Once upon a time, during the times of the Jade Emperor, the Chinese forces wanted to appropriate the lands of the Vietnamese empire, so the Emperor asked for help to a family of dragons, who threw pearls and jade to sink enemy ships. This legend also explains that when the battle was over, contemplating the beauty of Halong Bay (Vinh Ha Long), the dragons and their descendants decided to stay there.
About 2000 islets of soluble rocks scattered along 120 kilometers of coastline set up Halong Bay, located in northwest Vietnam. The verticality and enormous size of the immense rocks that seem to vanish in the haze of the China Sea make this breathtaking landscape one of the most beautiful in the world. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Halong Bay was declared a World Heritage Site in 1994.
Everyday hundreds of boats of all sizes navigate its waters. During the boat trip you can visit the floating fishing villages, where natives are dressed in traditional clothing with the conical straw hat.
At sunset, you will probably suffer from Stendhal’s syndrome observing the caves formed in its rocks, specially the Hang Sung Sot (Surprise Grotto), that stars in the quiet sea. Next morning, nothing like tasting the seafood and salted fish in one of the many bars on pylons distributed in strategic corners of the bay, to end with a swim in the beautiful white sands of Monkey Island.
One of the best ways to enjoy all the beauty of this place is to take a trip of two or three days on a cruise. The Emeraude is one of the most luxurious one, a replica of the classic steamboats during the French occupation of Vietnam. This and other ones offer, besides the amazing and unforgettable views, vietnamese cooking classes, kayaking, squid fishing or massages.
When the moon rises, the Oscar-winning film Indochine is shown on deck, starring the wonderful Catherine Deneuve. The fact of being enveloped by the same landscape present in the film, in the silence of the night and under the light of the stars, is an incredibly magical experience. A whole adventure that will not leave anyone indifferent, but that can still be improved by combining it with a helicopter or seaplane flight, departing from Hanoi and flying over the Red River delta, the port of Tuan Chau and the bay, with a perspective from above that is complementary and, at the same time, totally different from the one obtained from the ship.
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Text by Anna Tomàs