Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site has been ranked the 2nd among the 10 best boat journeys by the UK’s Lonely Planet Travel Magazine.
"Bobbing on the emerald waters of Halong Bay and moving through its 3000-odd limestone islands is simply sublime.
The tiny islands are dotted with beaches and grottoes created by wind and waves, and have sparsely forested slopes ringing with bird tunes.
There are more than 300 boats based at Bai Chay Tourist Wharf waiting to sweep you away to the World Heritage waters.
Day tours last from four to eight hours, though (recommended) overnighters are also available” the magazine written.
Norwegian Fjords gets the first place.
Next positions are Amazon River, South America; Franklin River, Australia; Quetico Provincial Park, Canada; Kerala’s backwaters, India; Milford Sound, New Zealand; Island-hopping, Greece; Disko Bay, Greenland; and Galapágos Islands, Ecuador.
Ha Long Bay is a popular travel destination in the Northern Province of Quang Ninh. Covering on an area of around 1,553 km2, the hot tourist spot has including 1,969 islets, most of which are limestone.
In 1994, Ha Long Bay was recognized as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site. It has jumped to second place among the 28 finalists of an online voting for the world’s new seven wonders and helping to bring 5.3 million visitors to Quang Ninh in the first eight months of the year.
"Halong Bay is so much more compelling when it’s not a passive experience,” said Kurt Walter, group general manager of Apple Tree Group Hospitality. “Yes, it’s one of the most magnificent seascapes you’ve ever seen, but when you get out into it, with a paddle in your hands, or your hands on the grit of these limestone karsts, then you’ve just gained a whole new dimension of experience.”
The new soft adventure program is managed by Slo Pony Adventures, a Vietnam-based travel company run by Onslo Carrington and Erik Ferjentsik, two American-trained outdoor enthusiasts. Participants can book the soft adventure of their choice independently, or as part of a group effort.
For rock climbers, Slo Pony is cultivating 20 different venues around the bay, including the Polish Pillar, a karts that exemplifies the bay’s fantastic limestone formations.
Most climbing for beginners and intermediates takes place at Moody’s Beach, where a two-faced crag is laced with easy-to-moderate routes.
“No matter how intimidating the prospect of rock climbing may seem for some, especially among formations as otherworldly as Halong Bay’s, the experience we’re promoting is accessible to anyone,” said Onslo Carrington. “If you can walk up a flight of stairs, you can climb!”
On Cat Ba Island, Slo Pony leads trekkers through Butterfly Valley in the National Park. Here the experience is less predictable but serendipitous with waterfalls, exotic wildlife, rainbows and spectacular views. On the bay itself, Slo Pony’s kayak guides steer Emeraude passengers to deserted beaches and in and out of myriad lagoons.
“As a destination, Halong Bay is one of the most amazing backdrops to an adventure, and always has been,” said Walter. “But we’ve always thought it’s more than a backdrop. What we want to do is put these karsts in the foreground of everyone’s memory of Halong Bay.”