HA LONG BAY

Vietnam

Hạ Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular travel destination in Quảng Ninh Province, Vietnam. Administratively, the bay belongs to Hạ Long City,Cẩm Phả town, and is a part of Vân Đồn District. The bay features thousands of limestonekarsts and isles in various shapes and sizes.

Info Halong Bay

introduction

Hạ Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular travel destination in Quảng Ninh Province, Vietnam. Administratively, the bay belongs to Hạ Long City,Cẩm Phả town, and is a part of Vân Đồn District. The bay features thousands of limestonekarsts and isles in various shapes and sizes. Hạ Long Bay is a center of a larger zone which includes Bái Tử Long Bay to the northeast, and Cát Bà Island to the southwest. These larger zones share a similar geological, geographical,geomorphological, climate and cultural characters.

Hạ Long Bay has an area of around 1,553 km2, including 1,960–2,000 islets, most of which are limestone. The core of the bay has an area of 334 km2 with a high density of 775 islets.  The limestone in this bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments. The evolution of the karst in this bay has taken 20 million years under the impact of the tropical wet climate.  The geo-diversity of the environment in the area has created biodiversity, including a tropical evergreenbiosystem, oceanic and sea shore biosystem. Hạ Long Bay is home to 14 endemic floral species and 60 endemic faunal species.

Historical research surveys have shown the presence of prehistorical human beings in this area tens of thousands years ago. The successive ancient cultures are the Soi Nhụ culture around 18,000–7000 BC, the Cái Bèo culture 7000–5000 BC and the Hạ Long culture 5,000–3,500 years ago. Hạ Long Bay also marked important events in the history of Vietnam with many artifacts found in Bài Thơ Mount, Đầu Gỗ Cave, Bãi Cháy.

500 years ago, Nguyễn Trãi praised the beauty of Hạ Long Bay in his verseLộ nhập Vân Đồn, in which he called it "rock wonder in the sky". In 1962, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of North Vietnam listed Hạ Long Bay in the National Relics and Landscapes publication. In 1994, the core zone of Hạ Long Bay was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site according to criterion vii, and listed for a second time according to criterion viii.

Tourism

Ha Long Bay (also "Halong Bay") is in northern Vietnam, 170 km (105 mi) east of Hanoi. The bay is famous for its scenic ocean karst topography and is often included on lists of natural wonders of the world, including the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The Ha Long Bay archipelago is made up of 1,969 islands, both inhabited and uninhabited. These can be accessed from various ports, though in the special case of Cat Ba you can also arrive either by car, motorbike or bus (via Haiphong) or combined bus/boat (from Hanoi via Halong City).

  • Ban Sen, a thickly forested, almost uninhabited island reachable by ferries to Quan Lan from Cai Rong.
  • Cat Ba, the home of the endangered Cat Ba langur, a national park, numerous caves and the most popular destination in Ha Long Bay for tourists. It can either accessed by local bus and ferry from Hanoi's Lương Yên bus station (recommended), by tourist boat from Halong City (a five hour "hard sell" ordeal; this is what the hordes of Hanoi package tourists do), or by local bus or ferry from Haiphong (less scenic).
  • Quan Lạn, a historically significant outlying island with the beginnings of some tourism infrastructure and some beautiful beaches. Reachable by ferry from Cai Rong or also (reportedly) from Halong City.
  • Van Don, a large island that is well inhabited, little visited by tourists and connected by road to the mainland near Cửa Ông.

History

Soi Nhu culture (16,000–5000 BC)

Located in Hạ Long and Bái Tử Long are archaeological sites such as Mê Cung and Thiên Long. There are remains from mounds of mountain shellfish (Cyclophorus), spring shellfish (Melania), some fresh water mollusc and some rudimentary labour tools. The main way of life of Soi Nhụ's inhabitants included catching fish and shellfish, collecting fruits and digging for bulbs and roots. Their living environment was a coastal area unlike other Vietnamese cultures, for example, like those found in Hòa Bình and Bắc Sơn.


Cái Bèo culture (5000–3000 BC)

Located in Hạ Long and Cát Bà island, its inhabitants developed to the level of sea exploitation. Cái Bèo culture is a link between Soi Nhụ culture and Hạ Long culture.


Feudal period

History shows that Hạ Long Bay was the setting for local naval battles against Vietnam's coastal neighbors. On three occasions, in the labyrinth of channels in Bạch Đằng River near the islands, the Vietnamese army stopped the Chinese from landing. In 1288, General Trần Hưng Đạostopped Mongol ships from sailing up the nearby Bạch Đằng River by placing steel-tipped wooden stakes at high tide, sinking the Mongol Kublai Khan's fleet.

During the Vietnam War, many of the channels between the islands were heavily mined by the United States navy, some of which pose a threat to shipping to this day.

Climate

The climate of the bay is tropical, wet, sea islands, with two seasons: hot and moist summer, and dry and cold winter. The average temperature is from 15 °C- 25 °C, and annual rainfall is between 2 meters and 2.2 meters. Hạ Long Bay has the typical diurnal tide system (tide amplitude ranges from 3.5-4m). The salinity is from 31 to 34.5MT in the dry season and lower in the rainy season.

Geography

Hạ Long Bay is located in northeastern Vietnam, from E106°56' to E107°37' and from N20°43' to N21°09'. The bay stretches from Yên Hưng district, past Hạ Long city, Cẩm Phả town to Vân Đồn District, bordered on the south and southeast by the Gulf of Tonkin, on the north by China, and on the west and southwest by Cát Bà Island. The bay has a 120 km long coastline and is approximately 1,553 km² in size with about 2,000 islets. The area designated by UNESCO as the World Natural Heritage Site incorporates 434 km² with 775 islets, of which the core zone is delimited by 69 points: Đầu Gỗ island on the west, Ba Hầm lake on the south and Cống Tây island on the east. The protected area is from the Cái Dăm petrol store to Quang Hanh commune, Cẩm Phả town and the surrounding zone.

Subdivisions

The Ha Long Bay archipelago is made up of 1,969 islands, both inhabited and uninhabited. These can be accessed from various ports, though in the special case of Cat Ba you can also arrive either by car, motorbike or bus (via Haiphong) or combined bus/boat (from Hanoi via Halong City).

  • Ban Sen, a thickly forested, almost uninhabited island reachable by ferries to Quan Lan from Cai Rong.
  • Cat Ba, the home of the endangered Cat Ba langur, a national park, numerous caves and the most popular destination in Ha Long Bay for tourists. It can either accessed by local bus and ferry from Hanoi's Lương Yên bus station (recommended), by tourist boat from Halong City (a five hour "hard sell" ordeal; this is what the hordes of Hanoi package tourists do), or by local bus or ferry from Haiphong (less scenic).
  • Quan Lạn, a historically significant outlying island with the beginnings of some tourism infrastructure and some beautiful beaches. Reachable by ferry from Cai Rong or also (reportedly) from Halong City.
  • Van Don, a large island that is well inhabited, little visited by tourists and connected by road to the mainland near Cửa Ông.

Transportation - Get In

There are a number of domestic connections, particularly to the ports of Halong City and Haiphong.


From Hanoi

Independently

From Hanoi, you can take a minibus from Gia Lam bus station. Tickets are 90,000 dong, takes approximately 4 hours and the bus will pick up passengers along the way. Air conditioning is minimal, so be prepared to sweat in summer. Larger-sized tourists will not find it to be a pleasant journey, but it is a authentic Vietnamese experience.

You can also hire a private car from Noi bai airport or Hanoi city centre to Halong Bay. There are many providers.

As a mass tourist bound for Cat Ba Island

The vast majority of tourists take a 'tour'. This consists of a morning shuttle bus from their hotel or an agent in central Hanoi to a Halong Port controlled by a mafia that basically only ships people to Cat Ba Island. This gives you the least possible options but can be an easy alternative for time-short tourists. If you do choose this option, standards vary considerably: while comfortable (or even luxurious) boats, excellent food and knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides may be available, most are characterised by long and crowded bus journies, rip-off trips on boats so slow you could swim faster (to get you to buy more food and drink on board), hard-sell add-ons such as brief stops for kayaking, water cave visits and other shady practices. If you must visit Cat Ba, then you can avoid the tourist port entirely by crossing from Haiphong.


Internationally

  • From Nanning in China's Guangxi province, the Nanning International Tourist Distribution Center (有爱南路10号(中华路口); Yǒuàinánlù shí hào (zhōnghuá lùkǒu); #10 You'ai Nanlu on the corner of Zhonghua Lu) provides daily buses to Halong City (170元, 8 hours) at 07:30.
  • You can cross the border to Mong Cai and take a taxi from there to Halong Bai. Check the border crossing operation from Mong Cai pages.

Transportation - Get Around

The islands can be accessed from various ports:

  • Cai Rong, a small port serving the northeastern archipelago.
  • Halong City, spanning a portion of the northern part of the archipelago. There are several ports here; at least one port exists that is wholly distinct from the tourist boat piers.
  • Haiphong, a large historic port city at the mouth of the Red River.

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