Nature was not kind to the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. They were located in the Eastern Mediterranean and centuries ago they were largely destroyed by earthquakes. Nature has created places that are equally as impressive, places that fill the eyes and make them difficult to photograph to do them justice. One such place is Halong Bay, a few hours east of Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi. You can arrange Vietnam tour packages from home and they can include the transport arrangements from Hanoi for example by comfortable coach and whatever accommodation you require while you are there. All you need to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.
Vietnam’s tourist numbers are increasing year by year and this beautiful bay is inevitably included in Vietnam travel packages. There are manyattractions in Vietnam and there is no question that this bay with its 120 kilometre coastline and hundreds of islands merits inclusion. Our Halong Bay travel guide will tell you why UNESCO awarded it World Heritage status in 1994 and why the New Seven Wonders Foundation identified it as worthy of being on the list.
It has taken nature 500 million years to create the Bay; the accumulation of limestone, the encroachment of the sea and erosion have all played their part. The result has been numerous caves, amazing vegetation, lakes within the islands and reefs. Man has played his part in the history of the Bay. There is evidence of human activity tens of thousands of years ago.
Van Don Port was a busy port in the 12th Century, and Halong was the scene of Tran Dynasty’s victory over the Mongols. There are many stories and legends relating to Halong and those visiting during a Vietnam holiday will easily be able to imagine how those legends developed in such stunning surroundings.
The Bay has a number of floating fishing villages dotted throughout the Bay and its population of in excess of 1,500 people are known for their folk singing. Cura Van is one of those villages and their wedding singing, Hat Dam Cuoi, remains an important part of local culture.Weddings generally take place in the middle of a lunar month when the moon is at its clearest.
That had never been studied until after the French had left but now Vietnamese and international experts have undertaken extensive research. Tools and weapons have been found relating to agriculture and fishing while the region has become known for its ceramics which marks the people out from others during the same period.
• The scenery is simply stunning; emerald water, rock formations and caves reveal themselves on every Halong Bay tour.
• Culturally the Bay offers an insight to coastal village life that has changed little over generations.
• Cruises are both educational and relaxing. Halong Bay tours offer a chance to see the best of the Bay and sample the wonderful fresh seafood. Cat Ba Island is the largest of the islands in the Bay and it is possible to stay overnight in these idyllic surroundings. In the morning you will awake in paradise.
• A Halong Bay travel package logically follows on after seeing Hanoi and its many highlights.
Summers in Halong Bay are hot and wet, winters cold and dry though there are Halong Bay tour packages that a good Vietnam tour operator will offer all year round.
Legends of Halong Bay
There are many stories relating to the Bay:
• Đầu Gỗ(the end of wooden bars)Cave is so-called because wooden bars in the cave are the remains of wooden columns built under sea level by ordered by theTrần Hưng Đạo commander to sink invading Mongolianships in the 13th Century.
• Kim Quy (Golden Turtle) Cave gets its name from the story of a Golden Turtle swimming towards the South China Sea to return the sword given to King Lê Thái Tổ to helpagainst Ming invaders. The Gods allowed the turtle to keep the swordto fight marine monsters. The turtle became tired and died in a cave.
• Con Cóc (Frog) Isle remembers the frog that urged all the animals to protest to God about the lack of rain. God relented and ever since when frogs grind their teeth, God sends rain.
Suggested Halong Bay Itineraries
When you are planning your Vietnam holiday there are some decisions to make about what to include. Halong Bay makes an impelling case for inclusion yet there are several ways to enjoy the area. If you are active, you may actually want to go kayaking with an experienced guide. That is in contrast with travelling in a speedboat which will allow you to reach the more remote islands in the Bay.
A junk is the most popular way to see the Bay however and Halong Bay tours can be of varying duration. There are few better experiences than sitting under the stars at night in silence, looking into a clear sky with more stars than there are islands in the Bay.
It is a matter of available time. There is a great deal to see in Vietnam. Even if you only intend to cover the north you may not have more than a couple of days to devote to Halong Bay. If you have three or four days you still will not tire of cruising around, watching the fishermen, seeing village life and exploring some of the islands.
There is over 3,000 kilometres of coastline in Vietnam, beautiful beaches, clear blue seas and deserted islands. Halong Bay may be busier than some other coastal areas but as a UNESCO World Heritage site that is to be expected. However, you should not think you will be surrounded by crowds. There is plenty of opportunity to relax and the memories you will take home with you will be clear. Arguably your imagination will help you see the Bay in a panoramic way that sometimes a photograph might struggle to achieve. Come to see for yourself.
Read more: Top cruises in Halong for families with kids