Vietnam - Wonderful Ha Long Bay

Do you remember Catherine Deneuve in "Indochine"? A breathtaking landscape. Countless islands and jagged-topped islets jutting out from the sea. Welcome to Ha Long Bay, which does well in its "wonder of the world" rank. A popular but unmissable destination.

Latest edition : 09 April 2018

1,969 islands and islets dot an area of 1,500 km² in the Gulf of Tonkin. If archaeologists refer us to the Paleozoic period, speaking of the formation of sediments and movements of the earth's crust to explain the formation of these shredded limestone sugar loaves, the popular legend is much more poetic.

And best suited to the magical ambience that emerges at the end of the day, when the excursion boats have returned to port.

A dragon, symbol of strength and spirituality, is said to have descended into the sea to domesticate the sea currents. As it struggled, its tail would have slashed the mountain ... It is in fact the French who would have named Ha Long Bay, the "descending dragon".

Regardless of the origin. Ha Long Bay is a must-see destination for foreign tourists but also Vietnamese themselves, so proud of this site on the UNESCO heritage list.

Many caves carve out these uninhabited islands, including the largest, Sung Sot, the cave of surprise, discovered by the French.

In the morning, in front of the island of Bô Hon, the surprise is a bit like the ring road at rush hour: the boats honk their horns, at times the air smells of diesel.

But when you climb to reach the entrance of the cave, you forget everything. Nothing prepares for the immensity of these rooms! Spotlights highlight certain formations of green, gold ...

You could almost forget the feverish hustle and bustle that reigns below in the bay.

As all the excursions are carefully planned, you shouldn't linger too long: the boat waits to set sail for another island on the tour. Admittedly, Ti Top Island, like the other islets featured in the many boats circuit, has a high tourist concentration.

But it's worth the stop for the superb 360 ° view that awaits those who have managed to climb the 400 or so steps to its summit.

On the way back, a small sandy beach invites you to swim. Surfing while contemplating the peaks at sunset is still magical (even if the water may not be flawlessly clean ...)

In the evening, many boats return to the port. On the junks that anchor in the bay (in well-defined places) the guests enjoy a massage session, a small cooking class,

before retiring to the luxury of the cabins.

The squid fishing offered from the back of the boat is rarely successful ... In the morning, when calm still reigns in the bay, a little initiation to tai chi gently prepares you for the new day.

Opting for a short cruise with one night on board a junk is the best option to enjoy this sublime landscape. In order to preserve this exceptional natural heritage and its ecological diversity, strict regulations have been put in place. Thus only four (small) routes are open to boats.

Hence this concentration of tourists criticized by many visitors. But aren't they, too, one of those millions of travelers eager to contemplate this spectacle of nature?

And when the sun sets over the bay and calm sets in, the atmosphere simply becomes magical.


Travel to Viet Nam

From November to the end of April is the best season to visit the country which is open to tourism. It takes at least two weeks to discover the north (Hanoi, Ha Long Bay), the center and the south (Ho Chi Minh City).

The tour operator Definition Asia offers à la carte tours.