Ha Long Bay in Vietnam is truly a scenic paradise that nature enthusiasts and adventure travelers should not mmiss. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprised of about 1600 islands and islets of limestone formation. It is a distinctly scenic seascape with spectacular pillars cascading throughout the bay. Located off Ha Long city (on the northern tip of Vietnam), it takes around half an hour to reach from the main Bay area. Halong literally translates as ‘where the dragon descends into the sea’ and according to local legend, this ethereal seascape was gouged out by a great dragon with its thrashing tail.
Due to its uneven landscape, most of the islands remain largely untouched by humans. The only human presence are boats ferrying tourists and the community of fishermen living there, which makes it ideal for a peaceful getaway.
You can book a Junk boat to have a day tour around Ha Long Bay, or you could be a little more adventurous and spend a week out in the open sea to experience everything this site has to offer! Here are 5 adventurous takeaways from Ha Long Bay:
1. The Limestone Pillars
The highlight of Ha Long Bay are the resplendent limestone pillars jutting out from the surface of the sea. By the end of your stay here, you would have seen way too many of these mystic formations. The “Kissing Cocks”, pictured above, is the most famous of these. These are a sight to behold and stay in your memory as a combination of mysticism, excitement and adventure, make them an unforgettable experience.
Although Ha Long Bay isn’t really a popular hiking destination, it’s actually one of the best. To go hiking here, you need to travel by boat to one of the communal living areas of Ha Long Bay. Here you will be greeted with a footpath from the docks to the main hiking trail. The treks here are particularly interesting because of the immense variety of sights along the way; from terraced farming, to jungles, crossing myriad waterfalls and delightful views of the sea. You will even see farmers working on their fields on each side of the trail.
The hike goes on for approximately 3 hours. It is not a difficult hike, which makes it perfect for amateur hikers who visit the bay.
Ha Long bay is one of the best spots for kayaking. The waters here are calm and peaceful and the 1600-odd islands provide an extremely scenic backdrop to the swishing sounds of paddles hitting the water.
An interesting kayaking experience here is going through the Luon Caves. You traverse through a cave tunnel and emerge into the beautiful Luon Caves. This enclave has its own isolated habitat of jellyfish living in the water and the ever-present troupes of monkeys. It’s widely considered as one of the most beautiful places in Halong Bay itself. Given the presence of the rocky-outcrop islands, it’s no surprise that rock climbing ( deep-water soloing ) has also developed as a related activity. Not widely known, though nearby, Cat Ba is also known for kayaking and rock-climbing, often together.
There are also plenty of Limestone caves to explore in this region. The Surprise Cave, earlier known as the “Grotto de la Surprise”, is one of the more majestic ones. A really narrow path leads upto a gigantic and spacious cavern. The caves are surprisingly cool, with the limestone formations in recognizable shapes definitely worth marveling at. The chandelier like stalactites and pillars of stalactites really lend a sense of majesty to this work of art. Sometimes it is also called The Cave of Unfathomable Depth.
The Ha Long Bay itself is pretty crowded with boats. The boats exist in different sizes and shapes, and you will get to see all of them. The junk boats are meant for tours around the bay and end up being your primary mode of transport. Tourists are spotted standing on the upper deck. They also serve as hotels for those who choose to spend the night aboard. Other boats sail to the side of your boat to sell goods, sometimes showing up at night as well.
A paradise for nature and sea lovers, Ha Long bay has something for everyone. If you’re fond of the outdoors and love adventures, put this on your Bucket List immediately. Cheers and keep on adventuring!
About The Author: I am Ankit. Inordinately fond of tea and spices, my food choices endorse my Norteast Indian roots. I’ve lived in over 20 places and am always on the lookout for my next home and my next adventure. I am an adventure freak and write about adventure travels and sports. AlienAdv is a blog for people who want to go on Adventures, but don’t know how to start or narrow down the best schools and guides. I share my own travel stories (in the South East Asia and internationally) and my best tips and advice on issues like road-trips, scuba-diving nuggets, and paragliding. I offer the perspective and real-world tips that only someone who actively indulges in adventure-sports regularly can offer. You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter
Photo Source: Google Commons