Halong Bay in Pictures: Day 1
Halong Bay, Vietnam
Halong Bay in northern Vietnam is an amazing area comprised of around 1,600 islands and islets with limestone pillars rising right out of the water. Located in the Gulf of Tonkin within Quang Ninh Province, it’s on the UNESCO World Heritage Site for both its natural beauty as well as extensive marine life. It possesses a tremendous diversity of caves and other landforms created by the unusual geomorphological process of marine invaded tower karsts. The marine invasion has expedited the erosion of the karsts with lateral undercutting that can be seen by the main notch cut into the entire rocky coastline and is actually a feature on coastal limestone cliffs worldwide, but it’s exceptionally developed at Ha Long Bay. Turquoise lakes within the larger limestone islands are another distinctive feature and most of the islands are uninhabited and relatively unaffected by human influence.
It is an absolutely beautiful landscape, similar to what I experienced in southern Thailand, but just more dense and on a much grander scale. Ha Long Bay has also become a very tightly regulated hot-spot for tourism (I can’t stress “tightly regulated” enough – more to come later…) that’s only a four hour drive from Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi. In additional to large cargo ships dwarfing the small local fishing boats, a hundred or so white tourist-carrying junkboats, styled after Chinese fishing vessels, scatter the otherwise tranquil waters; All plying for position along the government-determined route.
We took a 3-day, 2-night tour with Paloma Cruises where we apparently got real lucky with the weather. It turned out to be a pretty awesome couple of days at the end of the three week trip…