You’ve seen calm seas and you’ve seen sprawling mountains. Put the two together, throw in some evasive mist, dig up some extravagant caves, and shake a magic wand. You might get something close to Halong Bay in Northeast Vietnam.
Over 3000 limestone structures arise out of the waters, as though the heavens are really beneath the surface and gracing the earth, forming a spectacle of beauty, mystery and magic, like you’ve never witnessed before.
I cruised along these waters of the Gulf of Tonkin (Halong Bay) on the Imperial Junk, one of the many mid-range options to be part of the land on water phenomenon. Imagine sitting on the deck of the cruise, gazing at scores of limestone structures, each with it’s own touch of perfection, looking as stunning at sunrise as at sunset.
Each cruise provides food (quality is proportional to the price of the cruise), water activities like kayaking and limestone cave exploration. The limestone cave open for exploration is decked up in lights, and although the ambiance is artificial, the intricate stalactites and stalagmites are very real and stunning indeed.
Although neither Halong Bay nor Halong on Land made it to Lonely Planet’s world’s greatest natural wonders, both are mysterious, magical, charming and perfect in their own ways.