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                            HALONG BAY VIETNAM


UNESCO World Heritage Site



Ha Long Bay (Vietnamese: Vịnh Hạ Long) is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Quảng Ninh province, Vietnam. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes.

Local legend says that long ago when the Vietnamese were fighting Chinese invaders, the gods sent a family of dragons to help defend the land. This family of dragons began spitting out jewels and jade. These jewels turned into the islands and islets dotting the bay, linking together to form a great wall against the invaders. The people kept their land safe and formed what later became the country of Vietnam. After that, dragons were interested in peaceful sightseeing of the Earth and decided to live here then. The place where Mother Dragon flew down was named Hạ Long, the place where the dragon children attended upon their mother was called Bi Tử Long island (Bi: attend upon, Tử: children, Long: dragon), and the place where the dragon children wriggled their tails violently was called Bạch Long Vỹ island (Bạch: white- colour of the foam made when Children Dragon wriggle, Long: dragon, Vỹ: tail).

Geographical location
Ha Long Bay is in northeastern Vietnam, from E10656' to E10737' and from N2043' to N2109'. The bay stretches from Yn Hưng district, past Hạ Long city, Cẩm Phả town to Vn Đồn district, bordered on the south and southeast by the Gulf of Tonkin, on the north by China and on the west and southwest by Ct B island. The bay has a 120 kilometre long coastline and is approximately 1,553 square kilometres in size with 1969 islets. The area designated by UNESCO as the World Natural Heritage Site includes 434 km with 775 islets, of which the core zone is delimited by 69 points: Đầu Gỗ island on the west, Ba Hầm lake on the south and Cống Ty island on the east. The protected area is from the Ci Dăm petrol store to Quang Hanh commune, Cẩm Phả town and the surrounding giants zone.


Soi Nhụ culture (16000- 5000 BCE)
Located in Hạ Long and Bi Tử Long, there are symbolic archaeological sites such as M Cung and Thin Long. There are mounds of remains of mountain shellfishes (Cyclophorus) and spring shellfishes (Melania), some fresh water mollusk and some rudimentary labour tools. The main living procedures of Soi Nhụ's habitants were catching shellfish and fish, collecting fruits and digging for bulbs and roots. Their living environment is coastal area unlike other Vietnamese cultures, for example those found in Ho Bnh, Bắc Sơn, etc.

Ci Bo culture (5000- 3000BCE)
Located in Hạ Long and Ct B island, its habitants developed to the level of sea exploitation.

Hạ Long culture (2500- 1500BCE)



Feudal period
History shows that Ha Long Bay has been the setting for local naval battles against Vietnam's coastal neighbours. On three occasions in the labyrinth of channels in Bach Dang river near the islands the Vietnamese army stopped the Chinese from landing. In 1288 General Tran Hung Dao stopped Mongol ships from sailing up the nearby Bach Dang River by placing steel-tipped wooden stakes at high tide, sinking the Mongol Dubhai Khan's fleet.

During the Vietnam War, many of the channels between the islands were heavily mined by the navy of the United States, some of which pose a threat to shipping to this day.

System of isles and caves

Thien Cung grotto. The bay consists of a dense cluster of 1,969 limestone monolithic islands, each topped with thick jungle vegetation, which rise spectacularly from the ocean. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves. Hang Đầu Gỗ (Wooden stakes Cave) is the largest grotto in the Ha Long area. French tourists visited in the late 19th century, and named the cave Grotte des Merveilles. Its three large chambers contain large numerous stalactites and stalagmites (as well as 19th century French graffiti). There are two bigger islands, Tuan Chau and Cat Ba, that have permanent inhabitants. Both of them have tourist facilities, including hotels and beaches. There are a number of wonderful beaches on the smaller islands.

Some of the islands support floating villages of fishermen, who ply the shallow waters for 200 species of fish and 450 different kinds of mollusks. Many of the islands have acquired their names as a result of interpretation of their unusual shapes: such names include Voi Islet (elephant), Ga Choi Islet (fighting cock), and Mai Nha Islet (roof). 989 of the islands have been given names. Birds and animals including bantams, antelopes, monkeys, and iguanas also live on some of the islands.

Almost these islands are individual towers in a classic fenglin lanscape which height is from 50m to 100m and height/width ratios up to about 6.

Another specific feature of Halong Bay is the abundance of lakes inside the limestone islands, for example, Dau Be island has six enclosed lakes. All these island lakes occupy drowned dolines within fengcong karst.


Floating fishing villageA community of around 1600 people live on Ha Long Bay in four fishing villages: Cửa Vạn, Ba Hang, Cống Tu and Vng Ving in Hng Thắng commune, Hạ Long city. They live on floating houses and are sustained by capture fishing and marine aquaculture (cultivating marine biota).

Originally in Ha Long Bay there was only one fishing village. Now there are about ten.

Honourable name
In 1962, Vietnam Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism arranged Ha Long Bay as National Renowned Landscape Vestige.

The bay was World's Natural Heritage listed by UNESCO at the 18th meeting of the Committee of the World Heritages of UNESCO (in Phuket, Thailand on December 17th, 1994) for its outstanding universal aesthetic value according to the criteria explained in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention. On December 2nd, 2000 at the 24th meeting of Committee of the World Heritages in Cairns, Australia, Ha Long Bay was admitted as a World Heritage Site for its outstanding geological and geomorphologic value according to the criteria of that Convention.[1]

Ha Long Bay was introduced to nominate by New Open World Foundation as World's 7 Natural Wonder.[1]
Geology and geomorphology

History of tectonics
Scientists say that Ha Long Bay has experienced at least 500 million years in the various geological states of orogeny, marine transgression and marine regression. During the Ordovician and Silurian periods (500-410 million years ago), Ha Long Bay was deep sea. During the Carboniferous and Permian periods (340-250 million years ago), Ha Long Bay was at shallow sea level.

Karst geomorphology value
As of simultaneous combination of ideal factors like thick pale grey strong limestone layer which is formed by fine-grained materials, hot and moist climate and slow tectonic process in whole, Ha Long bay has had a complete karst evolutionary for 20 million years. There are many of karst topography kind in Ha Long such as karst field.

Ha Long Bay is host to two ecosystems: a tropical, moist, evergreen rainforest ecosystem and a marine & coastal ecosystem. The bay is home to seven endemic species.

Endemic species
Livistona halongensis
Impatiens halongensis
Chirieta halongensis
Chirieta hiepii
Chirieta modesta
Paraboea halongensis
Alpinia calcicola
The many islands that dot the bay are home to a great many other species, including (but likely not limited to): 477 magnoliales, 12 pteris, 20 salt marsh flora and 4 amphibia, 10 reptilia, 40 aves, and 4 mammalia.


Ha Long Bay is perhaps the most popular travel destination of the country. Foreigners and natives alike are attracted to its natural, universal appeal, not to mention the shopping and dining prospects located close by.

Seafood in Ha Long is diversifying. Cuttle-fish- mực, oyester- h, cyclinae- ngn, prawn (penaeidea- tm he, panulirus- tm hm, parapenaeopsis- tm sắt...), spunculoideas- s sng, nerita- ốc đĩa, charonia tritonis- ốc t v, c sy... are popular in many famous delicious dishes.

Problems of Tourism
With an increasing tourist trade, mangroves and sea grass beds have had to be cleared and jetties and wharves have been built for tourist boats.

Fuel and oil, along with tourist litter, have created pollution problems, which impact on both the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem of the islands. Human waste from portable toilets erected for tourists, finds its way into the soil and water surrounding the islands, once more altering the ecosystem functioning through increased nutrient flow.

Game fishing, often near coral reefs are threatening many endangered species of fish. Often the fish is not consumed locally but exported to other markets around the region.

The delicate limestone cave ecosystems are diminishing as tourists visiting the caves break off stalagmites and stalactites. Litter, including wine bottles, is dropped into cave streams and visitors exhale carbon dioxide, which has a deleterious affect on the caves. The mouths of some caves have been widened to allow tourist access. This increase in light has lead to an imbalance in the delicate links between the flora and fauna, and a decrease in the humidity of the caves.[2]

In literature
Nguyễn Tri wrote about Ha Long Bay: "This wonder is ground raises up in the middle of the high sky". Xun Diệu utter a praise: "Here is the unfinished works of the Beings...Here is the stones which the Giant played and threw away". Nguyn Ngọc summarized: "...to form this first- rate wonder, nature only uses: Stone and Water...There is just only two materials themselves chosen from as much as materials, in order to write, to draw, to sculpture, to create everything...It is quite possible that here is the image of the future world". Ho Chi Minh remarks: "It is the wonder that one cannot impart to others". Pham Van Dong embarrassed: "Is it one scenery or many sceneries? Is it the scenery in the world or somewhere?". Nguyễn Tun recognized that:" Only mountains accept to be old, but Ha Long sea and wave is young for ever".

Che Lan Vien sensed:

"Hạ Long, Bi Tử Long- Dragons were hidden, only stones still remain
On the moonlight night, stones meditate as men..."
Lord Trịnh Cương overflowed with emotion: "Mountains are glistened by water shadow, water spill all over the sky".
Huy Cận was agitated: "Night breathes, stars wave Ha Long's water".

In popular culture
It was the theme of Robocon (Asian Pacific Robot Contest) hold in Vietnam in 2007: "Discover Ha Long" [2]
The band dredg wrote a song titled Ha Long Bay.
In the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, James and Wai Lin attempt to chase down Elliot Carver played by Jonathan Pryce in the Ha Long Bay area.
It was featured on the Amazing Race 10 on "Leg 4", which was originally aired on October 8, 2006.
It was featured in the programme The Hairy Bikers' Cookbook.


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