The bay is in the Gulf of Tonkin in the Quang Ninh Province and is a UNESCO site. Within the bay are over 1600 islands and smaller protrusions from the water which have been formed over the course of 20 million years. The limestone peaks which protrude from the water surface have been shaved away by time and the elements to form conical peaks (Fengcong) and others which resemble towers (karst or fenglin). The rock and island formations are in constant flux as the rocks move and are changes by the environment.
Because of the unique environmental conditions here there are several biosystems which flourish here and provide a home for special species of flora and fauna. Another feature of Ha Long Bay is the caves which have formed along the water’s edge in the islands and islets and glow with stalagmites and stalactites. Some of the caves are underwater and others are open to the air. The bay appears at its most mystical when a heavy fog covers the bay and hangs over the small islands during the winter months between February and April.
The most popular routes to follow when visiting Ha Long Bay are Thien Cung Grotto, Dau Go Cave and Sung Sot Cave also the Su Tu Bien Islet. All of these routes will take you to the most exquisite of the bay caves. The easiest way to get up close to the caves and the bay is to either hire a Junk or take an organized or custom private cruise on the bay. You can also take a kayak around halong bay or even a helicopter ride above the bay.
On Ha Long bay’s island of Quan Lan you can visit Quan Lan Beach or try out the man made Bai Chay Beach. Cruises and tours to the bay can be arranged from your travel guide ahead of time, it is also possible to take an overnight tour where accommodations on a luxurious junk is included as you cruise Ha Long Bay and it’s magnificent scenery. If you’d rather stay on land you can hike through the Cat Ba National Park on the bay’s largest island or explore some of the forested areas near the coast.