Ha Long Bay - A Magnificent Magical Destination

Ha Long Bay is said to be a magic land of natural sea bay beauty, attracting more and more tourists ever since UNESCO’s recognition of its nature!

Overview

Area: 208.7 sq. km 
Population: 215,000 habitants (2009)
Administrative division: 
Wards: Ha Khanh, Ha Lam, Ha Trung, Ha Phong, Ha Tu, Hong Hai, Cao Thang, Cao Xanh, Yet Kieu, Tran Hung Dao, Bach Dang, Hon Gai, Bai Chay, Hong Ha, Ha Khau, Gieng Day, Hung Thang, Tuan Chau
Communes: Viet Hung, Dai Yen.
Ethnic groups: Mainly the Viet (or Kinh)

1. Location & Climate

Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay is located in the Northeast of Vietnam, belonging to Ha Long city, Quang Ninh Province, in the Gulf of Tonkin. On the world map, it has borders to China in the North and adjacent to the East Sea in the East.

The Bay has a medium size of 1,553 square kilometers. It is accomodation of many fishing communities, including the 4 communes of Cua Van, Cong Tau, Vong Vieng and Ba Hang with a population of more than 1,600 people. The residents live on floating houses and boats, making their own lives by fishing and aquaculture.

The bay is a sea islands in tropical wet with 2 seasons: hot and moist summer, dry and cold winter. Average temperature is from 15°C- 25°C. Annual rainfall is between 2,000mm and 2,200mm.  Ha Long Bay has the typical diurnal tide system (tide amplitude ranges from 3.5-4m). The salinity is from 31 to 34.5MT in dry season and lower in rainy season.

2. Historical name

Literally, “Ha Long” means "Bay of Descending Dragons." Before the 19th century, this name was not recorded in any document or archive. In this term, there is a mysteriously legendary tale as follows 

“Long ago, in the first founding days, the Viet people were attacked by foreign aggressors. The Jade Emperor sent the Mother Dragon and her band of Child Dragons to help the Viet people fight the invaders.

While the enemy vessels were launching massive attacks against the mainland, the dragons descended in flocks from the sky. They spat out innumerable pearls which changed into jade stone islands the moment they touched the water. These islands linked together to form firm citadels that checked the enemy’s advance and smashed their vessels to pieces.

After the invaders were driven out, Mother Dragon and her Child Dragons did not return to Heaven but stayed on earth, right at the place where the battle occurred. The spot where the Mother Dragon landed was Ha Long, and where the Child Dragons came down was Bai Tu Long.

The place where their tails violently wagged was called Long Vi, the today’s Tra Co Peninsula with its soft sandy beach stretching a series of kilometers.”

Gifted Beauty & top sightseeings

Thien Cung Cave
Thien Cung Cave

In 1962, the Ministry of Culture and Information classified Halong Bay as a National Landscape Site, covering an area of 1,553 km2 with 1,969 islands .Halong Bay has been recognized twice by UNESCO as a World Heritage Area for its universal values of landscape, geology and geomorphology, respectively in 1994 and 2000, an area of 434 sq. km. including 775 islands.

The dense cluster of 1,969 limestone monolithic islands within the bay is topped with thick jungle vegetation, which rise spectacularly from the ocean. Most of the islands were formed over 500 million years ago, and massed in the Southeast and Southwest. Those in the Southeast have an average height of 50-200m, covering lots of flora. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves.

Hang Đầu Gỗ (Wooden stakes Cave) is the largest grotto in the Ha Long area. French tourists visited in the late 19th century, and named the cave Grotte des Merveilles. Its three large chambers contain large numerous stalactites and stalagmites (as well as 19th century French graffiti). There are two bigger islands, Tuan Chau and Cat Ba that have permanent inhabitants.

Both of them have tourist facilities, including hotels and beaches. There are a number of wonderful beaches on the smaller islands. The others are Bai Chay, Ti Top, Minh Chau, Quan Lan and so forth.

Viewed from above, Ha Long Bay looks like an extremely vivid huge drawing, and sailing beneath the bay is like leisuring in between a huge valey on water. Ha Long bay is exactly a wonderfully skillful masterpiece of Nature that turns thousands of dumb soulless stone islands into fantastic sculptural and artistic works of various graceful shapes, both familiar and strange to human beings.

Thousands of islands emerging in the fanciful waves look strong and magnificent but also mild and vivid. Amidst these islands tourists may feel as if they were astrayed in a petrified legendary world. The names given to the islands were based on their shapes and forms, such as, Human head Island, Sail island, Fighting cocks islands… Inside the stone islands are various breath-taking caves like Thien Cung, Dau Go, Sung Sot, and others.

These are really magnificent palace of many huge stalactites hanging poised in mid air and stalagmites growing majestically upwards. Ha Long’s sea is always the same, blue, smooth and still.

What is more, the bay has its own seasoned beauty. In Spring, buds of trees burst on limestone islands. In Summer, it is cool and clean with many sparkling sun rays reflecting from the sea’s surface. In Autumn, especially at night, moonlight illuminates the mountains, making them like gold, inlaid into the earth. In Winter, with pervasive frost, Ha Long is glamorous as “a floating flower basket on smooth wave” (by writer Nguyen Tuan). All of them, stone, water and sky, make the Aesthetic value of Ha Long Bay

The Bay’s Geological value is evaluated in two ways: by the history of its formation and its karst geomorphology. It is also home to the ancient Viet people beginning from 7,000 to 18,000 years ago, Ha Long’s Cultural − Historical value. Besides, Bio-diversity is an important natural resource, to be well-conserved so as to maintain the ecological balance of the whole region.

Ha Long Bay is undoubtedly not only a national but also a world nature, a magnificient work of Natural Creator. People who are admirers of natural beauty should stand up, pack their luggages, and right away pick up a flight to Ha Long, or else they will soon feel regretful!

3. Enjoying fascinating scenery in Bai Tu Long

Bai Tu Long National Park
Bai Tu Long National Park

Belonged to the well-known Ha Long Bay - a world cultural heritage, Bai Tu Long National Park will bring you amazed feeling and unforgettable experience!

Be away some 200 kilometers from Hanoi, Bai Tu Long National Park is one of seven Vietnamese amphibian national parks which have both terrestrial zone and aquatic zone. The eco-tourist site is now the home to 672 species of terrestrial plants and 178 aquatic floral species, of which 11 species have been listed in Vietnam’s Red Book of endangered species.

It also boasts 170 species of terrestrial animals, including nine species listed as endangered in Vietnam’s Red Book; 119 species of fish; 132 species of invertebrate animals; and 106 species of corals.

Natural Condition

Bai Tu Long National Park is a protected area zone in North Vietnam. Established in 2001, surrounded by gigantic rocky limestone mountains, the park covers 15,783 ha, including 6,125 ha of island land and 9,658 ha of tidal land on Ba Mun, Tra Ngo Lon, Tra Ngo Nho, Sau Nam, Sau Dong, Dong Ma, and more than 20 other small islands.

Apart from its biological diversity, the park boasts wonderful natural landscapes, intact beaches, archaeological sites of ancient Vietnam and vestiges of the former busy trading port of Van Don. Coming to Bai Tu Long every season, you can enjoy very the early beauty of an island with mountain ranges, beaches, stilt house, and sea foods. 

One of the highlighted features of the Bai Tu Long tourist site is the sea eco-tourism community, 60 kilometers from Bai Chay by road or more than one hour by high-speed boat. The National Park also include a buffer zone of approximately 165.34 km2, which locates in a larger area include five communes: Minh Chau, Van Yen, Ban Sen, Quan Lan and Ha Long. The total population of the core zone and the buffer zone is around 24.000.

Ecosystem

The National Park includes five kinds of ecosystems: Rain Broad Leaves Forest, Limestone Forest, Littoral Forest, Coral Area and Shallow Water Area.

The Rain Broad Leaves Forest area is mostly secondary forest. It has been found 494 species belonging to 337 genera of 117 families in this type of ecosystem. Some endangered species include Cycas balansae, Radix marindae officinalis, Ardisia sylvestris Pitard, Smilax glabra, Leopard cat, Indian muntjac, Small Indian civet, Large Indian civet.

The Limestone Forest area is forest growing in poor soil which the particles of limestone on rocky islands. Some rare animal found their include Serow, Rhesus macaque.

The Littoral Ecosystem in the park is small areas surrounding the islands. It has a rather large tidal variation and is biologically highly diverse with 251 species including 19 species of mangrove, 17 species of seaweed, 29 species of marine worms, 149 species of molluscs, 22 species of crustaceans and 15 species of echinoderms.

The Coral area locates from the water depths of low tide to 10m deep. 409 species was found including groupers, sea bass, crabs, snails, abalone and seaweeds.

The Shallow Water areas cover a large area around the islands, beyond the tidal area and extend from 1 km to around 4 km. These areas were not profoundly researched but it has found 539 species.

What about conservation matter?

To protect the park’s fauna and flora, the local rangers have coordinated with part-time employees to strictly patrol the forest in order to prevent poaching of forestry and sea products. The park’s management board, in coordination with relevant agencies, organised training courses to raise local residents’ awareness about the protection of forestry and maritime resources and inserted environmental protection into the curriculum of local schools. 

The board has also allocated 13 hectares of forests to local households for care and re-forested 50 other hectares on the largest island of Ba Mun. It recently released more than 100 long-tailed monkeys, which were seized from smugglers by the provincial rangers, into forests. 

Aiming at exploiting the potential and strength of Bai Tu Long, many tourism experts said that Quang Ninh Province needs to encourage investment into building high-end tourist areas that have a suitable scale and harmonious architecture with the environment and the landscape of islands.

Over the past few years, Quang Ninh Province has attached importance to building Bai Tu Long National Park to be an attractive eco-tourism site to both domestic and foreign tourists. Now, it is time to refresh your self by coming to the park and you will be certainly impressed as enjoying its beautiful scenery, smooth white sands, pure blue water, and biological diversity...

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