Halong Bay Vietnam: A UNESCO Site You May Want to Visit | Trekking Days

Halong Bay Vietnam: A UNESCO Site You May Want to Visit

by | Asia, Hotspots

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A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Halong Bay is one of the coolest places in Vietnam, featuring over 1,600 limestone islands and islets which rise out of the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. There are plenty of ways to keep yourself busy while you’re there, including kayaking, swimming, and hiking. Today I’m going to give you an arguably comprehensive list of these activities, along with some additional information that will help you prepare for your Halong Bay trip.

A Few Facts About Halong Bay

Halong Bay is located in northeastern Vietnam, about four hours from Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital The location covers an area of over 600 sq mi(965 sq km) and is home to over 1600 islands and islets.

Halong Bay has been inhabited since prehistoric times and is home to numerous archaeological sites. The first people to settle in Halong Bay were the Cai Beo, who lived in floating houses and survived by fishing and gathering shellfish. The Cai Beo were followed by the Viet, who began farming the land and building stilt houses on the islands.

The present population of Halong Bay is approximately 15,000 people. The majority of the population is made up of fishing families who live in floating villages on the bay.

The islands have a tropical climate with an average temperature of 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celcius). The rainy season typically runs from May to October, while the dry season lasts from November to April.

Halong Bay was formed over millions of years by the movement of the earth’s crust. This process is still ongoing, as evidenced by the numerous earthquakes that have occurred in Halong Bay over the years. The most recent earthquake occurred in 2011 and measured a magnitude of six on the Richter scale.

Halong Bay is also home to a unique geologic feature known as “The Great Wall of Vietnam.” This two-mile-long wall is composed of limestone that was formed by the movement of tectonic plates. The Great Wall of Vietnam is the only place in the world where you can see this type of formation and is located inside the Son Doong cave – the world’s largest cave

Inside the Song Doong cave

As a tourist, you may want to know that the environmental damage caused by human activity is a major problem in Halong Bay. The bay is threatened by overfishing, pollution, and the construction of hotels and resorts on the islands. The Halong Bay Management Plan was created in response to the environmental threats facing the bay.

Some of the Best Things to Do in Halong Bay

Kayaking

One of the best ways to explore Halong Bay is by kayak. There are numerous companies that offer kayaking tours and many include additional activities within the same package. You can check some options here.

Swimming

As you might suspect, the waters of Halong Bay are warm and inviting, making it the perfect place for a swim. There are many beaches located around the bay, so you can find one that suits your preferences. Some of the more popular beaches include Bai Chay Beach, Tuan Chau Beach, and Cat Ba Beach.

Halong Bay beaches  can be quite cloudy

Visit a Floating Village

Halong Bay is home to numerous floating villages, where the locals live and work on the water. Visiting a floating village is a great way to get an insight into the traditional way of life in Halong Bay. Some of the more popular floating villages include Cua Van, Vung Vieng, and Ba Hang.

In case you were wondering how a floating village looks like

Trekking

If you’re looking for a workout, Halong Bay is a great place for trekking. There are numerous trails that wind through the islands, and you’ll be able to take in some stunning scenery along the way. Some of the more popular trails include the Bai Tu Long National Park trail, the Am Tich Cave trail, and the Trinh Nu Cave trail.

Rock climbing

Halong Bay is a mecca for rock climbers, as there are over 2000 limestone islands to choose from. Rock climbing is a great way to get up close and personal with the limestone islands, and you might even spot some wildlife along the way.

Cycling

There are numerous bike trails that wind through the islands, and you can even rent bikes from some of the tour companies.

Tai Chi

If you’re looking for a more relaxing activity, Halong Bay is the perfect place to practice Tai Chi. The gentle movements and relaxing surroundings are the perfect setting for Tai Chi. You can find Tai Chi classes at some of the resorts, or you can join a group that meets in one of the parks.

Fly over the bay

One of the best ways to see Halong Bay is from above, and there are a few different ways to do this. You can take a helicopter tour, or you can go parasailing. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can even take a hot air balloon ride.

Go to Cát Bà National Park

This national park is located on Cat Ba Island, and it’s a great place to hike, swim, and explore. There are numerous trails to choose from, and you can even rent bikes to make getting around easier. Cát Bà National Park is also a World Heritage Site.

Visit Halong Bay Caves

Halong Bay is home to numerous caves, and visiting one is a great way to get away from the heat. Some of the more popular caves include Sung Sot Cave, Thien Cung Cave, and Dau Go Cave.

Rent a Boat

In a place with so much water, a boat can come in handy. As long as you know what you are doing, a rented both can be one of the best ways to explore the area way.

How to get to Halong Bay

Halong Bay is located in northeastern Vietnam, and you can get there from Hanoi by bus or plane.

Halong Bay Cruises

The arguably better option is to get on the islands with one of the many cruises available. If you are looking to book a cruise that has Halong Bay on its route, feel free to check some options here.

Where to Stay in Halong Bay

There are numerous hotels and resorts located around Halong Bay, so you can find one that suits your needs. Options include:

On a cruise

This is the option that I would personally choose, at least the first time I’m there. You’ll be able to wake up to the stunning scenery, and you can even go swimming right from your cabin.

On Cat Ba Island

If you’re looking for a more rustic experience, you should consider finding accommodation on Cat Ba Island. There are numerous hotels and resorts to choose from, and you can even find some that are located right on the water.

Cat Ba Island, perhaps the coolest island in Halong Bay

In Halong City

If you’re looking for a more urban experience, Halong City is the perfect place to stay.

This is Halong City

On Tuan Chau Island

Finally, if what you want is a more resort-style experience, Tuan Chau Island is one of your best options.

Tuan Chau Island

For more lodging options and booking, go here.

Halong Bay Tours

It’s quite hard to fully explore Halong Bay without a tour because you need a boat. If renting a boat is not your thing, you should know that there are numerous Halong Bay tours available, from those that last for a few hours to those that last for a few days. For more information and booking, go here.

A Few More Things that Might Help:

1. It’s best to visit Halong Bay between October and April when the weather is cooler and drier. Keep in mind that even during these months, the temperature can get quite warm, so pack accordingly.

2. Vietnam’s official currency is Vietnam Dong (VND), which is mainly available in polymerized notes, with a few smaller changes in cotton notes.

3. You can pay by credit card on almost all cruises and you can find ATMs In Halong City and Cat Ba Island.

4. You can not enter Vietnam with more than USD 5000 per person.

There You Have It – Halong Bay in All its Glory

With its turquoise waters, rugged limestone cliffs, and hidden caves, Halong Bay is a place that you would most likely enjoy. If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam or you’re trying to find a cruise in that part of the world, Halong Bay is an option you should strongly consider.

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