Halong bay Vietnam – The truly wonder of the world

Halong bay Vietnam (Bay of decending dragons or landing dragons) is a famous bay on the west coast of the Ton kin gulf that locates in the North East Coast of Vietnam. It is including the sea island of Halong City, Cam Pha City and part of Van Island District, Quang Ninh province.

Halong bay Vietnam
Maps of Bai tu long bay – Halong bay and Lan ha bay

It is the center of a large area that is more or less similar in terms of geology, geomorphology, landscape, climate and culture. With Bai Tu Long Bay to the northeast and the Cat Ba Islands to the southwest. Halong Bay covers an area of about 1,553 km² including 1,969 large and small islands. Most of which are limestone islands, of which the core of the Tonkin Gulf has an area of 335 km² with a density of 775 islands. The geological history of the limestone karst of the Gulf of Tonkin has been around 500 million years with very different geologic circumstances. And full karst evolution over the past 20 million years with a combination of thick limestone, hot and humid climates and a slow overgrowth of the tectonic process.

bai tu long bay
Halong bay sails in the long time ago

The results of research, archaeological and cultural studies show that the presence of prehistoric inhabitants in the Halong Bay region from early on. It has created successive ancient cultural forms including Soi Mo culture from 18,000 to 7,000 BC, Cai Beo culture in 7,000-5,000 BC and culture of Ha Long today about 3,500-5,000 years.

The process of establishing and maintaining traditions of Vietnamese nation, throughout history, also affirmed the position of nature and cultural position of Halong Bay through the place names associated with the famous. Up to now, such as Bai Tho Mountain, Dau Go Cave, Bai Chay Beach.

Halong bay Vietnam
Discover Halong bay on bamboo boat

Currently, Halong bay Vietnam is a dynamic development area cause of the existing conditions. And more of advantages such as great potential in tourism, scientific research, aquaculture, fishing, navigation with North East Vietnam in particular and northern Vietnam in general.

In 1994, the core area of Halong bay Vietnam was recognized by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage with aesthetic value, and was re-recognized for the second time with exceptional global geo-geological value in 2000. Along with Nha Trang Bay and Lang Co Bay of Vietnam, Halong Bay is one of 29 bays rated by the World’s most beautiful bays club and officially recognized in July 2003.

Beauty of Halong bay today

Halong Bay along with Cat Ba Island formed one of the first 21 national tourist sites in Vietnam. In 2015, the Department of Cultural Heritage announced the number of visitors to Halong Bay is over 2.5 million international visitors.

Legend of Halong bay Vietnam

Halong bay Vietnam was built in the past due to the geological constructions. However, in the mind of the Vietnamese from prehistoric times with folk imagery and conception of the origin of the Fairy Dragon. Some legends is said that when the new Viet Nam was invaded by the foreign invaders. The Emperor sent the Dragon Mother with a flock of Dragons to the lower world to help the Vietnamese fight the enemy. The boat from the sea rushing to the shore just at the Dragon to the world, the Dragon immediately sprayed the fire to burn the enemy boat. Part of the Chau Ngoc stone wall made a horrendous to make the enemy boat crashed to shatter, blocking the progress of the foreign.

Amazing-Sung sot cave is highlight of Halong bay, big value of geology

After the invasion, see the peaceful earth, the trees are good, the people here hard work to help each other, Dragon Mother and Baby Dragon do not return to heaven but stay in the world, where the battle to protect the Dai Viet people forever. Mother landed in Halong; where the child drops down is Bai Tu Long and where the flock of white dragon is Bach Long Vi.

Other legends say that when the country has foreign invaders, a dragon flew along the river down to the sea and landed in the northeastern coastal area, making it a stepping stone. The dragon-landed shelter for the country is called Halong Bay.

Halong bay weather and environment  

Halong bay Vietnam, natural wonders of the world. is an attractive destination for millions of visitors each year. However, it is located in the North of Vietnam, where there is a rich variety of weather in the year, so to really have a full trip, we need to understand the most appropriate time to visit Halong,
Halong Bay is in North Eastern Vietnam. The coast stretches a vast 120km from Yen Hung to Van Don. It has a tropical climate with two distinct seasons: a hot and humid summer and a cold and drier winter. Halong Bay’s average temperature is from 15°C- 25°C. Follow the link for a current weather forecast if planning a visit to Ha Long Bay, as the island experiences annual rainfall from between 2 meters and 2.2 meters, so choose the best time to go Halong bay.


The summer months in Halong bay (June to August), are generally much wetter, due to the tropical rainstorms. Average temperatures range between lows of 17°C to highs of 32°C. In general August is the hottest time of the year to visit, however also the wettest. Rainfall has been recorded at approximately 265 millimetres, with the average rain or drizzle falling on 14 days of the month. Sunshine throughout these months range between 8-9 hours per day. Night time temperatures rarely drop below 25°C, providing a very warm evening.
During the winter months (November-February), HaLong bay‘s climate tends to be a lot drier and cooler, making it the ‘low season’ to visit for domestic tourist but high season for Foreigner. Temperatures range from lows of 0°C to highs of 24°C. There is usually around 5 to 8 hours of sunshine per day, with November being the sunniest month. During these months the humidity is approximately 83% and the average rainfall is 23mm, with the wettest month being January. In general, these months usually present fog, and tend to have low visibility. (Halong bay weather ).

With nice weather, kayaking is one of most excited activity in Halong bay, closely touching to nature

Halong Bay is an island with a distinctly different climate: hot and humid summer with a temperature of about 27-29 ° C and cold winters with a temperature of 16-18 ° C, moving in the range of 15-25 ° C. Rainfall in Halong Bay is about 2,000mm-2,200mm although there are documents detailing the rainfall is 1.680mm with over 300mm in the hottest season of the year (from June to August). And less than 30 mm in the dry season of the year (from December to February the following year).

Halong bay, one of the top detinations for sunset capture in Asia as CNN

The tide system in Halong bay Vietnam is characterized by a high tide of about 3.5-4m / day. Salinity in seawater in the Gulf of Tonkin ranges from 31 to 34.5MT in the dry season, but in the rainy season this level may be lower. The sea level in the Gulf of Tonkin is quite shallow, with a depth of only 6m to 10m and the islands do not retain surface water.

2. How Halong bay weather impacts to the cruise trip?
every years, in Vietnam, there are around 12 storms and thunder, almost happen from July to November. The storm and thunders will cause the cruise trip to be cancelled for safety of tourist.
Halong bay management will report the weather forecast by 7.00AM, 11.00AM, 3.00PM. For the morning of the Halong trip from Hanoi, the last news about weather would be announced by 11.00AM, that time, the tourist almost reach Halong bay. A lot of cases, the cruise trips were cancelled just before tourist arriving. So they just got the lunch then get back Hanoi, spend one day just to see Halong pier then get back Hanoi again, it is very bad luck.

Beside storm and thunder, the seasonal winds from the North down to the South also a reason cause the cruise trips to be cancelled. It is almost happened from middle of October to December when the weather change from autumm to winter in North of Vietnam. Some time, tourist go to Halong city at noon and see that, the weather is nice with light wind, blue sky, sunshine…but why the cruise also be cancelled, so angry, is’nt it? But tourist will do not know that, a seasonal wind is on the way coming to Tonkin gulf in the evening, it is very dangerous if all cruises sails out to stay in the bay at night. So please keep calm to listen the explaination from tour guide once the above case happen, it is very bad luck but also is a feature of Halong bay cruise trip, nobody want this happen.

For cancelled trips by weather, almost cruise companies will refund almost money to clients. They usually chage the lunch and a part of money amount if cruise could travel for a day tour then go back pier in afternoon and get back Hanoi. It is depend on policy of per company also. Please check it up before you join the trip.

The name of Halong bay Vietnamthrough historical periods

Dragon head on a tourist boat at the bay, simulating Halong (landing dragon)

The name of Halong has changed over many periods of history; the northern part of this area is called Luc Chau, Luc Hai. During the Ly, Tran, Le Bay brought names Hoa Phong, Hai Dong, An Bang, Van Don, Ngoc Son or Luc Thuy.  The name of Halong (dragon landing) appears in some bibliographies and navigational charts of the French since the late 19th century.

Halong bay
The classic sails in the past

In the French-language News, Hai Phong published an article on the occurrence of dragon-like creatures in the area of present-day Halong Bay with the Dragon title appearing on Halong bay Vietnam. When the French lieutenant, the captain of Avalence and sailors encountered a pair of giant sea serpents three times (in 1898, 1900, and 1902). Perhaps Europeans associate this animal as Asian dragon, the legendary species is worshiped in the culture of Vietnam in particular and cultures of Asian countries in general. In addition to Vietnamese legends about the Mother Dragon and the Baby Dragon landing on the Northeast Island Bay. The appearance of exotic animals as dragons in reality may have become the reason for the sea. Quang Ninh is known by the French as the name of Halong bay Vietnam from it and popular to this day

Landscape

The heritage site of Halong bay Vietnam is internationally recognized (core zone) with an area of 434 km², as a triangle with three peaks namely Dau Go Island (west), Ba Ham Lake (south) and Cong Tay (east), including 775 islands with many caves and beaches. The adjacent area (the buffer zone), a national landscape vestige has been classified by the Ministry of Culture and Information of Vietnam since 1962.

lan ha bay
A typical water cave, so amazing do discover

Halong topography is the island, the mountain interlaced between the seas, is the salty land. Spotted macaques and standing limestone islands create beautiful contrasts, harmonious combination, and lively elements: stone, water and sky

Sea and Island

The islands in Halong bay Vietnam come in two forms: limestone islands and shale islands, concentrated in two main areas: southeast of Bai Tu Long Bay and south west of Ha Long Bay. According to the statistics of Halong bay Vietnam Management Board, out of 1,969 islands of Halong Bay, there are 1,921 islands with many islands of about 200m high. This is the oldest image of geologic terrain dating from 250-280 million years ago, as a result of the elevated, downhill movement from the continent to the low seas. The process of carving worn-out weathering almost completely creates a unique Halong Bay, with thousands of rocky islands in various shapes appearing in the sea, in an area without the Gulf of Tonkin.

Halong bay Vietnam
Halong bay Vietnam has some beautiful beaches as Bai chay, Soi sim, Titov…

The spectacular rocky landscape and many beautiful caves are the center of Halong Bay Natural Heritage, including most of Halong Bay (core zone), part of Bai Tu Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay belongs to Cat Ba islands (buffer zone).

The islands in Halong bay Vietnam have their own shapes, unlike any island in Vietnam’s coast and no island-like island. There are places where the audience gathered together to look over each other, but there is also a vertical stand horizontal alternating, forming a line of tens of kilometers as a wall.

Halong bay
Thousand of islands, islets are specialty of Dragons land

It is a cosmic world hidden in legendary stone formations. Island is the face of someone who is heading to the land (Head of People); The island is like a dragon flying over the water (Dragon Island); The island is like an old man sitting fishing (La Vong); The far away are two brown sails that are turning the waves to the sea (Canh Buom); back to the soup as a raspberry (Mam Xoi); Then the two chickens are cuddling each other on the water wave (Trong Mai); standing in the middle of the sea is a giant incense burner as a sacrifice for heaven and earth (Lu Huong island); Another island is like the monk standing in the middle of the bay with hands full of Buddha (Ong Su); The roundabout is about 40m high and looks like a chopsticks in front of the nature (Hon Dua), but from the other direction, like the royal court, the hat and wings, so the fishermen also called Hon Ong.

Biodiversity

Halong bay Vietnam is an ideal place with two typical ecosystems: “tropical rain forest ecosystems” and “marine and coastal ecosystems.”

Tropical rainforest ecosystems in Halong bay Vietnam are very rich with the total of 1,000 plant species living on the islands include in mangroves, plant species on the sandy shore of the island, species growing on slopes and cliffs, mountain peaks or cave dwellers. Researchers from the World Conservation Union discovered 7 endemic species in Halong Bay. These species are adapted to grow in the limestone islands of Halong Bay which are not found anywhere in the world. Other documents extend the list of endemic plants in Halong up to 14 species that were discovered by the French and in association with previous names such as wave’s rafts in Halong, exotic mountains in Halong, orchids in Halong bay.

The list of other endemic plants in Halong bay Vietnam is likely to be further enhanced, as there is not yet a truly complete and comprehensive research on all the islands in the area. Marine and coastal ecosystems

The island is dominated by limestone cliffs and green vegetation representing the marine and coastal ecosystems of Halong bay Vietnam.

The marine and coastal ecosystems of Halong Bay include in “wetland ecosystems” and “marine ecosystems” with specific features.

Wetland ecosystems

Tidal and mangrove ecosystems in the bay include in 20 species of mangrove plants. It has 169 species of silkworms, 91 species of seaweed, 200 species of birds, 10 species of reptiles and 6 other species to grow in Halong Bay.

Bottom ecosystem and coral reef are concentrated in Hang Trai, Cong Do, Van Giai with 232 species of coral, 81 species of abdominal legs, 130 bivalves, 55 species of silkworms, 57 species of crabs were found.

Ecological caves are typical and rare places in Halong Bay. In particular, Tung Ngon is home to 65 species of coral, 40 species of bottom animals, 18 species of seaweed. There are also 4 species of rare animals listed in the Red Book of Vietnam.

Bottom ecosystem: This is an ecological form of sea grass communities with 5 species, 140 species of seaweed, 3 species of silkworm, 29 species of mollusk, 9 species of crustaceans. Species living in the tidal area are bivalves and marine worms with high nutritional value such as peanut worms, sea cucumbers, oysters and clams.

Marine ecosystem:

Phytoplankton: There are 185 species in Halong Bay.

Zooplankton: There are 140 species of zooplankton in Halong Bay-Cat Ba Island.

Benthic fauna: Preliminary statistics show that there are 500 benthic species in Halong area, of which 300 species of mollusk, 200 species of silkworm, 13 species of gnat.

Zooplankton: 326 zooplankton species have been distributed in Halong Bay.

So far preliminary assessment of flora in Halong Bay has about 347 species, 232 genera and 95 families which are listed as endangered. Otherwise, there are 95 species of medicinal plants, 37 species of ornamental plants, 13 species of fruit trees and 10 groups of different usages.

The islands in Halong Bay have a variety of mollusk’s, especially those inhabiting rocky niches, and up to 60 species. Seafood in Halong is exploited and cultivated including in abalone, sea gull, shrimp, fish, squid (squid, cuttlefish, and squid), octopus, blood cockle.

Archaeological and historical evidence

In 1937, Vu Xuan Tao, a worker of glass stove, while digging sand to make glass materials, have accidentally discovered a stone axe on Ngoc Vung Island. This discovery caused a stir among French archeologists at the time, initially determining that Halong Bay is not only a natural wonder but also a cradle of prehistoric people.

Researching by Swedish archaeologists Andresen and French Colane sisters later showed that stone tools, pottery, and stone and bone jewelry. They were discovered and collected in Halong is a new post-rock era. Archaeological sites in Halong Bay were originally classified by the French scientists as named for Ngoc Vung Island.

The name of the Rock Islands, Caves in Halong bay Vietnam

Halong Bay has nearly 2,000 islands, in particular the area of the Ministry of Culture – Information classified as a national monument. There are 980 islands which recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Site

The name of the island in Halong Bay has long been known and called by the fishermen. Many island names have an associated history

According to cultural researcher Tong Khac Hai, the islands in Ha Long Bay have three characteristics as derived from the pure Vietnamese, the name derived from the natural conditions and daily life and the name has historical and cultural significance.

Tourist visit a local floating house

On the name of the islands Vietnamese, these locations clearly show the region of Ha Long Bay in particular, Quang Ninh in general. If in the South there are islands, islets, canals, bays … Ha Long has alcohols, lakes … such as Con Be, Con Chay, Cac Be, Ang Mo, Cay Vong.

Notably there are ancient names such as “Cai” (the) in the gate … Most popular among the islands in Ha Long Bay is named after the iconography, long established by the original owners of Ha Long Bay. For example, Con Coc Island, Hon Be Island, Yen Ngu Islet, Ga Choi Island, Be Hung Island, Dinh Huong Island, Hon Dua Island, Crescent Island, Hon Non Islet, Cai Tai Islet, Head Man, Mr But, La Vong, Evil Eye… There are islands named after the plants that may be characteristic of the ecology of the island, such as Cay Vong, Cay Tao, Dau Be, Hon Roi…

The islands of historical significance are islands associated with famous historical events. Dau Go Cave is associated with Tran Hung Dao hidden in wood before the Bach Dang River in 1288.

Bai Tho Mountain is associated with the poems of King Le Thanh Tong, Trinh Cuong Lord and some poets carved in the mountains.

Ti Top Island was associated with the story of Uncle Ho, taking the name of the SoViet space hero G.Titop in 1962

Titov island – the rare beach of Halong bay

The name of the islands wants to look like an interesting characteristic of the Halong Bay. This can be considered as a kind of intangible culture in the overall cultural values of Halong Bay and valuable in many aspects. Up to now, there are many islands in Halong Bay which have not been named or unclear meanings such as Hon Net, Vong Vieng…

to be continued…

Written by Tracy Nguyen

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