Ha Long Bay, located in the Gulf of Tonkin, within Quang Ninh Province, in the northeast of Vietnam, is165 km from the capital of Ha Noi. Covering an area of 43,400 ha and including over 1600 islands and islets, most of which are uninhabitated and unaffected by humans, it forms a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars and is an ideal model of a mature Karst landscape developed during a warm and wet tropical climate. The property’s exceptional scenic beauty is complemented by its great biological interest.
The outstanding value of the property is centered around the drowned limestone karst landforms, displaying spectacular pillars with a variety of coastal erosional features such as arches and caves which form a majestic natural scenery. The repeated regression and transgression of the sea on the limestone karst over geological time has produced a mature landscape of clusters of conical peaks and isolated towers which were modified by sea invasion, adding an extra elemant to the process of lateral undercutting of the limstone towers and islands.
Criterion (vii): Comprised of a multitude of limestone islands and islets rising from the sea, in a variety of sizes and shapes and presenting picturesque, unspoiled nature, Ha Long Bay is a spectacular seascape sculpted by nature. The property retains a high level of naturalness, and despite its long history of human use, is not seriously degraded. Outstanding features of the property include the magnificent towering limestone pillars and associated notches, arches and caves, which are exceptionally well-developed and among the best presented of their type in the world.
Criterion (viii): As the most extensive and best known example of marine-invaded tower karst in the world Ha Long Bay is one of the world’s most important areas of Fengcong (clusters of conical peaks) and Fenglin (isolated tower features) karst. Abundant lakes, occupying drowned dolines, are one of the distinctive features of the Fencong karst, with some appearing to be tidal. Possessing a tremendous diversity of caves and other landforms derived from the unusual geomorphological process of marine invaded tower karst the caves are of three main types: remnants of phreatic caves; old karstic foot caves and marine notch caves. The property also displays the full range of karst formation processes on a very large scale and over a very long period of geological time, possessing the most complete and extensive exzample of its type in the world and providing a unique and extensive reservoir of data for the future understanding of geoclimatic history and the nature of karst processes in a complex environment.