Thursday, October 7, 2010

Halong Bay: A World of Mystery Viet Nam

Halong Bay is probably where you would find yourself. Majestic and mysterious, Vietnam’s Halong Bay is a breathtaking location with over 2000 incredible jagged islands and islets rising from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin.

Halong Bay, VietnamHalong Bay, Vietnam

This superb panorama of limestone peaks enshrouded in mist, tumbling into the gently lapping sea and enclosing within its folds striking hidden caves is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The near-perpendicular pinnacles conceal the remains of many grottos and caverns, created over millions of years ago through a complex process of erosion whereby water trickled through limestone cracks enlarging them to create spectacular caves and resulting in the distinctive towers seen today.
About a 3 hour ride south of Hanoi, Halong Bay draws a steady stream of travelers year-round, who mostly opt for several days of cruising on a typical Vietnamese junk. Beyond the breathtaking seascapes on a boat trip through the bay, an amazing range of adventure travel opportunities are on offer: Travelers to Halong come to explore the spectacular caves, among them the amazing “Surprise Cave” with its 3 enormous caverns, where illuminated stalactites grow down to touch the rising stalagmites; to kayak and scuba dive around the islands and in and around some of the more remote, less accessible caves, such as the Dark Cave; to get to know “real-life” Vietnam, cycling through farm fields and remote tiny villages, where self-reliant locals raise and prepare their own food; to experience one of Vietnam’s most fascinating cultural features – the floating villages, nestling in the sheltered bays, where houses are set atop barges and year round, inhabitants catch and cultivate fish.

Surprise Cave

Cruising on a typical junk is in itself an adventure, and experiencing the star-studded night sky and lapping sea waves with the outlines of dozens of limestone towers silhouetted in the backdrop makes for a surreal picture. Halong Bay’s breathtaking splendor, enormous scale and unique geomorphology make it one of Vietnam’s most spectacular experiences.

For an off-the-beaten-path adventure, Ninh Binh, or “Inland Halong Bay”, north of Halong is a paradise of lotus-covered ponds, meandering waterways and lush green rice paddies where contorted limestone pinnacles, caverns, spires and hills, shaped like mythical creatures provide the setting. Here, ornate temples, pagodas and Buddhist shrines rise from the center of small lakes and rustic homes perch under natural overhangs or nestle into the living rock. The steady rhythm of traditional Vietnamese village life continues here as women tend to the rice fields while men in wooden boats cast nets into the tranquil waters. A motorbike ride into the nearby mountains is a great adventure and a half-day boat trip to Tam Coc or Trang An into caves and old temples is well worth the journey.

On the Way to Tam Coc

What make this entire region unique are not the towering cliffs themselves, but rather their sheer number and unique shapes. Halong Bay, translated as “where the dragon descends into the sea” is the stuff of myths. Legend has it that the islands were created by a great dragon that lived in the mountains. As it charged towards the sea, its tail gouged out valleys and crevasses, and as it spat out jewels and jade, these turned into ,the dramatic towering pinnacles for which the bay and its surroundings are renowned.

Source: familyadventuretravelwork

Recommended Tours in Vietnam:
Halong bay Kayking
Biking Hidden Paths of Mai Chau & Ninh Binh

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