- Halong Bay - unique UNESCO World Heritage landscape
- Halong City - Sights of a big city in transition
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam, which borders the South China Sea to the east, has several important cruise destinations. The outstanding attraction of the country is undoubtedly Halong Bay. Cruise ships regularly call at the region, which has been under the protection of UNESCO World Heritage since 1994.
Halong Bay rock formations
The ships cross the entire bay and lie in the roadstead in front of the provincial capital, Halong City. Due to its location, the city with around 270.000 inhabitants is an ideal starting point for visits to the Vietnamese metropolis of Hanoi and for boat trips to Halong Bay. Their unparalleled natural beauty is recommended for a tour with one of the more than 300 available tourist boats.
Cruise ship Oceania Nautica in front of Halong City
Halong Bay - unique UNESCO World Heritage landscape
The often mist-shrouded bay in northern Vietnam is a great natural experience. It covers an area of 1.553 square kilometers. The number of islands is put at 1.969. These are limestone and slate rocks of different sizes. Under UNESCO protection are 434 square kilometers of the bay with a total of 775 islands.
Most of them are overgrown with bushes and trees. Dense jungle landscapes thrive on the larger islands. Geologists estimate the age of the islands to be 250 to 280 million years. Some have remarkable and well-developed caves. Almost all of the karst islands are uninhabited.
Thien Cung Cave
The boat tours arranged by the cruise lines follow a circuit through the awe-inspiring island world. The junks pass small and large islands, sometimes just rock needles sticking out of the water. The course can include a visit to the remarkable Thien Cung Cave on Dau Go Island. The "Heavenly Palace", located 20 meters below sea level, has beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations. The cave was discovered by chance in 1992 when a fisherman sought refuge from a typhoon and followed a monkey into the previously undiscovered cave.
The stalactite formations of the 3.000 square meter cave have names such as "lion, tiger, elephant and cobra". An optimally designed path leads through the cave. There is no shortage of effective light installations. To visit the cave, the junks dock at a safe, massive jetty. However, a total of more than 120 steps must be overcome.
Light installations in the Thien Cung cave
Individual tourists like to see more on private tours through Halong Bay than the organized travelers on the cruise ships. In view of the short duration of the stay, an organized boat trip through the island world is nevertheless highly recommended for cruise tourists.
Halong City - Sights of a big city in transition
Halong City has long been the center of Vietnamese coal mining. After the relocation of coal mining to neighboring areas, a structural change began. The result is a city that is heavily influenced by tourism and has a variety of tourist facilities. Nevertheless, fishing, trade, industry and commerce are still practiced in Halong City's Hòn Gai district. The city also has one of the largest trading ports in Vietnam.
The diverse tourist facilities are located in the opposite western district of Bãi Cháy. Its offers are primarily aimed at Vietnamese and Chinese families.
All in all, Halong City is barely noticed by travel guides. Nevertheless, there is a lot to discover there that is worth seeing.
Sights in the Hòn Gai district
Quang Ninh Provincial Museum
The museum, library and exhibition complex, located in an upscale new building district, measures around 24.000 square meters. Spanish star architect Salvador Perez Arroyo was responsible for planning the three-block structure. The dark outer front of the building interprets the subject of coal. It is the typical mineral of the Quang Ninh province. A whale skeleton and full-size sailing boats await the visitor on the ground floor of the museum. The individual departments on the three floors above present in-depth explanations of Halong Bay, the history of the region and the Republic of Vietnam as well as the economic achievements since independence and exhibits on coal mining. In addition, the coexistence of cultures, Buddhism and the revolutionary and later President Ho Chi Minh are honored.
Long Tien Pagoda
Long Tien Pagoda is the largest pagoda in the city. Located in the heart of Halong City, it is a must-see place for both Buddhists and tourists. It was built in 1941 at the foot of the Bai Tho Hill in the architectural style of the Nguyen Dynasty. The main altar is, how could it be otherwise, dedicated to the god Buddha.
Fishing port and fishmonger
A large number of small and very small fishing boats are within sight of Vincom Plaza in the center of Halong City during the day. In the immediate vicinity, traders offer the catch of the day. It is unimaginable what quantities of animals are offered to potential buyers alive in plastic tubs.
Ha Long Market
It is a multi-storey market hall in the city center. There are mainly elementary everyday goods waiting for buyers. The hall is not necessarily a sight. Visitors interested in the life of the simple Vietnamese should visit the spacious, multi-storey market hall.
Bãi Cháy suspension bridge
The imposing Bãi Cháy cable-stayed suspension bridge, which is more than 1.100 meters long, spans the connection between Halong Bay and Cua Luc Bay. At night, thousands of LED lights bathe the bridge in bright colors.
Sun Wheel Ferris Wheel
According to the operator, the Sun Wheel is said to be the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. The wheel is actually an impressive diameter; However, it can only be considered the tallest Ferris wheel in the world because it was built on the Ba Deo hill. 64 gondolas each carry six passengers. At an average speed of 15 to 20 minutes, this makes around 1.200 passengers an hour. A wax museum, the Museum of Waxwork, is also maintained in the building.
Ferris wheel and cable car
The sights in the Bãi Cháy district
Halong City's Bãi Cháy district is a tourist retort town. The hotels, restaurants and bars were created mainly for Vietnamese and Chinese guests. The main attraction of the district is the Sun World Halong amusement park with roller coasters, cable car, artificial beach and extremely well-tended gardens. The flower arrangements of azaleas, hibiscuses and orchids are really worth seeing.
A cable car runs from the park to the other side of the bay. The cable car ride ends at the height of the ferris wheel. The return ticket for the train costs around 10 US dollars.
Update March 2021