Southeast Asia is an extremely picturesque region and Vietnam in particular is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The south of the country is home to the Mekong Delta, with its amazing floating markets and unique ways of life. The central regions have amazing beaches and the cultural heritage of Hué and Hoi An. The north has the stunning mountain scenery of Sapa and the jewel in the crown, that is, Halong Bay.
Halong Bay is quite simply astonishing. It is huge, for a start, covering about 600 square miles. The sea is clear and blue and the whole bay is dotted with almost two thousand islands. They are actually limestone karsts. Some are no more than lumps of uninhabited rock. Whilst others, are real islands with local communities of people and incredible wildlife.
The largest of these islands is the beautiful Cat Ba. Half of the island forms the Cat Ba National Park and is home to extremely rare and endangered species of flora and fauna. The most well known is the Cat Ba Langur, a primate that was so endangered in 2000 that its numbers were down to just 53. Conservationists working in the park have managed to brink it back from the brink of extinction.
Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was also voted as one of the Seven Wonders of Nature in a global poll. This is not just one of the most beautiful bays in Vietnam, it is one of the best anywhere in the world. People visit in their thousands, taking holidays on board the many cruise boats that ply their trade in the bay. The watch word here is quality. These are high end luxury cruise craft, offering a standard of accommodation expected normally in a five star hotel.
The boats are superbly well appointed, with luxury cabins all with en suite facilities and private balconies. The captains and crew are professional people, well trained in all aspects of service and safety. The boats have their own chefs, serving up fabulous Vietnamese and Western food in exquisite dining rooms. Travelers get to enjoy dinner, then retire to the sun deck to sip cocktails and take in the view as the sun bids goodbye on another stunning day.
Some of the islands are home to caves and boat tour companies stop off so passengers can explore these and also enjoy scenic views from high up on the islands. Probably the best known of these caves is the Sung Sot or Surprise Cave. Holiday makers have to climb up to the entrance high above the bay, where they can take in the amazing scenery before, delving deep into the mysterious cave to witness an incredible underground landscape. Stalagmites and stalactites have been formed over millennia, and other unusual cave formations are illuminated by electric lights.
Halong Bay is one of the best holiday destinations in the world, no holiday to Vietnam can be complete without seeing it.
About The Author: Keith Hancock is a singer/songwriter and writer based in Saigon, Vietnam. He has lived in Asia for more than 5 years and travels throughout the continent researching and writing. He’s also Publication Manager of HalongLuxuryTravel– the #1 ranked Halong Bay tour operator in Vietnam. Keith is one of only two DIAMOND STATUS rated writers on Ezine articles in the whole of Indochina He has had work published in magazines and websites in the UK, Europe, USA, Australia and Asia. His great loves are music and travel, but he writes on a whole range of subjects.