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Hạ Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site off the Northeast coast of Việt Nam. Consisting of thousands of oddly shaped islets of limestone karst, with some containing sizable caves, over an area of 600 mi² (1553 km²), Hạ Long, which means Descending Dragon, has been called one of the wonders of the world.

We only took a one-day tour to Hạ Long Bay: a 4-hour bus ride from Hà Nội to Tuần Châu island where we boarded a boat for a 4-hour cruise, then back to the capital. Given the circumstances, it was good enough, but Hạ Long Bay definitely requires a much longer visit. It has become more developed in recent years, and now boasts plush, a la Club Med facilities on remote islands while more bridges and docks are being built to accommodate the increasing road and maritime traffic. There is even a seaplane for those interested in getting a bird’s eye view of the bay.

The bus trip had a half-way rest stop in the province of Hải Dương at a giant store filled with gift merchandise. There was also a shop where workers, some disabled, were busy creating pieces of embroidery art.

Embroidery worker.

Embroidery worker.

Below are two of their creations.

Embroidery art for sale.

Embroidery art for sale.

Embroidery art for sale.

Embroidery art for sale.

The weather was not cooperating that day, with thick clouds and an occasional drizzle. Yet the following shots will still give you an idea of what can be seen in Hạ Long Bay.

Karst rock formation near shore.

Karst rock formation near shore.

Fighting Roosters is the name of this formation.

Fighting Roosters is the name of this formation.

Kayaks and boats were available rentals for exploring close to the islets.

Kayaks and boats were available rentals for exploring close to the islets.

Boaters and kayakers off to explore islets and caves.

Boaters and kayakers off to explore islets and caves.

Entire families live on boats like these.

Entire families live on boats like these.

Boat owner waiting for tourists.

Boat owner waiting for tourists.

A challenge to rock climbers?

A challenge to rock climbers?

Inside a cave named Đầu Gỗ discovered by the French in late 19th century.

Inside a cave named Đầu Gỗ discovered by the French in late 19th century. They called it Grotte des Merveilles (Cave of Marvels).

Inside Đầu Gỗ cave.

Inside Đầu Gỗ cave.

Cruise boats at Đầu Gỗ island.

Cruise boats at Đầu Gỗ island.

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