Ha Long Bay - what you need to know

Ha Long Bay is without a doubt one of the best spots in Vietnam. The untouched beauty of the naturally formed limestone islets and winding cave formations makes for an awe-inspiring experience that has to be seen to be believed.

Officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site from 1994 and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2011, Ha Long Bay offers an adventure for all walks of life.

In addition to the actual bay, the surrounding ecosystem provides opportunities to explore lush wilderness and see indigenous animal species. Halong Bay is rich in natural beauty and wildlife. Ancient trees are home to a diverse bird population including Black Kites, herons, egrets, terns and gulls.

Go Caving at Sung Sot Grotto

Sung Sot Cave (Surprise Cave) is situated in the center of Halong Bay's heritage zone. It lies on Bo Hon Island group, surrounded by the Bo Nau Cave, Me Cung Cave, Luon Cave and Ti Top Island. The cave was “discovered” by the French in 1901 and was known as Grotte des surprises (Cave of the Surprise).

As you enter the cave, the way is covered by trees and foliage, and consists of great paved stone blocks. Inside, it is partitioned into two chambers; the first one being similar to a wide theatre hall. Many stalactites hang from the high ceiling, with numerous possible forms and shapes.

This stretch is the most known and one of the most beautiful stretches of caves in the entire area. Larger than other caves, it’s possible for your entire boat to enter unobstructed. This is a great opportunity for photos.

Kayaking

To really explore the bay you’re going to have to get off the tour boat and into a kayak. This will allow you get close to the rock formations. Depending on the tide and water levels, you may be able to kayak into and sometimes even through some of the rocks. If you’ve never done this kind of thing before it is not to be missed.

Floating Village

Roughly sixteen hundred people live in the fishing villages that are anchored by the countless rocks and islands in the bay. For these people life revolves around the bay and they support themselves through what it can provide for them. Getting on board of one of these fishing shanties is a great chance to try your hand at some local fishing and the experience the local culture. At the very least, you will learn about the life of the locals.

Squid Fishing

Few experiences are as authentically Vietnamese as squid fishing. Squid fishing usually occurs from sunset and onward through the night when squid typically are active and feeding. Tour guides will ferry you out to popular feeding areas and show you the most effective methods for fishing. Prepare yourself, the squid usually come at once; one bite is usually followed by several—and usually doesn’t stop until you’ve caught all that you need.

Once the fishing ends, the night begins—it’s not unusual for a nightcap to ensue on the boat. Cooking what you’ve caught, the staff will usually serve you fresh squid and serve other complimentary dishes in addition to beer and wine. The evening is capped off with live music and sightseeing.

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