Majestic and unique, inspirational and imperious: words on their own are unable to do justice to the natural wonder that is Halong Bay Vietnam. Picture 3000 or more remarkable islands rising from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin and now you have a vision of splendid beauty. Halong Bay is 100% pure artwork, an invaluable collection of incomplete sculptures hewn from the hand of nature. In 1994 finally it was designated a World Heritage site. Visitors cant help but compare the magical, mystical landscape of limestone islets to Guilin in China and Krabi in southern Thailand, but in reality Halong Bay is so much more spectacular. These very small islets are dotted with sandy beaches and grottoes created by blowing wind and wave form, and have sparsely forested slopes ringing with birdsong. Beyond the breathtaking vistas on a vessel cruise through the bay, visitors to Halong Bay come to explore the grottoes some of which are fantastically illuminated for the benefit from travellers and to hike in Cat Ba National Park. There are some real golden beaches in Halong Bay, but Lan Ha Bay (off the coast of Cat Ba Island) has more than 100 sandy strips. Halong bay Halong City is the gateway to Halong Bay but not the ideal introduction to this incredible World Heritage site. Developers have not been kind to the city and most visitors sensibly opt for tours that include sleeping on a boat in the bay. In short, Halong Bay is the attraction; Halong City is not. As the number-one tourist attraction in the northeast, Halong Bay draws a steady stream of visitors year-round. From February to April the weather in this region is often cool and drizzly. The ensuing fog can make visibility low, but this adds an ethereal air to the place and the temperature rarely falls below 5°C. During the summer months tropical storms are frequent, and tourist boats may have to alter their itineraries, depending on the weather. Halong bay Halong Bay is the stuff of myths and in a natural way the Vietnamese have concocted one. Halong translates as where the dragon comes down from into the sea. Legend has it that the islands of Halong Bay were created by a great dragon that lived in the mountains. As it charged towards the coast, its flailing tail gouged out valleys and crevasses. When it finally plunged into the sea, the area filled with water, leaving only the pinnacles visible. Dragons aside, the most significant threat to the bay may be from souvenir-hunting tourists. Rare corals and seashells are easily being stripped from the sea floor, and stalactites and stalagmites are now being broken off from the caves. These items get turned into key rings, paperweights and ashtrays, which are on sale in the local souvenir shops. Obviously the fewer people buy, the less the local people will take to sell, so dont encourage the trade.