Ha Long Bay Travel GuideBrowse 9 travel reviews, 19 travel blogs and 1,292 travel photos from real travelers to Ha Long Bay.
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Ha Long Bay Overview
One of the most beautiful destinations in the whole of Vietnam is Ha Long Bay. Located in the Quang Ninh province just off the South China Sea, Ha Long Bay derives its name from the thousands of limestone karsts and islands which rise from the waters, jutting upwards like the gnarled fingers of some great aquatic beast clutching at the sky. The legends say that years ago the gods sent a family of dragons to help the people defend against invaders, and the dragons spat out jade jewels which sunk into the bay to create the series of islands and karst formations, blocking the invaders from sailing in. And while the legends may be nothing more than just that, there is no doubt that the views seen in Ha Long Bay are such that they have inspired millions of visitors in their time, and it has been listed as a World Heritage site since 1994.
Today, Ha Long Bay is considered one of the most popular destinations in Vietnam so far as tourists are concerned. Unfortunately, it reeks of just that: tourism. While the area is stunning in terms of natural beauty, some of that is spoilt by the never-ending throngs of people and the fleet of diesel-powered junks (cheap imitations of the traditional Asian boats) that ferry people to and fro among the islands without any care for the environment, interested only in profiting as much as possible from the tourists. It is almost impossible to experience Ha Long Bay in an idyllic setting, but if you can handle the crowds and the very obvious tourist trap nature of the place, then it is well worth the trip. The best way to experience the bay if you are an adventurous sort is to rent your own kayak and find a secluded spot to relax, but other than that you can always rent a junk for a day cruise or even an overnight trip.