In 2009, Vietnam’s Halong Bay was included on a list of the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’. The beauty to be found in the 600 square miles of water and nearly 3,000 islands justifies the accolade. It truly is a wondrous place, with its roots in magic and mythology. Halong Bay means, literally, ‘descending dragon bay’, relating to the legend that tells of divine help against vicious invaders. Story tells that, thousands of years ago, the Gods sent a family of dragons to protect the locals. The islands themselves are the jewels and jade that came forth from their mouths as ammunition!
The rhetoric adds to the majesty of the bay itself. Do yourself a favor and book some cheap international flights and explore the 75 mile coastline by water. You can take out small kayaks and paddle yourself through the caves of the ‘karsts’ to get a close-up view. These limestone, tree-covered islands have taken tens of millions of years to form and rise steeply and eclectically from the water. Alternatively, you can one of the all-inclusive cruises on one of the larger boats; taking excursions, eating great food and letting the captain and crew take the strain. These trips can be booked for just one day, or up to over a week in some cases.
This rich environment, in the Quang Ninh province of north eastern Vietnam, has been populated by humans since around 16,000 BC, and is now home to a spectacular array of floral and fauna. It boasts 14 endemic species of plants and flowers and a further 60 animals native to the area. The locals are friendly and many of them live on the water itself. The bay is dotted with a number of floating ‘fishing villages’. Their inhabitants work in the bay to harvest the waters, which are inhabited by an estimated 200 species of fish.
Finding cheap airfares to Vietnam is relatively easy these days. Once you arrive at Hanoi airport, the bay is around two hours away by taxi. The cost will be around $80 to $120 one-way for the 100 mile journey, so is expensive. You can find cheaper local options. Hiring a private car is less than a taxi ride, but can still cost up to $80. The local bus service is the cheapest option, costing around $5. However, it can take up to six hours to complete. If expense is not an issue, there is also a helicopter service from Hanoi
The climate is tropical, so expect the summer months to be spent avoiding downpours and changing excursion plans. Perhaps the best time to go is from February to April when the weather is cooler and drier. Locals wrap up from head-to-toe, but the temperatures are still warm during the day and you’ll only need a coat for the evenings. Fog is common this time of the year and can often spoil the view. However, the sight of Halong Bay covered in fog is still a sight to behold.
Plan for Vietnam tour; it can be a life-changing experience
Vietnam is one of the world’s most appealing countries. Enigmatic jungles and busy cities complement a fascinating history and intriguing culture, whilst the people are welcoming. Touring the country as part of a volunteer project can change your perspectives and give a new wisdom to your life.
More Than Seeing the Sights
Most Vietnam tours begin with the capital city, Ho Chi Minh and last for around four weeks, though longer experiences can also be found. Accommodation is usually provided in a shared room when you are engaged on work abroad, with the hours of work usually from around 8am until 5pm. This allows you plenty of time to see what Vietnam has to offer, as well as to recover from work. Spending some time socialising with the local people is also important, as this will deepen your understanding of local matters in a way that simply researching can never do.
The tour will take in the sights and sounds of the Mekong Delta, as well as the unforgettable town of Hoi An. The amazing coastal sites of Halong Bay, a truly unforgettable place, are also well worth a visit and are included on the itineraries of many tours of this type. At the end of the tour, most providers also offer the chance to explore more mountainous areas, such as Mai Chau and you should be able to enjoy extensive trekking and hiking in this area of the country.
As well as seeing what the country can offer, a tour like this is a real opportunity to volunteer abroad and help out with some deprived communities in rural areas. This will usually consist of assisting with manual work, usually to improve some aspect of the agricultural infrastructure in the area in which you stay. This will often involve helping to clear ground for new buildings, helping with the construction of structures like wells and irrigation features, or simply helping the local farmers in the fields with their tasks.
It must be said that this hard graft is an integral part of work abroad of this nature and is to be embraced and enjoyed. It should also be remembered that whilst you may be there for a holiday and your own gratification, this life is what the people you are visiting have in total. If you cannot cope with manual work, if you are out of condition or have little aptitude for it, this kind of tour really is not for you.
However, if you embrace the challenges and respond to communities you encounter with a positive attitude and warmth, the experience of a volunteering tour in Vietnam can genuinely alter your life for the better. The insights into yourself and the world you encounter will resonate for years throughout your life back home.
Andrew Kelly was born in North Dakota in the late 1940s and had what he thought was the misfortune to serve in Vietnam during the 1960s. However, returning to the country years later, now as a teacher who was settled in the UK, he realised what an outstandingly fascinating country it was and is. Having worked extensively in Vietnam, he now writes about what it is like tovolunteer abroad, as well as a whole host of other travel matters, for websites and blogs across the internet.
Discover the beauty of breathtaking Ha Long Bay in your own style
Have you already started planning for next winter vacation? If you are planning to spend the vacation outside the country, you can think about Vietnam, especially Ha Long Bay. Since your trip to Ha Long Bay can be an expensive one, you must buy trip cancellation insurance at the time of booking your trip. Like online auto insurance , trip cancellation insurance can also be brought online.
About Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay has been declared as world heritage by UNESCO. The bay is a body of water of about 1,500 sq. kilometers in the northern part of Vietnam with a long coastline of 120 kilometers. The bay is known for its high terrestrial biodiversity. It features over 1000 beautiful limestone karsts and islands of different shapes and sizes. The bay is one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
How to reach Ha Long Bay
Tourists generally visit the place on pre-purchased tours from Hanoi. The best way to reach Ha Long is to rent a car from Hanoi airport. You can also take a tourist open bus. Bus service from Nanning is also available.
Sites to visit during your tour to Ha Long Bay
Ha Long has become one of the most popular and sought after holiday destination of Vietnam. People around the world come to this bay to explore its stunning natural scenic beauty. Get a ticket from the department of Ha Long Bay management. They give 2 options;
Thien Cung Grotto, Dau Go Cave, and other sites
Sung Sot Cave and other sites
You must visit Su Tu Bien Islet on the route to Thien Cung Grotto and Dau Go Cave.
Things that you must not miss at Ha Long Bay
You must not miss visiting caves, kayaking, island stopovers, bike riding amongst paddy fields, swimming, climbing Titov Mountain. You should taste the flavor of local dishes, seafood including mussels, shrimp and su fish, and rice dishes.
Thing to remember
Here are the 3 things which you should keep in mind while traveling to Ha Long Bay.
Hire English speaking guide for one-day tour to Ha Long
Don’t forget to keep your own bottle of water, if you are on the boat
Don’t forget to buy your trip cancellation insurance, because if you cancel your trip, you can get your money back. Online car insurance companies usually sell trip cancellation insurance. You can buy yours from any of them.
Ha Long Bay – the name itself is a travel-invitation. If you are a passionate traveler, you will love to explore the gorgeous bay. It is a must-see for every Vietnam tourist.
Halong Bay Cruises
Located in the northeastern region of Vietnam, Ha Long Bay is a bay in the Gulf of Tonkin and is comprised of 1,969 islands. Comprised of limestone and schist, this dense zone of stone islands form a magnificent view of immense peaks, grottoes and caves throughout the bay. It is also a region filled with coral reefs and water-flooded forests housing thousands of species of plant and animal life.
Because of its spectacular scenery, Ha Long Bay is renowned for cruise tours which gently patrol the waters and open up a panorama of the region’s natural beauty. The Vietnamese cruise junks are artfully designed in an Indochina style and feature decorative ornamentation throughout its restaurants, air-conditioned bedrooms and communal spaces. Suites and balconies line the decks for uninterrupted views of the bay. Throughout the cruise, itinerary is planned for kayaking the crystal waters of the bay, snorkeling, fishing, exploring famous caves and visiting local fishing villages. On such travel excursions, it is always important to have travel insurance for your protection.
With hundreds of islands protruding the waters, the mountainous island of Cat Ba is the biggest island in Ha Long Bay. This island is a tropical paradise landscaped with white sands, caves and limestone peaks, which rise high from the verdant greenery. As you cruise to the island of Cat Ba, you’ll pass the towering karst islands that feature the Dau Nguoi Islet and Tam Cung Cave. Here you can visit the famed Thien Cung Cave. Upon entering the narrow gate, the grotto’s long girth opens up magnificent view of stalactite. Along the east wall, there are artistic pictures with characters of heroic tales. During the cruise, you’ll get to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Ha Long Bay. Stop in for a swim at the Soi Sim Beach and visit the fish farms of Cho Da, Co Don, Dinh Huong and Ga Choi.
Caves emerge everywhere along the Ha Long Bay and decorate the islands in a masterpiece of natural art. The cave at Ba Ham Lake is located on the Dau Be Island. As you approach the island, orchids, banyans and cycads line the coast. The island is also home to yellow-haired monkeys and flying squirrels. Enclosed by vertical cliffs, three pits are gathered through a meandering tunnel. Inside the cave, descending stalactites boast a rainbow of shining colors.
Bo Hon Island is another large island in Ha Long Bay renowned for its splendid beauty. In a picturesque scene of vertical cliffs forming a citadel wall and lush vegetation paints a pastoral scene. The popular grottoes of Surprise, Virgin, Male and Luon are located on this island. Decorated in cycads and orchids, the island is home to deer, monkeys and chamois.
With its blue waters and scenic grottoes, the Ha Long Islands are a cornucopia of natural wonder.