Vietnam – Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay is one of Vietnam's most famous and popular tourist destinations. It is located in Tonkin Bay in the South China Sea in Quang Ninh Province. Since 1994 it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ha Long means the place where the dragon descends into the sea. It is also said that thanks to the dragon there were created interesting limestone rocks from the sea, which attract many tourists every year.
Ha Long has an area of approximately 1553 km2 and is home to up to 2000 limestone islands. The limestone has been transformed over 500 million years under different conditions and environments. The development of karst areas lasted 20 million years due to tropical wet climates. Each of the islands is covered with lush vegetation, some of which are hollow and there are karst caves, the largest of which is called Hang Dau Go (the French was then renamed the Grotte des Merveilles). There live about 14 endemic plant species and 60 endemic animal species. Apart from the caves there are also many lakes on the limestone islands.
In Ha Long Bay, there are two large islands - Tuan Chau and Cat Ba, which have permanent residents and plenty of tourist complexes including beautiful beaches. In addition, there are approximately 1600 people in four fishing villages - Cua Van, Vong Vieng, Ba Hang and Cong Tau. They inhabit floating homes and provide fishing and aquaculture. There are approximately 200 species of fish and 450 species of molluscs in the waters.
From the harbor of Ha Long, in the morning we set out to explore the famous islands. First we head to the Thien Cung Karst cave (Động Thiên Cung), located north of Dau Go Island and 4 km from our harbor. Thanks to its countless stalactites of various shapes and sizes, it is one of the most beautiful caves in Ha Long Bay. The cave is 25 meters high and accessible by a stone staircase. Its area is about 10,000 m2. The cave was open to the public in 1998 and every day there are crowds of tourists.
Our next stop is kayak rental (located directly on the sea), where, unfortunately, we only borrow kayaks (maybe even slopes) and we sail through islands. We recommend that you spend as much time as possible because it was probably the best of the trip and we were so sorry we had so little time. Then we go on a sailing trip between the islands. Most of them are named after their shape and sometimes it is quite complicated to really see what we should. Imagination is definitely in place. We specifically admire Choi Islet - the fighting cock.
What you can do in Ha Long? The city is probably literally built for tourists. Houses have a little European character, restaurants in American burgers, Italian pizza or pasta are more often than Vietnamese specialties. The dominant feature of the city is the enormous Sun World theme park. So somehow in total, the city misses the real charm of this country, like Nha Trang. However, a trip to the sea between limestone is truly worthwhile.
GPS: 20°54'37.8"N 107°11'03.1"E
Text and photos: Veronika Schubertová
Today we are about to enjoy our last amazing trip in Vietnam, we originally intended to visit the Ba Vi National Park, but for time constraints we had to change our program because we need to reserve at least two days for this park. So we had a hotel counseling and planned a trip to a place that was not even mentioned in our book guide, although it is very popular for tourists (even for local people). Today, we go to visit the largest Vietnamese pagoda Bai Dinh and then explore the beautiful complex Trang An.
Immediately after arriving at Sa Pa, stay and do not waste your time. With clear visibility, the best choice is to arrange a lift to Phan Xi Pang. It is the longest cableway in the world that uses a three-lane system. Its length is about 6 km and was opened in 2016. It is still being built here. True, for tourists who enjoy the virgin nature with a mountain cottage, it probably will not. Several pagodas, sanctuaries, even a train have been built on top, which will take you to the highest point. The prospects are really good, and the landscape here is on your palm.
Nha Trang is practically the most famous tourist resort in Vietnam, not so much for some landmarks, this coastal city of Khanh Hoa province is famous for its seven kilometers long sandy beach with adjacent islands. The city of approximately 392,000 inhabitants and this number is growing steadily.
In the evening we arrive at the airport in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon). We are already busy only to lodge for a quick dinner in the busy streets of this largest Vietnamese city and sleep. The next day a very exciting war trip is waiting for us - we go to the Cu Chi tunnels.
There are many places how to travel in the country. I have prepared for you a small summary with some recommendations.
Vietnam is no destination where climbers would travel intentionally. Yet once you are there you should try its climbing areas. We travelled to Cat Ba island which I highly recommend to any climber.
Last year already, we brought you a video of the "wedding" town of Dat Lat, Vietnam. Our reporteur made a return there to ride down one of the best roads in Vietnam for a road trip on motorbike.
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