This stunning spot is about three hours from Hanoi, and is one of the top tourist attractions in all of Vietnam. Take a one, two, or three-day boat trip through the sapphire waters between the two thousand limestone tower-islands and feel that magic “OHHH!” as the caws and shrieks of monkeys and birds echo from the jungle-hugged tops of the islands.
My friend David and I took the $15 boat tour leaving Cat ba Island at 8am and returning, exhausted and elated, at 5pm. In addition to meeting the coolest German couple ever, we watched the heart-stopping islands turn from purple to silver to green to blue as the sun rose, blazed, then set. We ate crispy spring rolls, squid, fried fish, and leafy green cooked veggies, kayaked into the hidden caves inside the hollow islands, got chased by monkeys on a beach, and took a boatload of photos. What a place Halong Bay is!
Let’s turn to Wikipedia for a fascinating list of Halong Bay Fun Facts, shall we?
- The name “Halong” means “Descending Dragon”, and refers to a local legend that: “long ago when the Vietnamese were fighting Chinese invaders, the gods sent a family of dragons to help defend the land. This family of dragons began spitting out jewels and jade. These jewels turned into the islands and islets dotting the bay, linking together to form a great wall against the invaders.” Lovely!
- It took over 500 million years for Halong Bay’s magical islands to form beneath the sea and rise up into the air. Should you desire to learn the details of this ridiculously complicated process, Wikipedia has about three hundred lines dedicated to it!
- In the 1997 James Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies, James and Wai Lin attempt to chase down the dastardly enemy in the Ha Long Bay area. The bay was also featured as a backdrop in the video game “Street Fighter IV”.
- Halong Bay is wicked cool!