Postcard of the Week: Ha Long Bay
Halong Bay is off the north-east coast of Vietnam and is made up of 1,960–2,000 limestone islets, and it’s name in Sino-Vietnamese means “descending dragon”, due to its appearance: the dramatic rock formations rise out from the water and then drop steeply back down, producing a dramatic scene. According to the Lonely Planet, legend has it that the islands of Halong Bay were created by a great dragon that lived in the mountains. As it charged towards the coast, its flailing tail gouged out valleys and crevasses. When it finally plunged into the sea, the area filled with water, leaving only the pinnacles visible.
One way to explore the bay is to take a cruise aboard a “Junk”, an ancient Chinese sailing boat (see right), which will take you to some of the most impressive caves and grottoes in the bay, and to where you can go kayaking, cycling, etc. The easiest thing is to find one of these tours in agencies or hostels in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. A cheaper tour will cost around $50 for a few nights tour on a junk, but there are of course more luxurious tours available, for example here.
I was lucky enough to stay overnight in Halong Bay on a junk boat in December – we had an amazing time.