The mystical legend of Halong Bay tells the story of a dragon descending from the mountain, and as it plummets into the waters, its lashing tail furrowed the massive land leaving only its sharp crests. Today, this myth has drowned into the abyss as hordes of tourists sail endlessly on the placid Gulf of Tonkin, northeastern coast of Vietnam.
Cruise along Halong Bay
Cruising along Halong Bay is one of the staple activities among tourists who come to Vietnam. Thousands of million-year old limestone islets rising on a still water, a wildlife sanctuary and its stories of grace are what makes it enchanting. In 1994, it earned the most prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Site recognition and once held a spot in the 7 Wonders of Nature in the World.
Its 120-kilometer coastline that stretches from Cat Ba to the East Sea is densely dotted with monolithic stone islands, jungles and caves with interesting lakes inside. Shaped by climate changes over 20 million years, these natural geological formations created a spectacle and drawing crowds of wanderers around the world.
Aside from the cruise, other activities may include (depending on your tour package) cave explorations, kayaking, snorkeling, biking and trekking. A visit to an on-shore fishing village also provides an interesting experience of the lives of the seafarers.
However, much to the ancient poets’ allusions of its beauty and serenity rest the realities of mass tourism. The water is not so clean and oftentimes with itchy post-swim feel. If you are thinking of wafting some fresh air during the cruise, you have bear the uncomfortable smell probably coming the water’s filth brought by the hundreds of junks sailing around all the time. Also, contrary to the thousands of isles around, there are only a few stunning beaches to swim on and these are found hemming some of the pretty coves outside the regular cruise route.