- Beach / Seaside Resort
- Nature Reserve / Wildlife Observation / Safari
- Art & Culture
- Unesco World Heritage
I was warned that "it's extremely touristy" and "it's polluted" … and yes, it is very touristy, but this honestly does not detract from the magic of this place at all. Hạ Long Bay is simply gorgeous: a vast place containing a large number of breathtakingly beautiful karst islands. As night begins to fall, the colours of the sky present a beautiful spectacle, and the lights of the boats add a highly romantic touch to the scene!
I spent two days and one night on a junk here. In my opinion, bathing on the main tourist beach is something to avoid, though whether that's really possible is another matter. I particularly enjoyed going canoeing and taking cooking lessons to learn to make nem (a kind of Vietnamese roll made using rice paper as a wrapper). The meals were served in copious quantities and the food was of good quality. The bedrooms were certainly sparse, though you spend so little time in them that it's not really an issue.
Even just travelling across the tiniest section of Hạ Long Bay I felt like I was discovering a place even more beautiful than the last at every turn. The colours of the water and the islands kept changing! It was fascinating! As you can no doubt tell, I've been left with very good memories of Hạ Long Bay, and as far as I'm concerned it fully deserves its place as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature!
The Ha Long Bay has to be one of the most incredible places I visited. I can completely understand why this spectacular seascape is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Imagine a long series of huge, limestone pillars that rise above the sea, some containing immense caves that you can visit. Add to this idyillic setting fisherman going about their business and amazing floating villages. It's magic!
There was an early morning mist when I was there, which, rather than hiding the beauty of the landscape, created a mysterious, dreamy atmosphere. You can understand why the area has given birth to so many legends. One activity I happened upon and which I highly recommend during a holiday in Vietnam, is to go out on a kayak and explore Ha Long Bay's interior lakes. It's an unforgettable experience.