Reservations 877·97·CRAFT  (877·972·7238)

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay, which means descending dragon, is located in Northeast Vietnam, on the South China Sea's Gulf of Tonkin. The 75-mile-long bay and the almost 2,000 limestone islands jutting out of the sea are so distinctive and beautiful that they were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Natural grottos and caves can be found throughout the area, making Halong Bay even more spectacular. Local lore credits the creation of the bay's islands to a dragon that fell from the sky in a fight to protect Vietnam from invaders. Tourism is the major industry here, and Vietnam's future challenge will be to balance the influx of visitors and the protection of the natural beauty that draws people here.


The main attraction here is the sheer natural beauty and magical allure of Halong Bay and the limestone islands dotting its waters. Nearby Cat Ba Island National Park offers hiking, cave adventures, snorkeling, and rich wildlife, including a chance to spot the endangered Golden Langur, a species of monkey. For the more adventurous, sea kayaking among the islands is popular. A number of caves also are worth exploring. Hang Sung Sot (Surprise) Cave on Bon Hon Island features stone formations that look to some like a general addressing soldiers. Tien Ong Cave contains artifacts that suggest the cave was used by ancient peoples some 8-10,000 years ago. Thien Cung (Heaven) Cave's stalactites and stalagmites are colorful and considered among the most beautiful. The Bai Chuy market offers local vegetables and fruits as well as textiles and clothing. A side trip to Hanoi, Vietnam's capital city, is about a 2-and-a-half-hour drive one way. Another tour option is to Haiphong to see the Du Hang Pagoda, originally built in the Tien Le Dynasty (980-1009) and home to some 500 wooden sculptures.