Traveling to Vietnam is definitely on my list of places to visit in the future and the sponsored post by guest blogger Keith Hancock makes me want to go to Halong Bay especially sooner rather than later. I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I do. Carol Ann
Off the north east coast of Vietnam about 100 miles from Hanoi, there lay an area of such outstanding beauty that it takes ones breath away. Halong Bay is truly, one of the most spectacular and beautiful places on earth. Twenty million years in the making, Mother Nature has created one of her greatest works of art here. The name means Bay of the Descending Dragon”. Legend tells of a dragon, sent by the Gods, to assist in a great battle. The dragon spat out hundreds of jewels which instantly turned into islands in front of the invaders ships, causing them to wreck. The battle won, the dragon descended into the sea, to live in peace here, forever.
Halong Bay is a six hundred square mile UNESCO World Heritage Site and natural biosphere. Just short of two thousand limestone karsts are dotted throughout the whole area. These rocky islands are as varied as they are numerous. Some are nothing more that lumps of rock that jut imperiously out of the water towering about all before them. Others are complete islands with communities of local people having resided on them for generations. The overall effect is wonderful.
The bay has become an extremely popular tourist destination in recent years. Hundreds of tour boats cruise the waters taking holiday makers on the trip of a lifetime. The boats are modern and incorporate all the latest safety and navigational technology. But they are, in the main, designed as ancient Chinese style junks. They cut a fine figure as they weave in and out of the islands, in search of quiet areas.
There is just so much to see and do here, it makes for a perfect break. Kayaking and canoeing are extremely popular and for the more adventurous, rock climbing is really beginning to take off. Some of the islands contain wondrous caves, just waiting to be explored. Probably the most well known of these, is the Sung Sot or ‘Surprise’ Cave. The ceiling in the main chamber here is about 100 feet high. The cave contains many amazing stalagmites and stalactites.
The largest island is Cat Ba. About half of its area is given over to Cat Ba National Park. This is an amazing natural reserve that is home to many rare and endangered species of flora and fauna, including the lovely Cat Ba Langur. This delightful, golden faced primate was almost driven to extinction until conservation measures pulled it back from the brink. In the year 2000 there were only 53 creatures alive in the world. They were illegally hunted for medicines and their habitat destroyed. There are still only about 70 alive, but conservationists are confident that the decline in numbers has been halted.
The bay is also home to about 1600 people who live in four floating villages, Cua Van, Ba Hang, Cong Tau and Vong Vieng. The people here have eked out an existence from fishing and fish farming for centuries. Houses, schools, meeting halls, shops, police stations and everything you would expect to find in any land based village are here, floating in the turquoise waters. The bay is simply unique. It is a not-to-be-missed destination on any Vietnamese holiday. If you are interesting in booking a tour in Halong Bay, please click here
Keith Hancock is a singer/songwriter and writer based in Saigon, Vietnam. He has lived in Asia for more than 5 years and travels throughout the continent researching and writing. He owns and writes for Saigon Districts, an informative website about life in Vietnam’s largest city, aimed at the expat community. Keith is one of only two DIAMOND STATUS rated writers on Ezine articles in the whole of Indochina He has had work published in magazines and websites in the UK, Europe, USA, Australia and Asia. His great loves are music and travel, but he writes on a whole range of subjects.