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HALONG BAY - VIETNAM

Hạ Long Bay (literally: "Descending Dragon Bay"; Vietnamese: Vịnh Hạ Long) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a popular travel destination, located in Quảng Ninh province, Vietnam. Administratively, the bay belongs to Hạ Long City, Cẩm Phả town, and part of Van Don district. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes. Hạ Long Bay is a center of a larger zone which includes Bái Tử Long bay to the northeast, and Cát Bà islands to the southwest. These larger zones share similar geological, geographical, geomorphological, climate, and cultural characters.

HALONG BAY –  THE WORLD HERITAGE AND NEW 7 WONDERS OF NATURE
Halong Bay attracts approximately 95% of the tourists who come to Vietnam. It's a beautiful bay coHalong Baymprising 1,553 square km situate on the Gulf of Tonkin Gulf on the Eastern Sea. Though it forms part of the ocean, its waters are calm and unusually emerald. It has nearly 2,000 islands. The enchanting land masse of the Bay is of limestone and dolomite, and there are many grottos and caves for visitors to enjoy. Tourist who have visited Guilin (China) and Phuket (Thailand) often compare these sites with Halong Bay due to their similar shape and geographical structure. However, upon visiting this Vietnamese wonder, all agree that Halong Bay is much larger and more diversified. It is so magnificent, that after a very short period of consideration, UNESCO acknowledged Halong Bay as a World Heritage site in December 1994. This is the 2nd of the four listed World Heritages of Vietnam.

In 1991 a scene of the French movie INDOCHINE was shot at Halong Bay. This very popular film is about the life of a French woman who lived in Vietnam during the French domination in Indochina from mid-19th to mid-20th century. The leading role is played by Catherine Deneuve and Vicent Perez. As the film made its way around the world, not only FrenchHalong bay-speaking tourists began to make the voyage to Halong Bay, but the world now includes this spectacular seascape on its itinerary.

Before it became so popular, it was pretty difficult to get to Halong Bay from Hanoi, 170 km away. In 1995, it took no less than 6-hours of driving with 2 river ferry crossings, with inconvenient getting in and out of busses. But still, despite this inconvenience, tourists always included Halong Bay as part of their itineraries.

Today, you can drive directly to Halong Bay without the need to take any ferries and in three hours or even less if the traffic is not too heavy. But tourists love to stop along the way to look at the paddy fields, the daily life of farmers, the clay workmen, the greenbean town and the ceramic town that are now situate on the way. There is a saying amongst Vietnamese about Halong Bay: "You have never really been to Vietnam if you have not visited Halong Bay." How true!

THIEN CUNG CAVEHalong Bay
This recently discovered grotto is perhaps the most beautiful grotto in all of Ha Long bay. Thien Cung is a large and beautiful cave, the stalagmites and stalactites are coloured and weathered, the French called it “ the Cave of Wonders.” Thien Cung cave is situated on the south-west site of the bay, 4km from the wharf outside of Ha Long city. It is found in a small range of island that resemble a throne embracing two superb grottoes at its core. The way to Thien Cung is a bit strenuous, going up a path covered on both sides by thick forest. Bu it is very rewarding: after entering a narrow gate, the magnificent, 130m-long grotto opens up.

In the centre there are four large pillars supporting the "roof of heaven". Under the immeasurably  high roof, stalactites form a natural stone curtain. And the wind blowing through the stone produces the sound of a beating drum. In the last chamber of the grotto babbles a natural gushing stream of water and there are three small ponds of clear water. On the path meanders out of the grotto.

DAU GO CAVE
It is also on Dau Go Island, about 300m from Thien Cung Grotto. In October 1962, President Ho Chi Minh visited Dau Go, and famously said “ Everybody should visit the cave to see its beautiful scenery for themselves.” In 1919, King Khai Dinh went to Ha Long and he wrote a poem praising this cave’s beauty. Inside, the cave has a "fairy well" and beautiful stalagmites and stalactites. To learn more, check out: www.DiscoveryHalong.com

(Source: LuxuryPrivateTravel.Com Inc)
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