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Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay

 Area:                 1,153 sqkm

 Population:     215,795 million

 Language:       Vietnamese

 Currency:         VND

Halong Bay (the bay where the dragon landed) is an inlet of the western coast of North Bay area North Vietnam South China Sea, including the sea islands of Halong City, Cam Pha town and part of the district Van Don island in Quang Ninh.
Ha Long bay Overview
Ha Long Bay is a beautiful natural wonder in northern Vietnam near the Chinese border. The Bay is dotted with 1,600 limestone islands and islets and covers an area of over 1,500 sqm.
 
Along with its breathtaking natural beauty, Ha Long Bay was recognized by UNESCO as worthy of natural World Heritage Sites.
At present, Ha Long Bay is the most famous attraction in Northern Vietnam, and it attracts not only the natural beauty but also Ha Long cruise tour with luxury services.
Ha Long bay History
There is perhaps a greater number of myths, legends, and folklore surrounding Ha Long Bay than any other areas in Vietnam. The current name of the bay (Descending Dragon) is itself a mystery. Some say it can be attributed to the French in the late 1890’s, others say it comes from a famous Vietnamese folk tale.
 
Myths and folklore surround many of the caves and grottos. Tales of life’s love lost; of forbidden love forever together cast in stone; wedding celebrations of truly celestial splendor; of poverty and power, and more.
 
Other legends have at least basing some facts. Some of the famous exploits of Vietnamese warriors from history, such as national heroes Ngo Quyen and Tran Hung Dao have become legends involving Ha Long Bay and the surrounding areas. Ngo Quyen is most famous for finally defeating the Chinese after 1,000 years of occupation. Tran Hung Dao is remembered for bringing those same guerilla tactics back to life 300 years later.
 
The following tale is recounted to serve as an illustration of the connections Ha Long Bay has to Vietnamese history and why the bay is so deeply entrenched in the Vietnamese national psyche.
 
After being driven out of Vietnam by Ngo Quyen in 938, the Chinese repeatedly attempted to regain their former serfdom for several hundred years more. In 1288 another Han fleet appeared off the coast to make invasion preparations. The Vietnamese fleet under the command of Generals Tran Hung Dao and Tran Khanh Du was vastly outsized, outnumbered and outgunned ... but not overawed. They made their own preparations.
 
Using Ngo Quyen’s example from 300 years earlier, Tran Hung Dao ordered that wooden stakes be cut and sharpened. It is said some of these were moved into a forward staging area in a cave on an island in Halong Bay. We know this cave today as Hang Dau Go (Wooden Stake Cave) on the island with the same name.
 
Under cover of darkness, the Vietnamese drove the stakes into the bed of the upper reaches of the Bach Dang river mouth (near present day Hai Phong) until the tips of the stakes were hidden just below the surface of the water at low tide.
 
The shallow draft Vietnamese ships continued to move about, positioning themselves for battle, fainting attacks and creating diversions. When preparations were complete, Tran Hung Dao waited for favorable wind and tide conditions. Late in the year 1288, the conditions were right.
 
The Vietnamese forces assembled in battle formation and set out to engage the Han fleet. After ensuring the Chinese fleet was fully engaged, the Vietnamese ships turned against the ebbing tide and fled back into the Bach Dang river. The Chinese followed in hot pursuit, growing ever more certain of victory.
Ha Long bay climate and best time to visit
The best time to take a Ha Long cruise tour is from December to March because of the cool weather, and the hot season starts from April until October. 
However, each season brings different feelings as well as enjoys different activities, so traveling to Ha Long Bay is year around. 
Ha Long bay Transportation
Ha Long Bay is 180 km far from Hanoi, and it takes 4 hours to drive. There is two most common way to go this famous destination. The first one is using shuttle bus which is provided by Cruise Company you book Ha Long cruise tour. The second way is using a private car to transfer.

Things to do and see in Ha Long Bay
Sung Sot Cave
Sung Sot Cave called Surprise Cave is located on the same island as Virgin Cave and has a steep path lined with shady trees and it covers some 10,000 m2. There are thousands of stalactites and stalagmites along the 500-meter paved passage. Light posts line the passage and illuminate the amazing scenery. Spotlights of varied colors are placed in such a way to be unobtrusive and add to the enchantment of the grotto.
         
Floating Villages and Fish Farms
The bay's floating villages draw a lot of attention and are one of the highlights of the trip. Locals have been living in these floating houses for many generations as fishing is still the villagers' main income.
 
Pelican
Pelican Cave (Hang Bo Nau) is also popular with tourists. Many of them love to take photos of this cave and its spectacular stalactites hanging from the ceiling.
 
Virgin Cave
The Virgin Cave (Hang Trinh Nu) is one of the most famous caves in Ha Long Bay. It is probably best known for its shrine. Legend claims that a beautiful woman committed suicide in the cave, unable to return home after being forced to marry an old Mandarin. Here her body turned into stone.
 
Another similar legend says this girl escaped from a Mandarin that forced her to marry him because her father could not pay a debt. When fishermen found her body, they buried her here and built a small shrine inside the grotto.
 
Dau Go Island
Dau Go Grotto is found on Driftwood Island, formerly known as Canh Doc Island. The name Driftwood Grotto comes from the popular story of the resistance war against the Nguyen Mong aggressors. In a decisive battle, Tran Hung Dao was given an order to prepare many ironwood stakes to be planted on the riverbed of the Bach Dang River. The remaining wooden pieces were found in the grotto and, as a result, the grotto was given its present name.
 
Dau Go Island is known for its large and colorful cave which has many stalactites and stalagmites, some of them more than 20 meters high.
 
Dau Be Island
This is a very popular swimming and diving spot because of its rich coral and deep grottoes with three inland lakes. The grottoes and caves can only be visited by rowing boat at low tide when access is possible.
 
Thien Cung (Heavenly Palace) Grotto:
This recently discovered grotto is one of the most beautiful in Halong Bay. Thien Cung is situated on the southwest side of the bay, 4 km from the wharf outside of Halong City. 

It is located in a small range of islands that resemble a throne embracing two superb grottoes at its core. The way to Thien Cung is perilous, covered on both sides by thick forest. After entering a narrow gate, the magnificent, 130 m long grotto opens up.

 
Quang Hanh Grotto.   
Located 9 km west of Cam Pha, Quang Hanh Grotto is the longest grotto in Halong Bay. It is 1,300 m long and stretches throughout the stone mountain of Quang Hanh. The French named it "Le Tunnel," or Tunnel Grotto.

Quang Hanh Grotto is accessible by either boat or car, but the entrance only appears when the tide is out. Ba Co Shrine (shrine of three girls) is in the grotto beside a smooth stone block.
Ha Long bay Travel Tips
There is a different scale of prices for overnight tours to Ha Long Bay, but you should remember that we just get what you pay for. Price differences are based on the quality of the boat, food, accommodation, transportation, crew as well as other invisible elements.

Frequent questions to ask before making a booking are the group size on a boat and on a car, cabin type (with or without A/C), included and excluded services in the package so that you know what to expect in advance.


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