To the east of Hanoi, lies one of the most famous of Vietnam’s, and indeed the world's, natural wonders. Ha Long Bay is the largest example of marine ‘karst’ landscape on Earth, the formation of which began some five hundred million years ago, with over two thousand sculptural island formations covering an area of 1,500 square kilometres of the South China Sea.


In the Vietnamese language, Ha Long translates as the ‘bay of descending dragons’, and indeed, it is easy to see why, with its extraordinary natural features laid out like many clutches of Sea-dragon eggs, full of otherworldly mystery and offering fertile inspiration to awaken in the visitor the ancient creation myths of Vietnam’s culture.

At once stunning to behold, and more akin to a fantasy planet than more usual natural encounters, it is no surprise that film makers have often used its evocative mystery to enhance the portrayal their alien worlds.

Startlingly beautiful, the area is peppered with numerous outcrops and islands, only a few of which are inhabited. This vast marine topography has been prized over centuries for its truly remarkable forms and shapely appeal, which has earned its status as a wonder of the natural world.

Today the area attracts in excess of two million visitors annually and for modern visitors the easiest way to enjoy the many delights of the bay is to take a cruise and many different vessels from simple to unabashed luxury,  including replicas modelled after the imperial royal Junks of the Emperors of old, ply the waters with a variety of itineraries from single day trips to voyages lasting several days.

Longer excursions can penetrate well beyond the most accessible areas, and although accommodation is fairly basic, it is also possible to arrange a stay at Quan Lan Island, in the outer seascape of Bai Tu Long Bay.

Most ships carry kayaks on board, which enable you to sense the wonderful freedom of steering your own course around this amazing seascape.

Many millions of years in the making, rainfall and the persistent motion of the South China Sea have sculpted a delightful world of beautiful islets, sea-carved arches, hidden coves, caves and wonderful tiny beaches.

Human habitation in the bay stretches back some 7,000 years, and has always been focussed upon fishing, aquaculture and pearl farming.

Visitors today can still imbibe the essences of the traditional way of life, observing the complex interrelationships and adaptations of the seaborne communities here, as they go about their daily lives.

Among the most popular attractions are the caves Hang Dau Go (Grotto of the Wooden Stakes), Hang Sung So (the Surprise Cave), Ho Dong Tien (Grotto of the Fairy Lake), Dong Me Cung (Grotto of the Labyrinth) and Ho Ba Ham with its ‘three tunnel’ Lagoon.


Aside from, or in addition to, cruising the bay, it is also possible to stay on one of several inhabited islands, the largest and most developed of which is Cat Ba.

Here you can enjoy a beach stay and explore the beautiful National Park at the island’s core, which ensures the continuing survival of numerous wildlife species, many of which are critically endangered.

For many visitors, the stars of the show are the endemic Cat Ba Golden Langurs, one of the rarest primates on the planet, and clinging on the precipice of extinction.

The island is also home to the diminutive and rare Haivenu Orchid, from which our company name and logo are derived.

Despite the contemporary busyness of the bay, and the occasional resultant waves of diesel, flotsam and jetsam that modern tourism and trade inevitably engenders, Ha Long Bay is one of the world’s ‘must see’ attractions, and is also deservedly a premier hotspot on oceanic world cruise itineraries.