Top Ten Southeast Asia Classic Adventures

Sail Halong Bay by Junk
By Andrew Forbes

More than 2,000 cragged, pinnacle-shape islets are scattered across 580 square miles of Vietnam's Halong Bay, and an excursion by junk or fishing gives you the memorable, eerie experience of sailing past silent, sea-girt caves and around the spectacular formations. In Vietnamese, ha long means "descending dragon," and legend has it that Halong Bay was formed by a gigantic dragon that plunged into the Gulf of Tonkin, creating thousands of limestone outcrops by the lashing of its tail. Geologists, of course, have a different theory, arguing that the myriad islands that dot Halong Bay and extend all the way north to the Chinese frontier are the products of selective erosion of the seabed over millennia. The most spectacular islands and dramatic caves lie in the western part of the bay—boatman will certainly be acquainted with all the best sights. A full day tour of the islands is advised, though shorter trips are possible—lunch or dinner onboard, with generally fresh seafood, is highly recommended and should be arranged beforehand.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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