Halong Bay - The Wonder of the World
Halong Bay is a beautiful natural wonder in northern Vietnam near the Chinese border. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site twice, the Bay is under the management of both Quang Ninh and Hai Phong provinces. The whole bay is about 1,500 square kilometers, consisting 1,969 island and islets made from karst limestone towering like skyscapers throughout the bay. Halong Bay has two form of islands: limestone and schist islands, concentrated mainly in the southeastern region (belonging to Bai Tu Long Bay) and the southwestern area (belonging to Halong Bay). These islands aged more than 280 years of creating geology.
Halong Bay in the North of Vietnam
The legend and brief history:
Long time ago, according to legend ever since the first settlement of the nation. Vietnam was attacked from the sea. To help for Vietnamese people fighting with enemy. Then Emperor Jade sent Mother Dragon and her children down to assist the Vietnamese against the invaders. When enemy ships were coming, the dragons flew down from the skies and spat pearls into the ocean. These turned into a number of jade islands. They linked with each other to make a solid wall which blocked the approaching enemy ships that collapsed in the rocks and were torn to pieces.
Before today era, the bay has a long history being through Soi Nhu Culture (18,000 – 7,000 B.C.), Cai Beo Culture (7,000 – 5,000 B.C.), Halong Culture (3,000 – 1,500 B.C.), Feudal period. Feudal period played an important part in one of the most glorious pages in Vietnam history, in which King Ngo Quyen stopped Liu Hongcao ships from colonizing battle nearby Bach Dang River by placing steel-tipped wooden stakes hidden in Dau Go Cave (meaning “Wooden stakes” cave). Bach Dang victory marked the end of 1,000 years of Chinese domination, opening up an independence age for Vietnam.
Sung Sot Cave - The Cave of Surprises
Main history attractions:
- Sung Sot Cave: Legend tells that after defeating the An aggressors, Thanh Giong (the Saint Giong) helped villagers chase devils and demons away from the village and flew to heaven. He left his stone horse and swore to keep protecting his people. Sung Sot Cave was where villagers keep all the vestige of arms and Saint Giong’s horse footprint, which has become small lakes with huge stones surrounded. The name “Sung Sot” (means “Amazed feeling”) would definitely describe how travelers feel towards Top 10 most beautiful cave on Earth. The cave was first found in 1901 by a French travelers and called Grotte Des Surprises (The Cave of Surprises) in a travel book established in 1938. Being one of the widest and most special caves of Halong Bay, Sung Sot Cave is located in the center of the Bay, inside Bo Hon island. Despite having a small gate, the cave amazed visitors by its giant inner space, which probably explains the surprising name.
Ti Top Island: In the early years, the island was less known and called the “Graveyard” island. The name was in memorial of the death of a French cargo ship crew, who faced disaster nearby and buried on the island. It was kept until 1962, when Ho Chi Minh visited the island with a Soviet astronaut named Gherman Ti Top. He asked the locals to name this island after Gherman’s, from then, Ti Top island has become the symbol of friendship between Vietnam and Soviet Union. Unlike 2,000 other tourism spots in Halong, Ti Top does not only have beautiful nature view but also owns a fabulous sandy beach called Ti Top beach or Vang Trang beach (means the Moon beach, because the sandy beach looks like the moon hanging onto the island mountain). If you have only seen one picture of Halong bay, it is more likely taken from the crest of Ti Top island.
Cuu Van Fishing Village: The village is an authentic and attractive destination for tourists who both want to enjoy the dramatic landscape and learn about the daily life of the locals. Notably, the village has not been affected by the growth of tourism and remain in its natural state. Therefore, do not miss the valuable experience to learn the local fisherman's traditions and culture, such as sailing the boat and catching seafood in Halong.
Cuu Van Fishing Village
The area is less populated compared to other cities in Vietnam due to the fact that the government has moved all floating villages’ residents to the mainland for better living standards, leaving the whole bay for tourism. Halong residents are friendly and hospitable since their main income is driven from tourism, beside fishing. The locals can take tourists on squid fishing trips and many other local activities when coming to their floating villages.
Local fisherman in Cuu Van village
The best time to visit Halong Bay is in April and May and from September to November. In these months of the year, the weather is more pleasant without much heat or rain. December and January are Halong's peak seasons while June to August is considered to be the offseason because of irregular typhoon and storms. Keep yourself informed about upcoming storms to avoid bad weather.
The popular way to travel to Ha Long Bay is from Hanoi. If you book a cruise trip there is always a transport from Hanoi to the bay and return.
- By tourism shuttle bus: The bus leave in Hanoi around 7.30 am and go around Hanoi Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake for collecting traveller to Halong Bay. This is the cheap and convenient for cruise you choose to book you will travel on that shuttle bus.
- By private car: This is the best choice if you don’t want to spend time and wait driver go around at hotel to collect traveller. You book a private and choose the set time. And driver can collect you at any hotel. Along the way you can ask driver nonstop while shuttle bus always has 15 minutes rest after 2 hours driver.
- By train: It is not popular transportation to Ha Long Bay because the train goes slow as well as it just arrive in Halong city centre. Then you need to move from train station to the harbor. If you don’t know clearly about your cruise trip’s harbor in Halong Bay, it sometimes make you go to wrong harbor. Because there are many harbors in Halong like Hon Gai, Cai Lan, Tuan Chau, etc Travel from Hai Phong It also requires you to take a taxi or book a private car from Cat Bi airport to Halong Bay. If you travel 2 ways, it is better you book a private car. Otherwise, only 1 way Cat Bi airport to Halong Bay, it is better you take a taxi to save time.
- By public bus: It starts at Luong Yen bus station, My Dinh or Gia Lam bus station. The bus will stop at Bai Chay bus station in Halong City. It takes 4 hours on bus. Cost is around 100,000 – 130,000 VND/ticket. The main route: Ha Noi – Hai Duong – Hai Phong – Bay Chay (Ha Long). The disadvantage of this transportation is the driver cannot speak English. And if there is any problem for transport on the way, it is easy for you to get lost.
- By Seaplane: This is adventure transportation to reach Halong and discover Halong from the high place. It is the fastest way and an amazing 45 minutes from Hanoi to Halong Bay to discover its beauties. The seaplane leaves from airport in Hanoi city and it can hold 7 people included pilot and passengers. You can book with seaplane trip to share with some people to get better price and it requires minimum to book 2 people. Otherwise you can choose 15 minutes scenic only in Tuan Chau Marine to visit Halong Bay. The fee for seaplane now is not much it is around 100 USD for 15 minutes scenic and 275 USD each person for 45 minutes including flight from Hanoi to Halong or vice versa.