Ha Long Bay

 Viet Nam
Province: Quang Ninh
N20 53 60 E107 5 60
Date of Inscription: 1994
Extension: 2000
Criteria: (vii)(viii)
Property : 150,000 ha
Ref: 672bis

Ha Long Bay, in the Gulf of Tonkin, includes some 1,600 islands and islets, forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars. Because of their precipitous nature, most of the islands are uninhabited and unaffected by a human presence. The site’s outstanding scenic beauty is complemented by its great biological interest.

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.

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7 replies »

  1. The whole experience is a once-in-a-lifetime that is so uplifting that you develop a respect towards nature and what it provides you. One really realises the harmony between man and the nature is essence of human existence. The sunrise and the sunset at the place is so different and unique that one is is able to see the marigold sky with hues of yellow and orange which no other place in the world can really offer you.


  2. We went on a cruise and stayed one night on the cruise. To reach Halong City and catch the cruise, we travelled some 4 hours car journey to the East of Hanoi centre. The water wasn’t choppy and we could get a good night sleep in the cabins. We had a good feast on the Golden Cruise during dinner.

    The views are spectacular and there are many photo worthy shots of this Bay. It has lived up to its reputation as a heritage site. We visited Titop island on Halong Bay. It has a small beach where one can swim in it safely. Tourists climbed up 400 steps to reach the top for a spectacular bird’s eye view of many islands in Halong Bay.

    We had also visited Hang Sung Sot, “Cave of Surprises”, in Halong Bay area. This is a limestone cave that is big enough to go around it. Here you can see stalagmites and stalactites in their glories. It is paved with easy pathways for the visitors to walk on.


  3. As we drew closer, I began to see what had attracted so many others before me. The scenery was truly bewitching.

    I don’t know exactly what it is about a view of countless hills in all shapes and sizes which is so captivating. Perhaps it is because the hills stand at different distances so that some are rendered darker or clearer while others are only blurred silhouettes. Chinese artworks come to mind with their varying areas of bold brush strokes and soft washes.

    Is part of the appeal the sense that one is lost in painting?

    In the case of Halong, the experience is heightened by the fact that the hills are islands surrounded by a wide, dark sea. Every curve of peak is doubled, mirrored in a magical realm which appears or disappears according to the whims of the light.


  4. The scenery of the Bay plus kayaking in the cave was amazing, definitely the highlight. The limestone cave however is very touristy as it was packed, but the views from climbing up to the top of the stairs and seeing the whole Bay was great!


  5. The best way to see Ha Long Bay is by a cruise around the islands – most tours are two or three days long. Ha Long Bay tours typically involve attractions like seeing caves and fishing villages and activities like kayaking and swimming. And the liners are either luxury, with features rivaling five-star hotels, or backpacker friendly and great for parties. The best boats also include entertainment, fantastic food, cooking lessons, spas, and helpful guides. Ha Long Bay is very touristy, but its sheer beauty makes it one of the best things to do in Vietnam.


  6. For many, a trip to the bay is a one night affair, but we opted for a 48 hour stay which meant we were transferred to a day boat for a trip round neighbouring Lan Ha bay, jumping off the ship, hitting the sun loungers and a bit more kayaking. Despite the apparent desolation of the bay, indigenous sales people in rowing boats abound, selling beers, chocolate, trinkets and so on, which came in handy, though they were clearly the bane of our boat’s crew.

    Our final bit of sightseeing was perhaps the most impressive; the Cua Van floating village. A township of around 200 abodes, housing perhaps 800 villagers on the water, some 20km away from the harbour.


  7. There are lots of options available when it comes to cruising Ha Long Bay. We had a one night/ two-day cruise booked as part of our tour package. It turned out to be of great value and included most of the options included in longer cruises but with a shorter duration time for the activities. When visiting Ha Long Bay it is advised to travel with only a small carry on rucksack, as there is limited storage on both the bus and small boat transfer (you can leave the large backpack/suitcase securely at the hotel and collect upon return).


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