4.1. Geological value

Most of the islands in Ha Long Bay are the Fenglin karst, one of the rarest landforms in limestone. They display spectacular pillars with a variety of coastal erosional features such as arches and caves which form a majestic natural scenery. The repeated regression and transgression of the sea on the limestone karst over geological time has produced a mature landscape of clusters of conical peaks and isolated towers which were modified by sea invasion, adding an extra elemant to the process of lateral undercutting of the limstone towers and islands.

The beauty of Ha Long Bay is not only the harmony between sky and sea but also the diversity in natural artworks of hundred caves. Some popular caves are Thien Cung cave, Dau Go cave, Sung Sot cave, Bo Nong cave and Trinh Nu cave.


4.2. Biodiversity value

The underwater landscapes of Ha Long Bay are equally as fascinating as those above sea level with areas of tropical ocean, salt water flooded forests, coral reefs and mangrove forests. 

The coral reef system is made up of 163 different species of coral which create a fascinating and colourful underground world whilst also proving a home for hundreds of species of marine wildlife including fish, shellfish, squid and cuttlefish. In addition to the colourful rainbows of fish, the bays are also home to larger animals such as seals and dolphins.

5. Tourism destinations

·    Cua Van fishing village: Cua Van Fishing Village nestles in the majestic limestone mountains floating on the waters. The extremely romantic landscapes here actually deeply leave unique impression in tourists' mind. The boats covered eye-catching colors create a shimmering picture bobbing on the immense bay. Life of the denizens here has not been disturbed by modern life yet. These characteristics have brought Cua Van Fishing Village to become one of 16 villages remaining pristine and glamorous beauty over the world.

·    Bai Tu Long: Located in the East of Halong Bay and close to China-Vietnam’s border, Bai Tu Long Bay is an off-the-beaten-track destination that has recently been in high demand among international tourists. Possessing a similar landscape with Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay features clearer water and less-touristy attractions.

·     Titop Island: Titop Island is located about 14 kilometers to the east of Bai Chay tourist harbor. It has a beach that is shaped like a crescent moon and known for its tranquillity and beautiful still blue waters. The sands of the beach have been dyed white by the ocean’s surf creating a perfect picture of paradise.

·    Sung Sot Cave: Sung Sot Cave is one of the largest and most beautiful caves in Halong Bay. Located in Bo Hon Island, Sung Sot Cave is a place where many rocky islands concentrated having distinct and strange shapes, which cannot find in other ones.

·     Thien Cung: Thanks to the hands of the Creator, Thien Cung Cave is one of Halong attractions having the impressive natural beauty. Along with Sung Sot Cave, Thien Cung Cave is one of the largest and most beautiful caves in Halong Bay.

·    Luon Cave: Luon Cave is considered as one of the most ideal places in Halong Bay for kayaking. If you have a great passion for kayaking, you should not miss Luon Cave. In addition to kayaking, rowing is another great option if you want to explore Luon Cave. Sitting on a bamboo boat rowed by a local, visitors can see a variety of plants such as ferns, cycads, Benjamin’s fig trees, and many beautiful orchids. If are lucky, you can catch great photos with mischievous monkeys jigging up and down around the cliffs. A truly natural place that which is hard to find in anywhere of the word.

·    Ba Trai Dao Beach: Ba Trai Dao islet is a group of three small mountains with the height of 23 meters, seen from a far, resemble three peaches. It’s featured with Ba Trai Dao Beach which is one of the most beautiful beaches on Halong Bay. The beach has the shape of a bow embracing the islet. However, tourists just can swim at the beach in about 2 – 3 hours a day because the tide rises and engulfs the beach.

·    Trong cave and Trinh Nu cave: Ha Long Bay is known for its exotic rock formations, and the stalactites shimmering inside the caves. But Ha Long tourists also know the nature here with the legend handed down in folk. Trong cave and Trinh Nu cave are two names have become very familiar with the domestic and foreign tourists when choosing Ha Long is the destination. Not only are they attracted by the wonderful beauty that the Creator has bestowed on these two caves, but the legendary story about the two caves is also curious.


6. Food specialty

·    Grilled Choppes Squid: Also known as squid sausage or squid cake, Cha Muc is the most popular food of Quang Ninh province and also included in the list of the top 50 Vietnamese specialty dishes. It was even voted by Asian Record as one of the country’s top 10 most delicious dishes. Obviously the main ingredient is squid, but local fishermen argue that for Cha Muc to be as tasty as it is known for, the squid must exclusively come from Halong Bay.

·    Houseshoe Crab: Sam, otherwise known as horseshoe crab, lives in shallow ocean water, so Halong Bay is the ideal habitat for them. In the past, Sam was not used much as food. But over time, the locals have prepared and cooked it into a delicious dish that has become one of the specialties in Halong.

·    Peanut Worm or Sipunculus Nudus: This seafood dish is one of the most expensive in Halong Bay and is almost exclusively served in Quan Lan Island. Sung is a type of marine worm that lives under the sand on the sea floor. The people in Halong cook Sa Sung in different ways: it can be fried with garlic or pineapple, grilled with chili salt, roasted and served with chili, lettuce or eaten raw with mustard. Some cook Sa Sung with noodle soup or vermicelli. Others bake them with pepper and salt. Visit one of the upscale restaurants in the bay and you’ll likely find this unique dish on the menu.

·    Vietnamese Steamed Rice Roll: Banh cuon is made from steamed fermented rice batter stuffed with a combination of seasoned ground pork, jicama, minced shallots, and minced wood ear mushroom. It gets a sprinkle of crispy fried shallots and a glaze of scallion oil before being served on a bed of thinly sliced cucumbers, blanched bean sprouts, chopped lettuce, Vietnamese herbs, and cha lua (Vietnamese pork sausage). The rolls are often dipped in a local fish sauce called nuoc cham. For added flavor, a drop of ca cuong, which is the essence of a giant water bug, is mixed to the fish sauce, although this particular ingredient is rare and quite expensive.


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