One of the most distinctive images that come to mind when thinking of Vietnam is perhaps the vision of huge karst forms, limestone islands shooting almost vertically dozens of meters straight from the tranquil waters of the surrounding sea.
It’s the Halong Bay: a wonderful landscape of limestone cliffs enshrouded in mist. The magic and majesty of this place remain with travelers for many days—and this UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Vietnam.
A traditional junk-style boat in Halong Bay
Not to miss is the experience of an overnight cruise on a traditional junk-style boat. Sailing the calm waters on board such a floating mini-hotel is an adventure in itself. We did just that — booked an overnight stay in a colonial-style suite, with plush fittings and a balcony overlooking the misty waters as the boat sailed along the karst cliff islands.
The cruise allowed us to dine in a cave, an impromptu “restaurant” with very impressive roots: early humans lived here over 64 thousand years ago, leaving behind piles of freshwater snail shells—evidence that the unusual Halong Bay rocks not always have been flooded with seawater.
Good to know
Various guides talk about the “crystal clear” water of Halong Bay, but this is not quite true. The growing industries of Vietnam leave their footprint on this beautiful corner of the world. So does smog from China, affecting the transparency of the air. Combined with frequent cloud cover in Halong this makes sunny and clear days a rarity here.
Photos by Laskowski & Zadros, © TravelPlusStyle.com