Halong Bay overview
One of Vietnam’s most prized treasures and one of the country’s most popular places to visit, Halong Bay (meaning ‘descending dragon’) is dominated by more than 1,600 uninhabited limestone karsts and islets which rise majestically out of the emerald blue waters to heights of up to 100 meters (330 feet). The sheer size and numbers of these outcrops provide a stunning contrast and backdrop to the Bay’s water as viewed from sea level on The Au Co.
Such is the geological significance of Halong Bay that in 1994, UNESCO recognized it as a natural World Heritage site. Furthermore, in 2011 it was voted one of the world’s new 7 Wonders of Nature.
Almost 1,000 of Halong Bay’s outstanding islets and rocky outcrops have been given imaginative names by locals over the years. Derived from their perceived shapes they include names such as Man’s Head, Wading Ox, Wallowing Buffalo and perhaps the most famous of all, Fighting Cocks, which we will pass on the first day of your cruise.
Halong Bay is deeply entrenched in the Vietnamese national psyche, particularly as a great number of myths, legends and folklore surround the Bay. Floating fishing villages are the most popular human attraction. Entire village populations live, work and die on these ’floating islands’, and on the second day of your cruise you will have an opportunity to see and visit some of the locals, as they ply the waters around their villages selling their fresh produce to the passing tourists.
The sea in Halong Bay is generally less than 10 meters (33 feet) deep and boasts a rich biodiversity of about 1,000 species of marine animals, as well as over 160 species of coral. You will have an opportunity on the first day of your cruise to swim and snorkel in the Bay’s waters and also to kayak into some of the hidden lagoons.
Surprising Cave, you will visit on the third day of our Halong Bay tour
Another exceptional geological feature is the number of limestone islands which have caves and grottoes within them, many of which we can see during our Halong Bay cruises. The total number of caves has never been determined and there are almost certainly more which are yet to be discovered. On the final day of The Au Co cruise you will have a chance to visit one of the most commonly visited grottoes, Sung Sot (Surprise) cave.