Exit Search

Snapshot: Halong Bay

June 29, 2021

Sail through emerald waters, kayak through ancient grottos and catch some rays on white, white sands

 

Thousands of limestone mountains, topped with lush tropical jungle, jaggedly project out of clear, emerald waters. Halong Bay looks like the computer-generated backdrop to a James Cameron movie. It’s breathtakingly beautiful with junk boats carving lines in the tranquil bay as sunset colours bounce off the water.

 

The UNESCO World Heritage Site with a boat with the view of the Karsts Isles.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site with a boat with the view of the Karsts Isles.

 

For centuries Halong bay has been a muse for poets and painters. People have flocked here to see this natural wonder and, while there might be a few more tourists and a lot more boats today, it still has retained its sense of wonder. It’s easy to while away a few days in Halong Bay watching sunsets and absorbing the 20-million-year-old karsts.

The Bay, in the Gulf of Tonkin, is very near the Chinese border and the thousands of natural caves and grottos that today witness tourist visits, used to be a base for pirates and smugglers to hide and transport their booty. Many of these caves are open to the public, well illuminated and provide guided tours that can help point our various rock formations that look invariably like roaring lions, entwined lovers or Buddha sitting in uncomfortably looking poses. The rocks may have some wonderful mythological tales but it’s the incredible natural beauty that inspires us.

 

A female water hawker floating in the fishing village in Halong Bay.
A female water hawker floating in the fishing village in Halong Bay.

 

Sung Sot Cave is one of the biggest cave networks and the views from Pelican cave are stunning. Take a boat or, if you’re feeling brave, kayak through the Dark and Bright Cave, where you’ll dodge stalactites and hear bats preparing for the evening hunt above you. All but 40 of the islands are uninhabited and the fishing villages and farmers that do live on these isolated outcrops have hardly changed their living habits for centuries.

 

The Sung Sot Cave with tourists following the trail in Vietnam.
The Sung Sot Cave with tourists following the trail in Vietnam.

 

There are plenty of opportunities to do some hill walking and cliff climbing, to get a better view of the sea-scape. The protected nearby national park of Cat Ba is home to most of the world’s remaining golden-headed langur population. Some of northern Vietnam’s best beaches are hidden away in the regions around here. Lan Ha Bay is further away than the busy Halong Bay and is covered in white sandy beaches. As well as a great spot for diving, often seals and dolphins can be spotted here.

 

Golden head limestone Langur in Cat Ba Island.
Golden head limestone Langur in Cat Ba Island.

 

A boat cruise is certainly the best way to ensure you get to see all that the area has to offer and most will arrange food either on the boat or in one of the fishing villages in the area. However, if you’re feeling very James Bond (Tomorrow Never Dies was filmed here after all) then you can also see the Bay from a helicopter or seaplane.

 

A floating fishing village in Halong Bay by the Karst Tower Isles.
A floating fishing village in Halong Bay by the Karst Tower Isles.

RELATED TOURS
Travel from:Jan 2024
Travel until:Dec 2024
Vietnam
$99pp deposit
Included
Local Guides

Included

Was $4,299
Now
$3,799 pp twin share
USD
Travel from:Jan 2024
Travel until:Dec 2024
Vietnam
$99pp deposit
Included
Local Guides
Moderate Pace
Was $4,299
From
$3,799 USD
pp twin share
Flights Included
Travel from:Jan 2024
Travel until:Dec 2024
Vietnam
$99pp deposit
Included
Small Group

Included

From
$3,099 pp twin share
USD
Travel from:Jan 2024
Travel until:Dec 2024
Vietnam
$99pp deposit
Included
Small Group
Moderate Pace
From
$3,099 USD
pp twin share
Travel from:Mar 2024
Travel until:Mar 2025
Vietnam
$99pp deposit
Fully Escorted
Moderate Pace
From
$4,299 pp twin share
USD
Travel from:Mar 2024
Travel until:Mar 2025
Vietnam
$99pp deposit
Fully Escorted
Moderate Pace
River
From
$4,299 USD
pp twin share
2024 Dates Added
Travel from:Dec 2023
Travel until:Dec 2025
Vietnam
Local Guides
5 Star
From
$1,299 pp twin share
USD
Travel from:Dec 2023
Travel until:Dec 2025
Vietnam
Local Guides
5 Star
Small Group
From
$1,299 USD
pp twin share
Travel from:Dec 2023
Travel until:Nov 2024
Vietnam
Small Group
5 Star
From
$2,099 pp twin share
USD
Travel from:Dec 2023
Travel until:Nov 2024
Vietnam
Small Group
5 Star
Local Guides
From
$2,099 USD
pp twin share
World on Sale
Travel from:Dec 2023
Travel until:Dec 2024
Vietnam
Fully Escorted
Moderate Pace
From
$1,299 pp twin share
USD
Travel from:Dec 2023
Travel until:Dec 2024
Vietnam
Fully Escorted
Moderate Pace
Small Group
From
$1,299 USD
pp twin share
World on Sale
Travel from:Dec 2023
Travel until:Dec 2024
Vietnam
Fully Escorted
Moderate Pace
From
$799 pp twin share
USD
Travel from:Dec 2023
Travel until:Dec 2024
Vietnam
Fully Escorted
Moderate Pace
Small Group
From
$799 USD
pp twin share
Processing...