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ABOUT HA LONG:

Situated in the North-East region of Vietnam, Halong Bay is a bay in the Gulf of Tonkin comprised of regions of Halong City, the township of Cam Pha, and a part of the island district of Van Don. Halong Bay borders Cat Ba Island in the southwest, the East Sea in the east, and the mainland, creating a 120 km coastline.

Halong Bay is made up of 1,969 islands of various sizes, 989 of which have been given names. There are two kinds of islands, limestone and schist, which are concentrated in two main zones: the southeast (belonging to Bai Tu Long Bay), and the southwest (belonging to Halong Bay). This densely concentrated zone of stone islands, world famous for its spectacular scenery of grottoes and caves, forms the central zone of Halong Bay, which has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The bay itself has an area of 43,400 ha, consists of 775 islands, and forms a triangle with the island of Dau Go (Driftwood Grotto) to the west, the lake of Ba Ham (Three Shelter Lake) to the south, and the island of Cong Tay to the east.

Viewed from above, Halong Bay resembles a geographic work of art. While exploring the bay, you feel lost in a legendary world of stone 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 has many links to the history of Vietnam. For example, there are such famous geographical sites as Van Don (site of an ancient commercial port), Poem Mountain (with engravings of many poems about emperors and other famous historical figures), and Bach Dang River (the location of two fierce naval battles fought against foreign aggressors).

It has been proven by scientists that Halong was one of the first cradles of human existence in the area at such archeological sites as Dong Mang, Xich Tho, Soi Nhu, and Thoi Gieng. It is also a region of highly-concentrated biological diversity with many ecosystems of salt water-flooded forests, coral reefs, and tropical forests featuring thousands of species of animal and plant life.

With all this in mind, the 18th meeting of the Committee of the World Heritages of UNESCO (in Thailand on December 17th, 1994), officially recognized Halong Bay as a natural heritage site of worldwide importance.

I. Grottoes



Dau Go (Driftwood) Grotto


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. The entrance is reached via 90 steps up the island. The grotto is divided into three main parts. In the first chamber, many forms can be seen in the rock, depending on the imagination of the observer. In the middle of the chamber, on the top of the pillar, there appears to be a monk draped in a long, dark cloak, with his right hand clasping a cane. Moving into the second chamber, visitors pass through a narrow "door", naturally formed through erosion. The light here is mysterious, and new images appear in the stone. At the end of the grotto is a well of clear water surrounded by four ancient walls.

In this grotto, there remains an engraved stone stele singing the praises of Halong Bay ordered by Emperor Khai Dinh when he came to visit the grotto in 1917. Dau Go is 40 minutes from Bai Chay. Admission is 15,000 VND per person, 5,000 VND for children under 15, and children under 6 are free.

Trinh Nu (Virgin) Grotto-Trong (Male) Grotto


The Virgin Grotto is situated in the island range of Bo Hon, in the system comprised of the Surprise Grotto, Dong Tien Lake, and Luon Grotto. The grotto is 15 km south of Bai Chay Beach. For some fishermen, the Virgin Grotto is home, while for young lovers it is a popular romantic rendezvous site.

According to legend, there once was a beautiful fisherman's daughter, whose family was so poor that they were in service of the rich administrator of the fishing zone, who forced the family to give him their daughter as a concubine. However, the fisherman’s daughter already had a lover and refused to marry the administrator. The administrator got angry and exiled her to a wild island where she suffered from hunger and exhaustion. One frightful night she turned to stone. On this same night, her lover, knowing of her danger, rowed his boat in search of her. However, a tempest destroyed his boat, and he floated to a nearby island. In a flash of lightening, he saw his lover in the distance, but his calls were driven away by the wind. In his final exhaustion, he also turned to stone (today’s Male Grotto).

When visiting the Virgin Grotto, you can still see the petrified girl with her long hair hanging down and eyes looking towards the mainland. Opposite the Virgin Grotto, the Male Grotto is still home to the lover whose his face is turned towards his mate. At times, his passionate calls and blows against the walls of the grotto can still be heard.

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.

According to legend, a beautiful young lady named May (cloud) caught the eye of the Dragon Prince and he fell in love with her. They were betrothed and got married in the very center of the grotto. All of the scenes of their wedding, which lasted for seven days and seven nights, have been seemingly fossilized in the grotto.

In the center, there are four large pillars supporting the "roof of heaven". From the base to the top, many strange images seem to exist in the stone, including birds, fish, flowers and even scenes of human life. On the north wall of the grotto, a group of fairies seems to be singing and dancing in honor of the wedding. Under the immeasurably high roof, stalactites form a natural stone curtain. There is also the sound of a beating drum made by the wind blowing through the stone.

In the last chamber of the grotto, a natural gushing stream of water babbles throughout the year. Here there are three small ponds of clear water. One path meanders out of the grotto.

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. Legend tells that three girls, who were once journeying on the sea, came to the grotto to take shelter from the rain. They were so engrossed with the beauty of the grotto, that they did not notice the rising tide. They drowned, only to become water goddesses.

Quang Hanh Grotto is extremely beautiful. A small boat will take you through the stone passageway by flashlight, casting magical colors on the hanging stalactites.

II. Islands

Bai Tho Mountain (Poem Mountain)


Bai Tho Mountain is 106 m high. It runs along the coast, half on land and half in the sea. Sailing in the bay, one or two hundred meters from the mountain, one can see a poem carved on a flat stone cliff.

In 1468, Emperor Le Thanh Tong, who was also a poet, made an inspection tour of the North-East region. He stopped at the foot of the mountain, and inspired by the magnificent beauty of his surroundings, he wrote a poem. Later, he had the poem engraved on the wall of the mountain. It is very interesting to climb the mountain and enjoy the panoramic view of the bay.

Tuan Chau Islet


Situated 3 km west of Dao Go Islet, Tuan Chau Islet has an area of 300 ha. On the islet, there is a very simple bamboo house built by the inhabitants of Quang Ninh for Uncle Ho to rest after visiting Halong Bay. The house is now carefully preserved by the locals.

III. Beaches

Bai Chay


Bai Chay is a resort located along the coast of Halong Bay. This is a windward ocean resort which has a year round average temperature of 20oC (68oF).

Bai Chay is a low gently sloping range of hills that runs along the sea for more than 2 km. Blended in among the pine trees are large hotels and small villas with distinguished architectural styles. Traveling down the asphalt road along the coast, visitors see long white stretches of sand and green rows of Casuarina trees, tucked under which are small family-run restaurants. After swimming at the beach, tourists can enjoy cold drinks and cool off in the breeze that sweeps in from the sea.

TRAVEL TIPS:

Best time to visit Halong Bay

Halong weather is typical for tropical coastal climate, which has two main seasons all year around. From April to September, it is often hot and humid; from October to March the weather is dry with some cold months. 
Ha Long bay weather is almost same as Hanoi and other provinces...

Ideas:
If you visit Halong in summer: very nice view but some times you can't sleep on the cruise because storm come, the government office  not allowed for your safety.
If you visit Ha Long in autumn or winter: some time you could not see the beautiful of Halong because the fog, mist...
What's a pity. If you have already booked a Ha Long Bay tour, you will see Ha Long for 01 night, then you you stay in hotel in Ha Long or Hanoi. Have staying one night in Halong Bay, you will feel how great is it.

How to get to Halong Bay

Thanks to its popularity, Halong Bay is quite accessible from just anywhere in Vietnam and neighbouring countries. Many visit Halong Bay on a larger international cruise ship which dock in Cai Lan International Port (about 10 minutes from Halong Bay). Others choose to fly to Hanoi (180km) or Hai Phong (80km) airport and take a road trip to the Bay.

By Car

The most popular way to get to Halong Bay is by road, which follows Highway 18 that passes by Tuan Chau Island, Bai Chay Road and Hon Gai Bridge. If you travel from Hanoi, most cruise trips will arrange transfer from your hotel to the pier for you (either cruise bus or private car). An average trip without traffic will take at least 4 hours for one way.

By Air

From Danang, Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City, you can fly either to Hanoi or Hai Phong Airport and get a car transfer to Halong Bay. From other Southeast Asia countries, you also need to fly into one of these two airports to get access to Halong Bay.

By Train

There used to be a rail-line that connects Hanoi and Halong Bay in 2010, however, it has been discontinued and thus traveling by train to Halong Bay is not possible.

Other Means

You can also travel to Halong Bay on helicopter which takes about 1.5 hour and it is only possible from Hanoi. This service is exclusively run by Northern Vietnam Helicopter Company and it is quite a costly option to reach Halong Bay. 

Ideas: If you go by your self, you can ask receptionist in hotel help you: where to buy bus/coach/express boat ticket; how to get to Bus Station...It's save money for you but not interesting as you join group tour

Best Halong cruise trips: 05 Best Cruises in Halong Bay

With so many choices available, it is rather hard to answer which one is "The Best Cruise" of Halong Bay. It really depends on what category of cruise you are looking at and what expectation you have for a cruise.

Day Cruise: Emeraude tops the list



Emeraude Cruise is the unique when it comes to day cruise. While most other cruise such as Image Day Cruise, Alova Day Cruise or Phoenix Day Cruise uses a different vessel (which is option smaller in scale and not as beautifully decorated), Emeraude uses the same vessel for both day cruise and overnight cruise. The food standard as well as the cruise program is the same, which makes Emeraude truly stand out from the rest.
** Note: the only disadvantage is that you will need to take a private car since there is no shuttle bus service available for Emeraude day cruise, which may make the cruise trip a bit pricey.

Best Value Cruise: Glory Cruise is unbeatable



At approximately $110 per person for 2 day 1 night trip with food and boarding included, Glory Cruise tops the list when it comes to value cruise. The amenities on board can match that of any other cruise in the deluxe range but the price is only a fraction. Glory Cruise offers both 2 day 1 night and 3 day 2 nigh trip and is planning to move its operation to Bai Tu Long Bay as well.

Best Activities: Dragon Pearl has it all



It is no wonder Dragon Pearl often ranks so high on Trip Advisor and other popular tourist forums. The cruise surpasses all others in terms of activities it offers. Not only does the cruise operate exclusively in the most beautiful part of Halong Bay but it also organizes it program in a perfect way. For example, dinner can be enjoyed in a cave or on the sundeck so that travelers can enjoy the scenic landscape while sampling the best local cuisines. The price for a 2 day 1 night trip on Dragon Pearl starts from $150/person.

Best Luxury Cruise: Paradise Peak Cruise

Paradise Peak Cruise

If you are used to world class service and would expect the same service type in Halong Bay, then definitely go for the Peak. Paradise is a team of vessel with all the 5 star quality and the Peak definitely ranks on top of all other else. The cruise is artistically designed with a cozy touch. With only 8 cabins on board, you are sure to be served to the fullest details. Each cabin or guest group will have a personal butler who will take care and help you with a perfect cruise trip.

Best new launch: Pelican Cruise




Although most cruises in Halong Bay are considered young compared with the Western one, some are relatively newer than the other. Pelican cruise was launched in 2012 and boasts the latest amenities available on board. For example, safety equipments are upgraded and full spa service are offered on board. It does not stop at the spacious new room feel: Pelican also beats other cruise launching at the same period by the friendly service it is able to deliver to guests. The good work of Pelican can easily be found in the raves available online and from the past cruise passengers.
Ideas: As my recommendation (save your money with a great experience)
- Anyone also want to save money, you could choose from 3,4 star: A Class, Alova Gold, Galaxy Cruise they also provide very good service.
- If you really don't care much about money, you can't book luxury cruise. But I could have book though travel agencies they offer better price than hotel.



TOUR RECOMMEND:

- OPT01: HALONG BAY DAY TRIP: Leave the capital in the early morning and drive 180 km east to Halong. Upon arrival in Halong board a junk for a four hour cruise through this area of outstanding natural beauty. Enjoy a set lunch with fresh seafood while passing the islands “Burn of Incense”, “Dog” and “Fighting Cock”. Visit Thien Cung & Dau Go caves with their different kinds of stalagmites, followed by sunbathing at a white beach. Return to the pier and drive back to Hanoi.

- OPT2: HA LONG OVERNIGHT ON CRUISE (02 days 01 night/ 03 days 02 nights):
You could stay 01 or 02 nights on Cruise to discover Ha Long Bay - The most beautiful World Nature Heritage. From Hanoi driving to Ha Long for 3.5 hours. Then check in and enjoy an impressive Vietnamese lunch will be served with set menu on cruise. In the afternoon, cruise around some of HaLong’s many islands, including Dinh Huong and Ga Choi. Along the way visit one of the bay’s 3 largest caves (Thien Cung, Dau Go or Sung Sot) with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. Spend an amazing night on cruise with some activity like cooking class, squid fishing from the boat…


More detail about Halong 02D 01N: http://dulichmucangchai.com.vn/tour/detail/16
More detail about Halong 03D 02N: http://dulichmucangchai.com.vn/tour/tourdetail/143

FOR VIETNAM TRAVEL SUGGESTION: CLICK HERE YOUR CUSTOMIZED TOUR

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