EnglishPháp
Vietnam Travel Inquiry
open

Halong Bay

Updated: 18:37 - 24/04/2018
Views: 308
Font size
Halong Bay is one of Mother Earth’s most amazing natural wonders and one of Vietnam’s most prized treasures. A comfortable 3 hours drive from Hanoi, Halong Bay is in Northeastern Vietnam on the shores of the Gulf of Tonkin. The bay is dominated by more than 1,600 limestone karsts and islets which rise out of the waters of the bay to heights of up to 100 meters (330 feet) and the numerous caves and grottos spread throughout the bay. Abundant scenic beauty, archeological and geological significance, cultural and historical connections, fresh seafood and proximity to international gateways make Halong Bay one of Vietnam’s most popular places to visit.
 
Such is the significance of Halong Bay that in 1994, UNESCO recognized the heart of Halong Bay as being a site of natural World Heritage and stated that "Apart from Halong Bay there are no equivalent sites on the World Heritage List..."

ATTRACTIONS AND ACTIVITIES
 
Undoubtedly Halong Bay’s greatest attraction is its natural scenery. The towering limestone outcrops jutting skywards from the emerald-blue waters. The sheer numbers and size of the islands, islets and karsts within the bay serve to humble even the most jaded traveler.
 
Swimming, kayaking, hiking and of course photography are favorite pastimes for visitors to Halong Bay - one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Vietnam. Abundant fresh local seafood is another delight.
 
Floating fishing villages are the most popular human attraction. Entire village populations live, work and die on these ’floating islands’ in Halong Bay. The villagers are mainly fisherfolk and ply the waters around their villages selling their fresh produce to the passing tourist trade.

CULTURE/HISTORY
 
 
Human History
 
Archeological evidence suggests humans may have inhabited the area in and around Halong Bay for as long as 18,000 years. Some of these are distinctly different enough to have been given their own names, such as the Soi Nhu from the Mesolithic age and the Halong culture from the Neolithic age. Van Don in the Southeast of the bay was once one of the most important trading ports in Vietnamese ancient history.
 
Folklore
 
There is perhaps a greater number of myths, legends and folklore surrounding Halong Bay than any other area 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 some bases in fact. 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 Halong Bay has to Vietnamese history and why the bay is so deeply entrenched in the Vietnamese national psyche.
 
Tran Hung Dao and his Battle of the Bach Dang River
 
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, feinting 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.
 
As the tide reached its full ebb, the deeper draught Chinese ships became impaled on the stakes. The smaller, nimbler Vietnamese fleet then picked off each impaled ship one-by-one, like lions might harass and harangue a much larger wounded elephant ... until the final demise.

GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION/DISTRIBUTION
 
 
Halong Bay is located on the Western side of the Gulf of Tonkin in Northeastern Vietnam. The bay is approximately 35 km (21 miles) Northeast of the port city of Hai Phong and approximately 170 km (105 miles) by road from the capital Hanoi. The town of Halong is situated on the coast to the North of the bay. The journey from Hanoi to Halong takes approximately 3.5 hours.
 
Halong Bay is formed by Cat Ba island to the South, Ngoc Hung and Van Canh islands to the East and the Vietnamese coastline to the North and West. The bay covers a total area of 1,553 square kilometers (600 square miles). Occupying the heart of the bay between Halong town and Cat Ba island, the central World Heritage area stretches for 434 square kilometers (167 square miles)

 

Comment Facebook

FREE QUOTE
ASK FOR A QUOTE
Your travel advisor will answer you within 48 hours
PHONE BOOK
Your travel advisor will remind you of the date and time of your choice