Halong Bay is bordered on the south and
southeast by the Gulf of Tonkin, on the north by the
China Sea and on the west
and southwest by Cát Bà Island. The bay has a 120
kilometer long coastline and is approximately 1,553 square kilometers in size.
The bay consists of dense clusters of 1,969 limestone monolithic islands, each topped with
thick jungle vegetation, which rise spectacularly from the sea
Ha Long Bay
According to local legend, long ago when the Vietnamese were fighting Chinese invaders, the Gods sent a family of dragons to help defend the land. This family of dragons began spitting out jewels and jade, which transformed into the thousands of islands and islets dotting the bay, linking together to form a great wall blocking the invaders. With the help of this magical intervention the people defended their land and formed what later became the country of Vietnam. After that, the dragons became interested in more peaceful endeavors and decided to stay to live here. The place where the Mother Dragon flew down was named Hạ Long (Ha: descending, Long: dragon), the place where the dragon children attended to their mother was called Bái Tử Long (Bái: attend to, Tử: children, Long: dragon), and the place where the dragon children wriggled their tails playfully was called Bạch Long Vỹ (Bạch: white - the color of the foam from the wriggling tails, Long: dragon, Vỹ: tail).
-Halong Bay is bordered on the south and southeast by the Gulf of Tonkin, on the north by the China Sea and on the west and southwest by Cát Bà Island. The bay has a 120 kilometer long coastline and is approximately 1,553 square kilometers in size. The bay consists of dense clusters of 1,969 limestone monolithic islands, each topped with thick jungle vegetation, which rise spectacularly from the sea.
The Bay is host to two ecosystems: a tropical, moist, evergreen rainforest ecosystem and a marine & coastal ecosystem.
The islands are home to many birds and animals including kites, bantams, monkeys, and iguanas.
In 1994 Halong Bay was listed as a “World's Natural Heritage” by UNESCO for its outstanding universal aesthetics value. The area designated by UNESCO includes 434 square kilometers with 775 islets.
-Scientists say the bay has experienced at least 500 million years in various geological states: orogeny, marine transgression and marine regression. During the Ordovician and Silurian periods (500-410 million years ago), the bay was deep sea. During the Carboniferous and Permian periods (340-250 million years ago), it was at shallow sea level.
Several of the islands are hollow and contain small to very large caves. Sung Sot or “Surprise Cave” was discovered by the French in 1901. It is one of the largest grottos in Halong Bay. Its three chambers contain numerous stalactites and stalagmites creating an eerie and enchanting environment. We will visit the cave on the second day of our journey.
Some of the islands in the bay support floating fishing villages. The fishermen ply the shallow waters for more than 200 species of fish and 450 kinds of mollusks. The largest fishing village, Cua Van, is on our travel itinerary as well.
Many of the islands have acquired their names as a result of interpretation of their unusual shapes: such as Voi Islet (elephant), Ga Choi Islet (fighting cock), and Mai Nha Islet (roof), in total 989 of the islands have been given names.
Sung Sot Cave
This main attraction of the bay is a natural wonder, with an extensive cave system covering 10,000m2 and stretching 30m high at its peak. This chamber is difficult to do justice without seeing it with your own eyes. With stalagmites and stalactites of biblical scales, it’s no wonder that this limestone complex attracts so much attention.
Ti Top Island (Titov Island)
The highest point in Ha Long bay, this exotic island is teeming with life and full of wonder. Once visited by president Ho Chi Minh with Soviet astronaut German Titov, this island was duly named after the second human to enter space. Trek the 427 stone steps to the top of the island and treat yourself to the 360-degree view point. When you make it back down, relax on the island’s sandy beach where you can sunbathe or swim in the shallows.
Cua Van Fishing Village
This famous cultural phenomenon is the biggest of the four fishing villages with an estimated population of 750 people. Interact with the friendly communities whose livelihoods depend on these waters, and learn to fish in their traditional style. This village is one of a kind, with a floating primary school teaching children who learn to swim before they can walk!
Located in the isolated Tung Sau zone, this floating pearl farm is an incredible sight to bare witness to. Observe the handicraft pearl-growing techniques that are based on traditional Vietnamese methods using technology that derives from ancient Japan. This is a process that most people never get the chance to see, so it is certainly a life experience worth discovering.
Luon Cave is a grand geographical feature that much likes most of the bay, formed by a slow erosion process over millions of years. This particular cave is situated on Bo Hon Island 14km south of Bai Chay beach and is a modest 60 meters across. Driven by lunar gravitational forces, the height of this cave ranges from 2.5 to 4 meters depending on the tide. Regardless, access is only possible by a small boat or kayak and upon passing through the cave you reach a secluded lake surrounded by limestone mountains.
Ba Ham Lake
This lake is a system of three flooded depressions that are accessible via a limestone cave. Enclosed by a circular chain of tropical limestone mountains, this lake is surrounded by rich plant life whilst providing a perfect habitat for a variety of marine creatures. This otherworldly landscape is a standout feature that has miraculously avoided overcrowding. Once you enter through the cave opening, all the arbitrary troubles of the outside world seem to disappear.
Swimming- If the hot summer days have taken their toll and you are keen fora dip to cool down, you l have no trouble finding a spot for are laxing swim during your cruise of Ha Long Bay. Swim straight from the boat or wait until we visit one of the many hundreds of beaches. Many of the islands have their own beaches that areideal for relaxing, sunbathing, swimming and dining. Jellyfisharen’t uncommon so it is advised to swim from one of thebeaches as the immediate coasts are often fitted with safetynets to keep the stingers out. This is important information tobare in mind at all times as these jellyfish can give out lifethreatening stings. There are also many freshwater areas to swim however many of these are privately owned and requirearranging in advance.
Our morning tai chi class is a favorite amongst our guests.Originating in ancient China, tai chi is an effective exercise forthe health of one’s mind, body and soul. This martial art isperfect for beginners and is fast gaining popularity. The low-impact exercise doubles as complementary therapy, reducingphysical stress on the joints and tissues of the body. As amindful form of exercise, when performing tai chi in anenvironment as beautiful as ha long bay, the benefits are evengreater.
How often do you get the chance to float through a UNESCOWorld Heritage site on your own kayak? Kayaking is the bestway to see the island complex close up and is becoming anincreasingly popular activity not only throughout the bay butSouth East Asia in general. Glide through the caves, exploresmall islands and access places inaccessible on the ship or byfoot.
Squid fishing at night
Try your hand at squid fishing and to see how you’d fare in theday of a local. This ancient practice was vital in supporting localfishing communities for centuries on the waters of Ha Long Bay.With the help and knowledge of our staff, relax for some slowevening entertainment. Squid fishing is most successful aftersunset as you can lure the squid towards your bait by using alight provided by Indochina Sails. Reel in your catch and if youdo it in time, the on-board kitchen team can whip you up asquid-based treat.
Cooking class and Food Carving
Let your inner Jamie Oliver take over in our on-board cookingclasses with your Indochina Sails’ head chef. All food is providedso you get plenty of time to practice making some of Vietnam’smost iconic dishes. Marvel as our chef demonstrates food-carving skills that are as culinary influential as any national dish.Food carving is particularly fun to witness and photographs of this make for lasting memories.
Treat yourself to the Indochina Sails on-board spa service. After a long day of relaxing, swimming and dining, what better way tospend an evening than being pampered by a professional southeast Asian masseuse, Wind down in the treatment room amid the haze of incense and ambient music as you gently sway tothe rhythm of the bay. From full-body massages to five-minutemanicures, our experienced spa team will serve your everyneed.
Get your evening off to the right start. All drinks buy one get onefree except from bottled wines.
Indochina Sails is the name and relaxation is the game. Fromthe sundeck to the many beaches you can visit, there is alwaystime to wind down, sit back, and just take it all in for a moment.Our sundeck offers the perfect space for this – with sun chairsand a swimming pool you are spoilt for choice both day andnight. Titov beach is another favorite spot for guests to slowdown and take a deep breath. Here you can feel the wind inyour hair and the sand between your toes. Upon re-boarding theship, take a seat in the dining area and let us spoil you whetherits breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Evening activities include an assortment of board games andfilm entertainment. Squid fishing, spa services and cookingclasses are also available evening activities that are fun for allages either side of dinner.