Socialist Republic of Vietnam
3,000 islands rising from the sea, create Magnificent Halong Bay
and is one of the natural marvels of Vietnam. The bay was listed
as World Natural Heritage by UNESCO, as this is an area of outstanding
Halong Bay stands for "Dragon descending to
the sea". According to the legend, the Bay was created when
an immense dragon plunged to Earth and its mighty tail carved the
stone seabed violently. Before the creature flew away, it left behind
the thousands of islands we can see today.
Halong Bay covers an area of 1,500 square kilometers
and there are pleasant beaches as well as peaceful coves scattered
over the islands. The bay is a huge marine reserve and on the islands
lives a wide variety of birds and animals including bantams, monkeys
Haiphong is Vietnams 3rd largest city and on of the country's most
important seaports. However, the city is a relatively sleepy place
with little traffic and many beautiful French-colonial buildings.
It is a nice stopover on the way to the Halong
Bay and you can take a boat here to the bay or continue to to Halong
City, the real gateway to the famous bay.
Cat Ba is the largest island in the Halong Bay area and has some
beaches to explore. The little city on the island is growing fast
and standard accommodation is now readily available.
Half of the island has been declared a National
Park and is an ideal gateway to visit the famous Halong Bay.
Nestled high in the Tonkinese Alps near the Chinese border, Sapa
was built as a hill station during French colonial days and served
as a retreat from the stifling Hanoi summers.
It is a beautiful area about 1,500 above see level
with steep terraced rice fields, raging rivers and astounding waterfalls.
Sapa also has an amazing diversity of flora, ranging from flowers
to tropical and temperate fruit.
The area is home to various ethnic minorities and
a highlight of each visit is a trek to local hill tribe village.
On Sundays, the colorful weekly market is definitely worth a visit.
Sapa is also the starting point for climbers and
scientists who want to climb Mount Fansipan, the highest mountain
in Indochina at 3,143 m.
This is a rural village located towards the mountains of Laos. It
is a beautiful area and most people here are ethnic White Thai,
distantly related to tribes in Thailand, Laos and China. The area
invites for trekking and one can make day trips from Mai Chau or
mount longer treks to remote villages.