Ha Long Bay is acclaimed by many to be one of the most spectacular waterways on Earth. A labyrinth of titanic stone pillars that jut from the water’s surface, Ha Long Bay is a great natural harbor that is home to floating fishing villages and a culture that dates back thousands of years. The bay is now a favorite stop for cruise ships traversing the orient and Vietnam’s number one attraction. Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This waterway at the mouth of the Bach Dang River was first discovered and settled over seven thousand years ago. The bay was an important point economically and strategically throughout much of antiquity. In 1288 the Vietnamese sank a Mongol fleet here, thereby stopping an all out invasion of Indochina. American forces mined the bay during the Vietnam War. The Bay was designated a World Heritage Site in 1994.
Ha Long Bay is one of the world’s most unique places. It is packed with over 1,000 islands, almost all of which are immense limestone rocks emerging straight up from the surface of the bay. Each is crowned with thick rainforest vegetation, and many have been partially hollowed out (some quite extensively) to form a series of stunning caves. Four floating fishing villages make their permanent home on the bay.
Ha Long Bay has been popular with travelers seeking the exotic since the days of French Colonial rule. Since Vietnamese relations with the west have normalized after the end of the war, tourists have swarmed here from all over the world. Fishing boats, sightseeing boats and cruise ships all ply its labyrinthine waters. The intrepid can take day trips out to the more popular islands and visit the areas beautiful caves and grottoes. Web: www.halongbay.info (official website).