Ha Long Bay: A Breathtaking World Heritage Site in Vietnam
One hundred miles of terror:
Our trip from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay started with a harrowing 100-mile car trip. The driver spoke no English, muttered under his breath the whole time, drove with his hand on the horn, and passed every car in sight. We were beyond terrified. Luckily, we arrived in one piece at the jetty.
We had booked a stateroom on a vintage teak ship for our tour of Ha Long Bay. The ship and our room were as beautiful as we imagined!
Ha Long Bay is absolutely spectacular!
We had a wonderfully relaxing, breath-taking, informative and interesting trip through 2,000 emerald monolithic isles arising from turquoise waters.
Ha Long Bay is a World Heritage Site because it is really really spectacular. Its designation was revised in 2000 to also recognize its outstanding geological and geomorphological value.
Let’s Go Spelunking in a World Heritage Site
Many of the limestone islands in Halong Bay are hollow with enormous caves. We toured one of the caves that has been fitted with boardwalks and lights. It was spectacular.
Our boat did not provide a tour guide, a huge deficiency, but I glommed onto another tour. No one in that tour was asking questions, so the guide was very happy to answer mine. After much discussion, he told me that these are the caves where the Vietnamese hid their children during the American war. This was a very sad story.
Indochine, a 1991 French film starring Catherine Deneuve, introduced Ha Long Bay to many Western tourists.
Tomorrow Never Dies
Tomorrow Never Dies, a James Bond movie released in 1997, is set in Vietnam and Ha Long Bay. The planned shoot in Ha Long Bay was cancelled at the last minute when the cast and crew had problems obtaining visas from the Vietnamese government.
Phuket served as the double for Ha Long Bay. The islands off the coast of Phuket are spectacular, but not quite as spectacular as Ha Long Bay.
There are 4 fishing villages in Ha Long Bay. The communities live on floating houses.
Treasures of the Sea
We stopped at a pearl farm, which I found very interesting.
They pulled oysters from the water, opened them, and voila, there was a pearl.
Would you pay $15 for a string of black pearls?
When we were back on our boat, we were approached by a local boat, selling strings of pearls for $15.
I have no idea if these pearls are real or fake. It doesn’t matter; they are a great reminder of a wonderful trip in the spectacular World Heritage Ha Long Bay!
Now it is time to say good-bye to Vietnam.