Halong bay, heaven on earth

Halong bay

Halong bay

Halong in northeast Vietnam, is one of the most scenically beautifully places on earth. It is no wonder that it has won so many accolades from significant organisations all over the planet. UNESCO inscribed Halong bay Vietnam onto their list of World Heritage Sites and it was chosen as one of the “Seven Wonders of Nature”. CNN and Tatler also singled it out as one of the most important and beautiful holiday destinations. Something of Vietnam’s secret until quite recently, it has been growing in popularity over the last decade. As Southeast Asia has opened up, more people are choosing a two or three center holiday, and Vietnam has been the big winner.

As the bay has grown in popularity, so has the preponderance of tour boat companies, operating within the area. In peak season nowadays, some 8000 people per day will be cruising round this six hundred square mile paradise, enjoying luxury surroundings and fine dining, whilst taking in the most breathtaking views imaginable. The luxury on board these vessels is outstanding. Beautifully decorated cabins, with en-suite facilities and private balconies, welcome cruise boat passengers to their floating hotels, every night.

The bay is an amazing example of nature’s finest work. Two thousand limestone islands, known as karsts, pepper the entire bay, creating different vistas at every turn. Sitting on the top deck of a luxury cruise boat, after eating a superb dinner, sipping cocktails as the sun goes down, has to be one of life’s finest experiences. Some of the limestone islands are little more than inhabitable lumps of rock jutting skywards. Others, however, are complete islands with their own ecosystems and local populations.

The rock formations throw up amazing geological wonders. The Sung Sot Cave for example is a much visited example. Translated as ‘The Surprise Cave’, it is to be found on Bo Hon Island. It is accessed by climbing high up on the hillside. This affords those passengers adventurous enough, with superb views around the bay, before they descend into the magic and mystery of the cave. Enormous stalagmites and stalactites are found here, including one superb example of a column. There is a garden and a pond at the very heart of the cave. Here monkeys and birds come daily, in search of food.

As night falls on the bay, an air of complete mystery falls over it. Boats drop anchor and bob gently in the water as guests, enjoy drinks and get ready to retire for the evening. Many sit on deck, beneath a blanket of stars, enjoying the tranquility. It really is a magical experience in a truly magical place. After retiring they can drift of to sleep, as the boats sways gently in the waters of the bay. Sunrise brings yet another view and yet more beauty. As the daylight pushes the darkness aside, mists roll in and shroud the karsts in a mysterious grey covering.

This is a fabulous holiday destination at most times of the year. Each season has its merits, and avoiding the typhoon that come between July and August, is your only weather concern.

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