General Information About Ha Long Bay
Last time we counted, UNESCO had picked out 830 World Heritage sites around the world, chosen for their cultural and historical importance, and also for their geological uniqueness. Ha Long Bay offers a little of all three.
It's not the cliffs themselves that make Ha Long Bay unique, but rather their sheer number. A huge bay, dotted with nearly 2,000 mostly uninhabited limestone cliffs, the breathtaking scenery is very similar to that of the Andaman coast of Thailand, Vang Vieng in Laos and Guilin in China.
Created over millions of years, tectonic forces slowly thrust the limestone above the water-line. During this process waves lapping against the stone carved out a number of vast, striking caverns, as well as other geologically interesting formations, such as tunnel caves and uniquely shaped massifs.
Over the ages, Vietnamese fishermen with too much time on their hands began to see shapes in the stone massifs atop many of the islands, and named the islands accordingly - Turtle Island, Human Head Island, Chicken Island and so on.
In what constitutes one of the most fascinating cultural features of the area, some of these fisherman still live on the bay today -- on floating fishing villages, where houses are set atop barges year round, the inhabitants catching and cultivating fish throughout.
The Legend of Ha Long Bay
Although the name Halong Bay has made it to the world thanks to its world heritage title and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, not many people know about the mystery beneath that name. In ancient Vietnamese, Halong literally means “descending dragon” and it is originated from a legend of this ancient land.
The legend says that during the old time when the country was newly formed, Vietnamese had to fight against fierce invaders coming from the North through the sea. Feeling sorry for the country, The Jade Emperor sent the Mother Dragon and her children descending on earth to help ancient Vietnamese people defend the country.
While the mighty enemies were attacking the main land, The Mother Dragon and her children suddenly appeared and incinerated the enemies with their divine fire and giant emeralds. The emeralds from the dragon’s mouth were scattered around the battlefield on the sea and formed an invincible defensive wall that left enemy battleship fleet sinking. Thanks to the dragons, the Northern invaders were finally swept away and the peace finally came back the South East Asian country once again. After thousands of years, the wall of emerald turned into island and islets of different sizes and shapes.
After the battle, The Mother Dragon and her children didn’t come back to the heaven, but stayed in the mortal world and turned into human form and help people planting, cropping, raising cattle, reclaiming, and expanding the country.
To remember the help of Mother Dragon and her children, the people live there from generation to generation name the bay where the Mother Dragon descended “Ha Long or Halong” and the bay where her children descended “Bai Tu Long”, which means “Thanks to the Dragon’s children”. This legend is also a part of the general belief that Vietnamese people's has Dragon's origins.
What To Do At Night In Ha Long Bay?
When not cruising Halong Bay, it can be a romantic idea to just enjoy the evening by spending time at the waterfront venues.
The choice of nightlife in Halong Bay is limited but there are a few interesting places to visit. In such a gorgeous setting it's really not hard to spend a night to remember for a long time.
Blue Note Bar
A well-known bar which also has Karaoke, they have a good list of drinks and stay open until very late.
Location: At Ward 1, Cat Ba Island.
Tel: +84 (031) 888967
Flightless Bird Cafe
Flightless Bird Cafe is another popular place among travelers. Open from 18:30 onwards choose a seat on the second-floor balcony. It will be hard to take your eyes off the beautiful harbour view. This is a good place to get information about Halong Bay as well as to exchange books.
Location: On the main street of Cat Ba Island.
Tel: +84 031) 888517
Noble House is a hotel with an outstanding restaurant on the first floor. There is a very nice bar on the second floor which also has a pool table and board games.
Location: Centre of Cat Ba Island, next to the post office, across from the pier.
Tel: +84 (031) 888363