Located in northeastern Vietnam, Ha Long Bay, meaning “descending dragon” in Vietnamese Nom characters, is a breath-taking landscape within the Gulf of Tonkin. Beautiful karst (formations of limestone) pillars rise out of the emerald water, and along the edge of the bay lie mysterious caves, formed by the gentle waves as the tide rises and falls.
Commonly referred to as one of the new Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Ha Long Bay is truly an awe-inspiring sight to behold. This UNESCO World Heritage site is an incredible embodiment of the country’s natural beauty and has exciting mythology surrounding it as well.
Legend of the Descending Dragons
According to legends, Vietnamese people are said to have descended from dragons. However, that’s not where the bay got its name.
As the stories go, when the country of Vietnam was newly formed, invaders attempted to enter the country by way of the sea. Not wanting his people to fall defending their country, the Jade Emperor pleaded with the gods for help. In response, they sent the Mother Dragon and her children to aid the Vietnamese people in their plight.
These dragons drove back the invaders, saving Vietnam and its people. As the enemy was defeated, emeralds that were immense in both size and beauty appeared, scattered across the bay as a means of defense against future invaders. As time passed, these emeralds became the gorgeous islands that you can visit today.
Exploring This Hidden Gem With AmaWaterways
As a part of AmaWaterways 2-night pre-or post-cruise land package in Hanoi, you will visit this beautiful bay and view some of these “emeralds” for yourself. Spend one night on board the Paradise Elegance, a ship made with all the modern- day conveniences, and explore the bay in style. During the day, you can also experience the tranquility of this natural wonder as you meditate on the sun deck, surrounded by the jade water of the bay and the karst formations that rise from its depths.
Explore Sung Sot Cave (also known as Surprise Cave), one of the largest caves along Ha Long Bay, and take in the impressive stalactites and stalagmites adorning the first chamber, lit by multicolor lights that highlight their structural beauty. Venture into the second chamber of the cave, nicknamed “Serene Castle,” to observe the massive rock formations that locals identify based on animals that share a similar shape.
Another highlight is Tuan Chau Island, the largest of the “emeralds” of Ha Long Bay. Guests can hike through the island’s natural beauty or relax at one of many of the island’s gorgeous beaches. Titop Island is also an amazing place to visit, and the top of the island provides an incredible view of Ha Long Bay.
Venture to “Descending Dragon” Bay by adding this optional land package to any of our Mekong River sailings.