Ha Long Bay is located east of Hanoi in Northern Vietnam and is a famous world destination thanks to its unique topography which has made the place to be listed as one of the world’s most impressive natural wonders. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various shapes and colors and it is the center of a larger zone which includes Bai Tu Long Bay to Northeast and Cat Ba Islands to the Southwest. The name of Ha Long Bay translates as “bay of descending dragons” and it comprises of almost 2,000 uninhabited islets which can be accessed from different ports. Cat Ba islands can be accessed by bus, bike or car via a boat or bus trip through Ha Long City.
The bay has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam. A large part of the bay has been officially shielded from any kind of development with many of the island being home to a great number of animal species. The islands depict great variation in structure, shape and size which make of Ha Long Bay a place that offers many attractions that draws all type of tourists there. Ha Long Bay can be visited any time of the year, but thanks to the unpredictable weather you might want to be prepared for any type of situations. You might want to consider avoiding the crowd of tourists rushing there during the public holidays from March to July, or you could go on a smaller budget between June and September but make sure you watch the storm forecast before.
Ha Long Bay is better explored on a cruise because it will give you the chance to enjoy and explore the area and reach the islands easier. You can start your cruise from Ban Sen, a thickly forested uninhabited island and go to Cat Ba Island which is home to Ba Languar, an endangered species. Here you will also come across a national park and numerous caves that are easily accessible. For a good tourism infrastructure you might want to make a stop at Quan Lan Island which has a great historical significance and beautiful beaches, as well as Dau Be Island which is one of the most popular places for diving and swimming. The most famous cave is The Virgin Cave which also has a shrine. Ha Long Bay is quite impressive and it will leave you breathless with its hidden lagoons, exotic grottoes and pristine beaches.