Weather in Vietnam
Halong Bay, A Wonder of the
Halong Bay is a body of water of approximately 1,500 square kilometres
in north Vietnam with a 120 kilometre coastline, in the Gulf of
Tonkin Gulf of Tonkin near the border with China, and 170 kilometres
east of Hanoi. Ha Long Bay - means "Bay of the Descending Dragon"
in the Vietnamese language.
The bay consists of a dense cluster of 3000 limestone monolithic
islands, each topped with thick jungle vegetation, which rise spectacularly
from the ocean. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous
Hang Dau Go (Wooden stakes Cave) is the largest grotto in the Halong
area. French tourists visited in the late 19th century, and named
the cave Grotte des Merveilles. Its three large chambers contain
large numerous stalactites and stalagmites (as well as 19th century
Some of the islands support floating villages of fishermen, who
ply the shallow waters for 200 species of fish and 450 different
kinds of mollusks. Many of the islands have acquired their names
as a result of interpretation of their unusual shapes: such names
include Voi Islet (elephant), Ga Choi Islet (fighting cock), and
Mai Nha Islet (roof). 989 of the islands have been given names.
Birds and animals including bantams, antelopes, monkeys, and iguanas
also live on some of the islands.
bay was World
listed by UNESCO
at the 18th meeting of the Committee of the World Heritages of UNESCO
(in Thailand on December 17th, 1994). It is one of Vietnam's most
popular tourist destinations.
has been the setting for local naval battles against Vietnam's coastal
neighbours. On three occasions in the labyrinth of channels between
the islands the Vietnamese army stopped the Chinese from landing.
In 1288 General Tran Hung Dao stopped Mongol ships from sailing
up the nearby Bach Dang River by placing steel-tipped wooden stakes
at high tide, sinking the Mongol Dubhai Khan's fleet.
During the Vietnam War, many of the channels between the islands
were heavily mined by the navy of the United States, some of which
pose a threat to shipping to this day.
The surrounding land region of Halong City is rich with high grade
coal deposits, and is operated by the Vietnamese government. Click
here to see Halong Bay Map
Halong Bay's limestone islands are dotted
with caves of all sizes and shapes. Most of these are accessible
only by chaerter boat, but some can easily be visited on tour.
Dau Go (Grotto of Wooden Stakes): Know to French
as the Grotto des Merveilles (Cave of Marvels), is a huge cave consisting
of three chambers, which you reach via 90 steps. Among the stalactites
of the first hall, scores of gnomes appear to be holding a meeting.
The walls of the second chamber sparkle if bright light is shone
on them. The cave derives its Vietnamese name from the third of
the chamber. This chamber is said to have been used during the 13th
century to store the sharp bamboo stakes that Vietnamese folk hero
and war general, Tran Hung Dao, planted in the bed of the Bach Dang
River to impale Mongolian general Kublai Khan's invasion fleet.
Its the closest cave site to the mainland. Part of the same system,
a nearby cave Hang Thien Cung has "cauliflower" limestone
growths as well as stalactites and stalagmites.
Sung Sot (Surprising Cave): is a popular cave to
visit. It too has three vastand beautiful chambers, in the second
of which there is an astonishing pink-lit "penis rock"
(realy, its the only way to discribe it), which is regarded as a
fertility symbol. It too requires a hike up steps to reach it, and
a loop walk through the cool interior takes you back to the bay.
Hang Bo Nau, another impressive cave can be visited nearby.
Trong (Drum Grotto): is so named because when the
wind blows through its many stalactites and stalagmites, visitors
think they can hear the sound of distant drumbeats.
Tu Long Bay
more to northeastern Vietnam than Halong
Bay. The sinking limestone plateau, which gave birth
to the bay's spectacular islands, continue some 100 km to the Chinese
border. The area immediately northeast of Halong Bay is know as
Bai Tu Long
Tu Long Bay
is every bit as beautiful as its famous neighbour. Indeed, you could
say it's more beautiful, since it has scarcely seen any tourist
development. This has its positives and negatives. The bay is unpolluted
and undeveloped; however, as yet there's no tourism infrastructure.
It's pretty hard travelling around and staying here, and unless
you speak Vietnamese, it's difficult to get information.
Bai Tu Long Bay's islands
Don Island (Dao Cai Bau): Van Don is largest and
most populated and developed island in the archipelago. However,
there is no tourism development here yet. Cai Rong is the main town
on the island, which is about 30km in length and 15km across at
the widest poit. Bai Dai (Long Beach) runs along much of the southern
side of the island and is hard-packed sand with some mangroves.
Just offshore, almost touching distance away, there are stunning
rock formations similar to those in Halong Bay.
Lan Island (Dao Canh Cuoc): The main attraction
here is beautiful, 1km-long white-sand beach shaped like a crescent
moon. The water is clear blue and the waves are suitable for surfing.
The best time to play in water is from about May to October - winter
is too chilly. However, at the present there are no tourist facilities.
The nothern part of the island has some battered ruins of the old
Van Don Trading Port. There is little to show that this was once
part of the major trading route between Vietnam and China. Deep-water
ports, such as Hai Phong and Hon Gai, long ago superseded these
islands in importance. Boats or Junks cruise take about 6~7 hours
to get from Halong City to Quan Lan Island via Bai Tu Long Bay.
Hai Island (Cu Lao Mang): Ancient Chinese graves
have been found here, indicating that this region has seen considerable
maritime trade. There are many good beaches, but a sand-mining pit
(used to make glass) is destroying the place.
Sen Island (Dao Tra Ban): Also know
as Tra Ban Island, this is closest
major island to Van Don Island, making it easy to visit. However,
there are no tourist facilities and as a visit will mean an overnight
stay, be prepared to be ufficient.
To Island (Dao Co To): In the northeast,
Co To Island is the farthest inhabited island from the mainland.
Its highest peak reaches a respectable 170m. There are numerous
other hills, and a large lighthouse atop one of them. The coastline
is mostly cliffs or large rocks, but there's at least one fine sandy
beach. Fishing boats usualy anchor just off here, and you can walk
to some of them during low tide. There is a small and very basic
guesthouse on the island. Ferries bound for Co To Island depart
Van Don island on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at unspecified time-check
the schedule in Cai Rong. The return from Co To to island on Tuesday,
Thursday and Friday. There are no boats on sunday. The journey takes
about 5 hours.
About Halong Bay
Cat Ba Island is situated in Ha Long Bay,
50 km to the east of Hai Phong City, in Northern Vietnam. It is
the largest of 366 islands in the Cat Ba Archipelago, and has a
surface area of about 140 square km. In November 2004, the Cat Ba
Archipelago was approved as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Cat Ba Archipelago shares the distinctive rugged appearance and
scenic beauty of the Ha Long Bay Area, that was declared a UNESCO
World Natural Heritage Site, in 1994. The area is one of the best
examples in the world of a Karst landscape invaded by the sea. Some
1500-2000 large and small islands and cliffs rise steeply from the
shallow marine waters. Many of these islands reach towering heights
of 50 to 100m with sheer vertical cliffs on all sides.
Spectacular rock relief and bizarre rock formations provide evidence
of a long history of erosion and landscape evolution through the
sculpturing power of water.
The greatest part of the islandsí mountain range like most of the
smaller offshore islands of the Archipelago, are covered by tropical
moist limestone forest.
Cat Ba Island
also has coral terraces, sandy beaches, freshwater wetland areas,
tidal flats, mangrove forests and willow swamp.
Spectacular scenery and a high diversity of landscapes make Cat
Ba a special place and it has become a main destination for national
and international tourists.
Cat Ba Island is currently inhabited by almost
12000 people, living in 6 communes - of which Cat Ba Town with 7820
people is the largest. Photos
of people and floating villages
The area has two ethnic groups, namely the Kinh and the Chinese-born
Vietnamese that are intermingled and not separated into different
areas or communities. Based on archaeological remains, it seems
that people have inhabited the Cat Ba area for at least 6000 years.
Local livelihoods in the villages are built on subsistence agriculture
and fishing. Comparatively new sources of employment and income
at the local level are shrimp and fish-farming, and tourism.
Cat Ba National Park was established in 1986.
At 85 square km the park covers more than half of the main island.
Including some smaller islands the park currently comprises 98 square
km of total land area. An additional 54 square km of inshore waters
also belong to the national park.
Cat Ba National Park was Vietnamís first national park to include
both terrestrial and marine ecosystems.
It is recognized nationally and internationally for its importance
to biodiversity conservation. This is not only because the island
has a high number of different ecosystem and habitat types, but
also because it possesses a great variety of plant and animal species,
many of which, like the Golden-headed Langur, are now rare and endangered.
In Vietnamís Biodiversity Action Plan, Cat Ba National Park is listed
in the highest category regarding its value for biodiversity conservation.
+ About 800 vascular plants, including 25
species in the Red Data Book of Vietnam, 265 taxa for timber, 357
taxa for medicinal plants and 65 taxa for economically important
food plants have so far been recorded.
+ Large and partly rare mammals include the Golden-headed Langur,
the Southern Serow (Capricornis sumatraensis), Rhesus macaques (Macaca
mulatta), Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), black giant squirrel
(Ratufa bicolor), and civet cats (Viverricula indica, Paradoxurus
+ The cave, land snail and butterfly fauna is rich including the
most northerly cave-adapted crab species, plus four species of true
Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay Pictures