Halong Bay is a unique natural monument that has long been the main symbol of Vietnam. Millions of years ago, sea waves invaded the coastal plain teeming with limestone cliffs. It is estimated that 90% of visitors to Vietnam call Halong Bay the main goal of their often close trip. This place is really unique and unique. In a relatively small coastal area of 1500 sq km are scattered 1969 islands, of which only 989 have names.
Most of the rocks in Halong are covered with curly-plated greenery, many of them are deep karst caves that keep ancient secrets. Among them there are no twins - each has its own unique appearance, sometimes so bizarre that the locals associate with such rocks legend. Only half of the islands have names, and the permanent population is available for only two. Landscapes of the bay can be admired forever - at different times of the day, in different light and weather, Halong appears in a new, but invariably beautiful guise. For a long time of war and political disasters made it inaccessible to travelers, but now it is the most popular natural monument of Vietnam.
In fact, there are two bays here: Halong and Baitylong (Vinh Bai Tu Long)lying to the east of it. Both are literally strewn with tower islands made of limestone and slates. By the way, the territory, which is in the care of UNESCO, occupies less than a third of the total area and has "only" 775 islands. Only tourist and passenger vessels of a small displacement can enter this fabulous area. The rest of the area is actively shipping and marine fishing.
Camilla and Jean-Baptiste, the young characters of the film Indochina, escape from the pursuers on a junk, easily sliding on the calm sea. The cloudy sky is reflected in the waves, telling them a metallic sheen. The boat goes further, the fog begins to thin, and through it there are outlines of countless rocks, topped with curly caps of vegetation and rising directly from the water, like towers ... Cameraman Francois Catonne masterfully captured the Gulf of Halong - a source of pride in Vietnam. The film regis Varnier is not the only film where you can see scenes shot against the backdrop of the famous landscapes of the bay. In 1997, Halong appeared in "Tomorrow Never Dies," the 18th series of the famous "Bondians."
Almost all the islands are uninhabited. There is a permanent population in the Gulf only on the largest islands, Katba and Tuantyau. And there are people who chose to settle not on the islands, but directly on the water. About 1,500 people live in several floating villages anchored in different parts of Halonga.
Travel agencies, which have no number in the Old Town of the Vietnamese capital, offer different programs of visiting the bay and islands as part of the prefabricated groups. A two-day program with one night on the ship will cost 16-18 USD. A three-night two-night cruise - on a ship and a hotel on Katba Island - starts at $45 to $55. Trekking Travel (www.trekkingtravel.com.vn),South Pacific Travel (www.southpacifichp.com) and Vega Travel (www.vega-travel.com) enjoy a reputation as reliable and not too expensive cruise operators in Halong. In the tourist harbour, you can join a group going for a day trip to the nearest islands (with a visit to the cave Daw zo)but such a voyage is unlikely to cost you less than 10 USD and will also be devoid of the delights of admiring the sunset and dawn among the islands.
In Halong Bay, two main seasons are highlighted. The warm and humid summer season lasts from May to October. The average temperature in these months is 26.4 degrees Celsius, but it can rise to 35 degrees Celsius. It falls once a day, and, as a rule, at night. A much more serious problem is typhoons, whose season in Halong lasts from August to October. In winter in Halong there is a cool and relatively dry weather with an average air temperature of about 20 degrees Celsius (can drop to 15 degrees Celsius).
The first stop of all cruise ships is a small group of islands 15 km from the harbor, where tourists take a walk. Ships enter the bay framed by high rocks and, turning their noses to the shore, line up along the concrete pier. When there are no free "parking spaces" at the pier, the captains begin to moor to the stern of more speedy colleagues and offer passengers to go ashore on someone else's deck. Landing on the islands includes a visit to the largest karst cave in Halong Dauso (Dau Go, or Bamboo Pillars). Before landing, the accompanying group guide hands out tickets to the wards (30,000 dong, included in the price of the tour),which should be presented at the entrance to the grotto, which is located in the rocks high above the harbor.
The standard two-day trip to Halong starts around 8 a.m. with the group leaving Hanoi. The crossing takes approximately 3 hours (including one stop for rest) and ends at the pier of the tourist harbor of Baichai, the western district of Halong. Tourists are placed on a two-deck motor junk, above which props raise the prop rail sails (usually red or brick), and the ship sails in a southerly direction.
Leaving the cave, the group gradually returns to the ship. During the visit to the cave, the team manages to cook lunch, which always turns out to be very useful. After despairing, the ship bypasses the island from the west side and delves into the maze of islets surrounding the large island of Katba. Passing the floating village 13, consisting of two dozen rafts swaying on the water with colorful plywood houses, it approaches the kissing rocks of I. Once upon a time the winds and sea waves destroyed the middle part of the tiny island. The debris above the water is tilted towards each other and really resembles a couple in love, ready to merge in a kiss. The walk through the bay continues until the evening, after which the ship anchors under the cover of one of the picturesque rocks. Depending on the season and the weather, swimming, kayaking, visiting a floating village or sitting in the "liner" cabin are offered as evening entertainment. Some companies arrange for passengers culinary classes, film screenings and similar events with a national flavor. The next morning the ship is removed from the anchor after breakfast and about 10 o'clock disembarks tourists where they began their voyage the day before.
All vehicles from Hanoi enter the provincial capital of Kuangnin from the south-west on Highway 18. Tourist buses, delivering cruise groups, drive immediately to the pier. If you come to Halong this way, you will have to drive from the pier for about 1.5 km to get to Vuon Dao,where the main part of the budget hotels of Baichai is located. The beginning of the street looks like a vast intersection along the main coastal highway - Halong Road. At the very beginning of the Wynn Tao you will see two fish restaurants with aquariums and tables in the open air. On the opposite side of the street is the post office. The street with a gentle ascent, going to the left of Halong Road, and there is vun Dao. Hotels start right behind these restaurants. Buses arrive at the Ben He Mien Tau bus station on Ka Lan Street in Bachay. The street Vyun Dao from here can be reached by motorbike (10,000 dong).