June 11th, 2011
In northern Vietnam, east of Hanoi, is a gorgeous gem of nature which is famous for its stunning rock formations. Ha Long Bay translates to mean Descending Dragon Bay. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of 28 finalists in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition. It’s certainly not hard to see why with these breathtaking images. Ha Long (or Halong) Bay has a magnificent collection of 1,969 limestone monoliths that are dotted with jungle vegetation. The core of the bay has 775 islets. There may be 3,000 or more incredible islands of all various shapes and sizes rising up like jewels from an emerald sea. It would be easy to imagine pirates hiding behind the massive and sometimes hollow monoliths that hide gigantic caves. Birds can almost always be heard singing and monkeys can be seen playing on these monolithic islands that feature secluded beaches, grottoes, caves, and lakes. Welcome to Ha Long Bay, one of nature’s paradise locations! [40 Photos]
Titov Island overlooking Vietnam Ha Long Bay. Will this be crowned as one of the seven finalists in the “New 7 Wonders of Nature” competition? Photo #1 by Alex Stoen
Chinese Junk in Flight – Ha Long Bay – Vietnam.
Sunset in Halong Bay.
Two of the larger islands have permanent residents and support tourism services since this is a popular paradise-like tourist destination.
Peering out of cave at dream destination Ha Long Bay.
Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The floating fishing villages work the shallow waters that support 200 species of fish and 450 different mollusks.
Halong bay, Vietnam, is famous for its thousands of islands and many caves. But these monolithic islands also feature grottoes, lakes and secluded beaches.
Sunset over the bay. Many of these islands support wildlife like birds, lizards, monkeys, bantams, and antelopes.
Flying seaboats at Halong Bay.
Anchored ship. Although this seems idyllic, in February, 12 people died when their tourist boat sunk. Other tourists said they were not surprised and felt lucky to be alive since many of the boats are old.
This is a floating fishing village. Ha Long Bay has a community of about 1,600 people who live in four fishing villages: Cửa Vạn, Ba Hang, Cống Tàu and Vông Viêng in Hùng Thắng commune, Hạ Long city. The people live on floating houses and make their living by fishing and by marine aquaculture.
In the 1997, the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, had scenes shot in the Ha Long Bay area.
A day in the life of a Halong Bay fisherman.
A ray of sunlight in Thien Cung Cave. Besides the wonderful waterscapes, Halong Bay is also famous for its caves. There are reports the tourists trade is starting to damage some of the caves as people break off stalagmites and stalactites. Other souvenir-hunting tourists have harmed the area by stripping rare corals and seashells from the sea floor.
Some visitors to the area will choose to sleep aboard “junk” ships.
Another gorgeous sunset at Ha Long Bay.
A hidden paradise. I’m not sure about you, but I think I could live here. Do you suppose any of these islands have a cave with a cable Internet connection? 😉
According to Vietnam tourism authorities, Ha Long Bay is made up of the following famous islands: “There is Man’s Head Island, which resembles a man standing and looking towards the mainland. Dragon Island looks like a dragon hovering above the turquoise water. La Vong Island resembles an old man fishing. There are also the islands of the Sail, the Pair of Roosters, and the Incense Burner, which all astonishingly resemble their namesakes. The forms of the islands change depending on the angle of the light and from where the islands are viewed. At the core of the islands, there are wonderful caves and grottoes, such as Thien Cung (Heavenly Residence Grotto), Dau Go (Driftwood Grotto), Sung Sot (Surprise Grotto), and Tam Cung (Three Palace Grotto).”
Halong Bay At Dusk.
Welcome to paradise.
Of the 1,969 various-sized islands that make up Halong Bay, 989 of them have been given names.
When viewed from above, this looks a bit like a geographical work of art.
Caves in Halong Bay.
Before the 19th century, there were no documents or any records of Halong Bay. In the late 19th century, it appeared on a French map . . . along with a story behind it which sheds light on why the name translates into “where the dragon descends into the bay.” A French newspaper reported, “In 1898 a sub-lieutenant named Lagredin, captaining the Avalanse reported seeing a huge sea snake on Ha Long Bay. This was also witnessed by many of the crews. Thus emerged the European image of the Asian dragon. Whether this appearance of a strange animal looking like a dragon resulted the name of Ha Long Bay is not known.”
Way to the Titop Island in Ha Long Bay.
From February to April the weather in this majestic and mysterious region can be cool and drizzly which makes it foggy, but the temperature rarely falls below 10°C (50°F).
Sunset in Ha Long Bay.
There may be as many as 3,000 islands rising up from the breathtaking emerald waters.
Another bit of trivia about beautiful Halong Bay: Through the hundreds of years of naval war, at least three different times this bay helped to stop the Chinese Navy from invading northern Vietnam. The United States Navy mined this bay during the Vietnam war. Some experts say there are many mines still unexploded in the bay.
The photographer wrote, “The cave is a unique and interesting fine-art museum which is made by nature. Thien Cung Cave is considered one of the most beautiful caves in Hạ Long Bay.”
Quiet after a stormy day.
Ready to sail the bay. It’s thought the monoliths, limestone karsts and islets have been evolving for 20 million years via the winds and waves in this wet tropical climate.
Fishing in paradise of Halong Bay.
Tourists can travel like this, or take the road less traveled by kayaking through the “forest of karsts” jutting up from the South China Sea. The smaller kayaks can access places where larger boats can’t go, like secret lagoons and into hidden caves.
Sunrise over Halong Bay.
The Vietnamese say, “You have never really been to Vietnam if you have not visited Halong Bay.” 90% of tourists who come to Vietnam must agree, since that is the percentage of visitors who come here.
Halong Bay, A World Wonder – panorama.