Experiencing The Legend of Halong Bay
According to legend, several thousand years ago, the newly-formed nation of Vietnam had to fight off an influx of fierce invaders coming by ship from the North. In an effort to protect the burgeoning country, the Jade Emperor, Ngoc Hoang, summoned the Mother Dragon and her children. Right as the enemy hordes reached the Vietnamese mainland, the dragons appeared and set the invaders aflame using divine fire and giant emeralds. During the battle, the emeralds from the dragons’ mouths were scattered across the battlefield and in the nearby sea, forming an impenetrable wall, which left the enemy fleet stranded and sinking. Thanks to the dragons, the Northern invaders were beaten back and peace returned to Vietnam.
After the battle, legend has it that the Mother Dragon and her children did not return to heaven, but instead took on human forms and remained amongst the Vietnamese people. Over the next several decades, the dragons helped the Vietnamese plant crops, raise cattle and expand the country's population. Meanwhile, over the next millennia, the wall created by the dragons’ emeralds slowly turned into thousands of islands all different shapes and sizes. To honor the Mother Dragon and her children, the Vietnamese named the two bays which served as the battle site “Halong”, meaning “descending dragon”, and “Bai Tu Long”, meaning “thanks to the dragon’s children”.
Regardless of whether the legend is true or not, the beauty of Halong Bay is undeniable. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this stunning series of limestone pillars surrounded by beautiful, blue water filled with classic junk boats, give the place a mystical, timeless feel. Here are the top 5 ingredients to making your own visit a legendary one!
1. Junk Boat Voyage
These ancient sailing vessels are incredible, both in their beauty and their service. From the deck, enjoy a spot of tai chi or simply soak in the view of the intricate Halong landscape in motion. Afterward, head to the ship's dining room to savor a sumptuous meal before some well-earned time to digest with your camera or a good book on the top deck.
2. Stop by a Floating Pearl Farm
Whether you're looking for a souvenir for a loved one or simply window shopping, visiting one of the floating villages where pearls are grown and harvested is a must. The voyage to one of these pearl farms is often an adventure in itself, as it requires a small boat ride, paddled by a local, oftentimes with their feet! Not only that, but upon arrival at the farm, bearing witness to the intricate and lengthy process that goes into creating just one perfect pearl will give you a new appreciation for their value.
3. Savor the Food
Halong Bay is certainly a feast for the eyes, but a visit to this unique region can also be a literal feast as well! Take a quiet moment to appreciate an early cup of steaming hot Vietnamese coffee. If you’re a seafood fan, try one of the many available options - from scallop soup to grilled shrimp to fresh crab, all served with the perfect amount of spice. Just remember to save room for dessert, which often comes in the form of sweet fruits!
4. Take a Dip
Be it in a kayak or in a bathing suit, experiencing the wonderful warm waters of Halong Bay is a truly memorable experience. The turquoise blue water maintains an average temperature of 70 degrees year-round, making it enticing no matter the time of the day.
5. Explore the Islands
One of the best parts about visiting Halong Bay is exploring one of the numerous islands. While Cat Ba is the most impressive and most popular, there are a multitude of others which offer amazing views of the surreal landscape. Pack a snack along with your sense of adventure before taking to one of the forested trails to have a look!
Unique, breathtaking and a once-in-a-lifetime experience unlike any other - visiting Halong Bay is a must! So what are you waiting for!?