One of the most beautiful attractions in Vietnam and the whole world would have to be the picturesque Halong Bay, is situated on the north eastern side of Hanoi. Because of its natural beauty and appeal it has been of the most famous and defining landmarks of Vietnam.

The Bay has thousands of small islands which make it great for an island hopping activity. You can enjoy watching the lush islands set against the emerald waters of the bay while riding one of the small fishing boats which can be rented from the local folks.

The bay of course is the main attraction in the area, but there are many other things to see and do in the there aside from enjoying the view.

First off is visiting the small fishing village of Vong Vieng. You may want to think about spending a night here because there are great activities if the weather permits. There are communal bonfires where you can interact with the locals and listen to performances of folk songs and stories. You can also participate in other activities like making garlands and lanterns and then dropping them in the bay’s waters for good luck. Should you come here during the Ha Long Tourism Festival, you can enjoy watching the participants in boating and boat handling, swimming and even culinary competitions.

There are also various caves in the area which are worth a visit.

For one there is the Cavern of Wonders or Hang Dau Go, which boasts of beautiful lime karst formations.  Walking in the seemingly endless tunnel makes for a great morning walk. Another cave is the Tien Ong Cave, which is a massive one thousand square metres in size. One of the best things about this cave is that accordingly there have been stone artefacts found inside the cave which dates back to 2000 BC. There are of course various other caves to visit like the Sung Sot, which is almost always included in many local tours itineraries.

One of the most famous attractions of Halong Bay is the Day and Night Grotto. It is famous because of the amazing limestone architecture found inside the grotto. It is also rich and teeming with life, as monkeys run back and forth in the grotto and sway in the trees that grow there. Walking along the rocks you will see fossils of snails that thrive in the place thousands of years back.

The easiest way to get there is by road, and takes about three to four hours from Hanoi. There are also helicopter services which should be able to take you there in less than half of the time. If you want to travel by water, you can join a cruise which will drop you in the nearby port.

Truly, Halong Bay is a great place to visit, perfect for those who want to escape the busy metropolitans. It has laid back atmosphere and the beautiful place will definitely make your stay a peaceful and rejuvenating one.

Photo by cristinabe on Flickr