World Heritages in Vietnam - Ha Long Bay

Natural Beauty

Ha Long Bay has a total area of about 1,553km² including 1,969 islands with 989 ones being given names. There are limestone and schist which are concentrated in two main zones: the south-east (belonging to Bai Tu Long Bay) and the south-west (belonging to Ha Long Bay). The average geological age of the islands is between 250 and 280 million years old.

Ha Long Bay has ever been appeared by the great national poet Nguyen Trai: "a marvel of the earth erected towards the high skies". While exploring the bay, tourists will feel lost in a legendary world of stone islands. There are many names given to islands according to their shapes and forms such as Hon Dau Nguoi (Human Head Islet), Hon Rong (Dragon Islet), Hon Canh Buom (Sail Islet), Hon Trong Mai (Rooster and Hen Islet). But the beauty of Ha Long Bay is only in the forms of its mountains, islands and the colour of its waters, but also in its infinitely rich system of grottoes and caves such as: Thien Cung (Heavenly Palace Grotto), Dau Go (Driftwood Grotto), Sung Sot (Surprise Grotto), Tam Cung (Three Palace Grotto), Trinh Nu (Virgin Grotto)... Each is a grandiose and refined natural architectural creation.


 Main geological value 

The most remarkable geological events of Ha Long Bay’s history in the last 1,000 years include the raising level of the bay area and the strong erosion that have formed coral and pure blue as well as heavily-salted water. The process of erosion by sea water has engraved the stone, contributing to its fantastic beauty. The present Ha Long Bay is the result of this long process of geological evolution that has been influenced by many factors. It is because of all these factors that the tourists now visiting Ha Long Bay are not only treated to one of the true wonders of the world, but also to a precious geological museum that has been naturally preserved in the open air for the last 300 million years.

Value of biological diversity 

Research show that Ha Long Bay has typical features of ecosystems of a tropical ocean region such as ecosystem of coral reefs with 22 species of coral distributed mainly in the areas of Cong Do and Bo Hung. It is also home to around 81 species of gastropoda, 130 species of bivalvia, 55 species of polycheta and 57 species of crab. The ecosystem of salt water-flooded forests concentrated in the zones of Tuan Chau Island, Cua Luc and Ba Che has the most diversified collection of species of salt water-flooded plant in North Viet Nam. Also living in this ecosystem, a great number of species are found such as migrating birds (200 species), polycheta (169 species), seaweed (91 species), reptile (10 species). Ha Long Bay also has ecosystem of tropical rain forests with various valuable creatures, for example, deer, weasels, squirrels and in particular, white-tabby and red-haired monkeys. In addition, there is a system of small caves along the sea, which are the living places for many animals and plants: seaweed, water plant, algae, fish and shrimp. Deeper into the water, there are also a plenty of species of shrimp, fish, abalone and other sea-specialities.


 Historical and cultural value 

Ha Long is a place closely linked with the Vietnam’s history such as: Van Don (site of an ancient commercial port); Poem Mountain (with engravings of many poems by emperors and other famous people of the past) and Bach Dang River (the location of two fierce naval battles fought against foreign aggressors). Importantly, Ha Long Bay has been considered to be one of the first cradles of human existence in the area, with such archaeological sites as Dong Mang, Xich Tho, Soi Nhu and Thoi Gieng.

On December 17, 1994, Ha Long Bay was recognised as world natural heritage for its natural beauty at the 18th meeting of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO in Thailand. On December 12, 2000, Ha Long Bay was again recognised as world natural heritage for the second time based on its geological value at the 24th meeting of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO in Cairns, Australia. The recognised site has an area of 434km², comprising 775 islands to form a triangle: with Dau Go Island (Driftwood Grotto) to the west; Ba Ham Lake (Three Shelter Lake) to the south and Cong Tay Island to the east.

(Posted by Vietland Holidays on 19 July 2017).