11:32 | 10/01/2019 Culture & Tourism
(VEN) - Located in Vietnam’s northeastern province of Quang Ninh, Ha Long Bay is known for its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests. Junk boat tours and sea kayak expeditions take visitors past islands named for their shapes, including Stone Dog and Teapot islets. The region is popular for scuba diving, rock climbing and hiking.
Ha Long Bay is rich in biodiversity with 2,949 plant and animal species living in 10 types of tropical ecosystems, including 102 rare species whose existence is being threatened, and 17 flora species that are only found in Ha Long water.
Research results show that Ha Long Bay is filled with diverse tropical ecosystems including coastal mangrove habitat, coral reefs, seagrass habitat and tropical tree forests. According to marine scientists, there are 163 species of corals in the bay, which form disks, tree-shapes, and underwater gardens of many colors. The coral reefs create a vibrant habitat for as many as 107 species of fish, as well as seaweed, crustaceans, and microscopic marine creatures.
In addition to the coral reefs, one can find mangrove forests in many of the coastal areas of Ha Long Bay, particularly near Tuan Chau, Cua Luc, and Ba Che. The Quang Ninh area is home to many varieties of mangrove trees most abundant in northern Vietnam. Mangrove forests create a unique landscape of fascinating intertidal life including fish, crustaceans, and shellfish and support a variety of migrating birds.
Besides the two ecosystems mentioned above, Ha Long Bay has abundant tropical forests with many species of trees and plants. The forest ecosystems house rare wild animals such as deer, mink, squirrels, and monkeys.
Unique geology and geomorphology:
Ha Long Bay has outstanding geological and geomorphological values. These include the scientific values of regional geology, quaternary geology, marine geology and karstic geomorphology. In addition, there are the resource values of minerals and tourism and the ancillary values of archeology and biodiversity. Of these, the value of the karstic geomorphology is the most outstanding and unique, and plays a fundamental role in the science of karstic geomorphology. The geological and geomorphological value of Ha Long Bay is also displayed through the system of caves.
Ha Long Bay covers an area of 1,553 square kilometers including 1,969 islets with such unique and picturesque caves as Thien Cung, Dau Go and Ba Hang caves and Trong Mai, Dinh Huong and Cho Da (Stone Dog) islets.
Ha Long Bay has a great number of magnificent and mysterious caves that attract a wide range of domestic and foreign tourists. Following is a list of must-see caves in Ha Long Bay: Sung Sot, Bo Nau, Me Cung, Trong, Trinh Nu, Dau Go, Hanh, Luon, Tam Cung, and Thien Cung.
Marine culture park:
Visitors to Ha Long Bay can learn about the ancient Vietnamese people through relics such those found in Tien Ong Cave. Besides its natural beauty, Tien Ong Cave draws attention from archaeological experts for stone artifacts of the Hoa Binh culture dated to 10000-2000 BCE. If you are lucky to go with a knowledgeable and experienced guide, your trip will be even more eye opening with fantastic history lessons of cave exploration. Tien Ong Cave was officially opened for tourism in 2010. Visitors can also learn about the lives of Ha Long fishermen at the Cua Van Floating Cultural Center and Ba Men Temple Festival.
Ha Long Bay offers a variety of limestone islets, especially the Xep Islet Park with its Co, Thay and Cap La caves and the pristine Ban Chan and Bai Dong beaches.
Historical and cultural values:
Ha Long was the cradle of the ancient Vietnamese people with three successive prehistoric cultures dating from 18,000 to 3,500 years BC. The region preserves traditional fishing cultures and relics featuring Vietnamese victories in the nation’s development and defense.
Ha Long cuisine:
Ha Long is renowned for high quality seafood including squid, shrimp, stomatopoda, crab, and oysters of different kinds, among others. The Ha Long market is one of the biggest seafood markets in the area, which offers high quality fresh seafood caught in the bay.
How to reach Ha Long by car?
From Hanoi - the capital - one can reach Ha Long on National Highway 18 through Bac Ninh and Hai Duong provinces, or on the Hanoi-Hai Phong expressway. Ha Long Bay can be admired from a helicopter or toured one of many tour boats.
Tickets to visit Ha Long Bay are sold daily from 6:30 to 18:30 at the ports of Tuan Chau and Vinashin for VND250,000/person (for one of routes 1,2 and 5) and VND200,000/person (for one of routes 3 and 4). Disabled people, children and people recognized for their meritorious services to the nation’s revolution enter free of charge and Vietnamese over 60 get a 50 percent discount.
Ha Long City:
Ha Long City is located on the shores of Ha Long Bay with many tourist attractions. Visitors can wander about the streets, climb the surrounding mountains and visit cultural projects in the city.
Hotels, resorts, entertainment and trade centers:
There are international standard resorts, hotels, entertainment and shopping centers in Ha Long City, among them the My Ngoc pearl center, Marine Plaza, and Vincom Ha Long.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized Ha Long Bay as a World
Natural Heritage for its aesthetic, geological and geomorphological values in 1994 and 2000, respectively. The
Government of Vietnam rated Ha Long Bay as a special national relic site in 2009, while the New7Wonders
Foundation voted it as one of the seven natural wonders of the world in 2011.