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Bai Tu Long Bay

Beyond busy Halong are the quiet waters of Bai Tu Long Bay

In the Gulf of Tonkin, 175km east of Hanoi, lies the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Halong Bay. 25,000 years ago this landscape was deep below a prehistoric ocean that receded over time to leave a breathtakingly beautiful passage of 1600 small islands and a biodiverse ecosystem.

As you paddle through the mystical seascape limestone pillars, laced with caves, ascend from deep jade waters, the colours ever changing under the sun's soft light and delicately clouded skies. And each island whispers its own story on the breeze.

Stories are the heart of Halong. According to legend, a family of dragon was sent by Ngoc Hoang (the King of Heaven) to protect the Vietnamese people from invaders. They spat jewels of jade into the sea, creating a protective wall of karsts. Halong means "descending dragon bay" with Halong being where the mother dragon descended and Bai Tu Long where her children descended.

Several hundred fishermen and their families still live in the bays, but they may be in need of the dragons' protection yet again. Since the area was made a UNESCO site in 1994, Halong has seen close to 5 million visitors invade the bays annually in the years leading up to the pandemic. Once travel fully resumes again, this may well be exceeded.

In contrast, the further reaches of Bai Tu Long Bay receives only a few thousand visitors. The serene bay is made even more special by the efforts of tourism operators to use more environmentally friendly vessels, land based stays and passive activities.

You can read more about Bai Tu Long Bay's greener travel options : Kast Away in Halong Bay


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