seascapes, caves, kayaking, bio-diversity and Vietnam's best
most obvious attraction is Ha Long Bay, adjacent to the Gulf
of Tonkin, and currently attracting nearly two million visitors
each year. Despite its status as one of Vietnam’s busiest
tourist centres, its enormous scale, unique geomorphology
and indisputable splendour makes a visit almost essential.
Haivenu, you escape the worst of the crowds. We use only high
quality boats, and recommend a night on the bay to allow time
for the less visited islands and grottoes, leaving those that
have been equipped with lights, walkways, refreshment stalls
and souvenir shops to the tourists. The exceptions are Dao
Go, a large cavern worth visiting for its grandeur, and Sung
Sot, for its
remarkable stalactites and stalagmites.
the name Ha Long Bay is often used to describe the entire area, it refers
only to a section of a vast archipelago of thousands of limestone
pinnacles stretching nearly a hundred kilometres from Haiphong
to the east.
remarkable seascape owes its existence to a complex process
of erosion referred to as ‘karst’. A massive layer of high
quality limestone was slowly dissolved by a warm wet climate
that prevailed over South East Asia through untold millions
of years. Water trickled through crevices enlarged cracks
in the limestone creating caves and caverns, and caused weaker
strata to collapse leaving the distinctive towers seen today.
Comparatively recently, seismic activity inundated the low-lying
land, creating Ha Long Bay.
almost perpendicular peaks conceal the remains of many caves
and grottos, their entrances exposed when part of the tower
wall collapsed, but now concealed by subsequent rock falls
and dense vegetation.
caves were already known, and others have been discovered recently,
but expert opinion is that they represent only a fraction
of those still hidden from view. Three large caves in the
heart of the area protected as World Heritage have been made
accessible to visitors. Many smaller caves can be visited,
but often require a scramble across rocks and through unlit
the southwest corner of Ha Long Bay is Cat Ba, a large ‘karst’
limestone island full of small mountains covered in verdant
forest. Part of the island is a National Park, rich in flora
and fauna including one of the most endangered species of
monkey in the world. Cat Ba also boasts two small, but pleasant,
the east is Bai Tu Long Bay. Although not quite matching the
range of geological attributes of its illustrious neighbour,
it is equally attractive and benefits from being less visited.
Bai Tu Long, and particularly Quan Lan island, has by far
the best beaches in northern Vietnam. Most are more or less
empty, but tourism facilities are limited.
Bay is also a treasure house of endemic, and often endangered,
species of flora, molluscs and small invertebrates. Our company
name and logo is derived from one such plant, the yellow slipper
orchid, or ‘hai ve nu’ in Vietnamese.
present, a long term project is steadily transforming the
entire archipelago and its hinterland into South East Asia’s
first Ecomuseum linking all aspects of its natural, environmental
and cultural elements to provide a holistic view for visitors,
and to focus attention upon the critical importance of its