Halong Bay is one of the most well-known destinations in Vietnam; famous for its dramatic landscape of limestone karsts that jut out of the ocean.
It’s steeped in local lore and legend; the story says that dragons flew down from the sky to help locals defend their country from outsiders. As they swirled around the sky, they crashed into the rock towers and the coastline to create the caves and grottoes we see today. This is how Halong Bay got its name; in the local language it means ‘the bay of descending dragons’. Even if the dragon tale isn’t 100% true, we do know that Halong Bay is an idyllic destination full of mysteries to discover – you just have to look for them.
Halong Bay is known for its thousands of karst islands dotted around the sea. Some are covered in thick jungle vegetation, others are lined by pure white sands. Some are huge, others barely come out of the water. Adventurous travellers should check out the hollow islands, too; their caves are legendary. Jump on a junk boat cruise to explore the bay and watch out for the floating houses on the shores. They’re painted in such bright colours that you definitely won’t miss them!
Sim Soi is a popular island; it’s a great place for swimming, mountain climbing and just relaxing on the beach. More adventurous travellers can cycle from Viet Hai Pier to discover untouched forests, or even a buffalo or two. Ti Top island gives you a great perspective of Halong Bay. Hike up to the viewing platform on its summit, then grab a cocktail at the beach-side bar on your way down.
From your junk boat you can also hire kayaks and paddle off to explore the concealed caves and solitary beaches on your own. You can almost guarantee that no one will disturb you. There is something distinctly otherworldly about Halong Bay (even if you’re seeing it second time round). It could have something to do with the dragons, but it might be more about its unusual landscape.
Head out in the early morning to see the pillars of rock peeking through the mist. It’s a truly memorable sight.
Plan your trip to Halong Bay today.