Ha Long (literally: Descending Dragon) Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Quang Ninh province. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes. Ha Long Bay is a center of a larger zone which includes Bai Tu Long bay to the northeast, and Cat Ba islands to the southwest. These larger zones share similar geological, geographical, geomorphological, climate and cultural characters. Ha Long Bay has an area of around 1,553 km², incuding 1,960 islets, most of which are limestone.
Historical research surveys have shown the presence of prehistorical human beings in this area ten of thousands years ago. Nowadays, Ha Long Bay is one of the most popular travel destinations in Vietnam.
500 years ago, Nguyen Trai praised the beauty of Ha Long Bay in his verse Lo Nhap Van Don, in which he called it "rock wonder in the sky". In 1994 the core zone of Ha Long Bay was listed by UNESCO in its World Heritage Sites. Together with Nha Trang Bay and Lang Co of Vietnam, Ha Long Bay is recognized as one of the most beautiful bays of the world.
Local legend has it that long ago, when the Vietnamese were fighting invaders, the gods sent a family of dragons to help defend the land. This family of dragons began spitting out jewels and jade. These jewels turned into the islands and islets dotting the bay, linking together to form a great wall against the invaders. The people kept their land safe and formed what later became the country of Vietnam. After that, dragons were interested in peaceful sightseeing of the earth and then decided to live here. The place where Mother Dragon flew down was named Ha Long, the place where the dragon children attended upon their mother was called Bai Tu Long island (Bai: attend upon, Tu: children, Long: dragon), and the place where the dragon children wriggled their tails violently was called Bach Long Vy island (Bach: white - colour of the foam made when Children Dragon wriggle, Long: dragon, Vy: tail).
The most remarkable geological events of Ha Long Bay’s history in the last 1,000 years include the advance of the sea, the raising of the bay area and the strong erosion that has formed coral and pure blue and heavily salted water. This process of erosion by seawater has deeply engraved the stone, contributing to its fantastic beauty. Present-day Ha Long Bay is the result of this long process of geological evolution that has been influenced by so many factors.
It is because of all these factors that 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.
A community of around 1600 people live on Ha Long Bay in fishing villages. They live on floating houses and are sustained by capture fishing and marine aquaculture (cultivating marine biota).
Seafood in Ha Long is diversified. Cuttlefish, oyster, cyclinae, prawn (penaeidea, panulirus, parapenaeopsis...), sipunculoideas, nerita, charonia tritonis are among the varieties appearing in popular local dishes.