Drifting across the tranquil seas of Halong Bay you would be forgiven for thinking yourself in another world. Here nearly 2,000 limestone islands and peaks, crowned with green foliage, jutting from emerald waters create one of Vietnam’s most picturesque panoramas. Purportedly created by great dragons, today Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a wealth of caves, grottoes and islands to explore.
Cruising the bay is the only way to truly enjoy it. Weave your way through the bay on an old style wooden junk boat – en route you’ll stop off at caves and islands, enjoying food freshly prepared on board. You have the option of a day trip from Hanoi but we would strongly recommend spending at least one night on the bay, to make sure you make the most of the fantastic scenery, and seeing it in a variety of different lights, from sunrise to sunset. With longer cruises there are plenty of additional activities that you can try – visiting fish farms and taking to the water yourself in a kayak or for a swim are just a few. For those with even more time, spend a night on an island and explore deeper into the bay, where you’ll come across empty sandy coves and national parks.
Halong Bay’s largest island, much of Cat Ba is rugged and jungle-swathed. Roughly half of the island is designated a national park due to the diverse ecosystems that reside within it – if you venture into the islands interior you’ll also find lakes, waterfalls and grottoes amongst the limestone peaks characteristic of Halong Bay as a whole. Cat Ba town is a lively tourist resort, though most of Cat Ba is untouched, and from here you can take to the waters, kayaking and sailing on the beautiful Lan Ha Bay.
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The world’s largest and most populous continent, Asia is a vibrant and rambunctious fusion of ethnicities, cultures and customs; an incomparably rich and turbulent history showcased by mindboggling feats of architecture and engineering; a geography that encompasses towering peaks, unfathomable gorges and paradisiacal beaches; and a biodiversity that is so abundant that you’ll be reaching for your wildlife guide.