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Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Off the Gulf of Tonkin in northern Vietnam, you'll find remote beaches, mangrove forests, and stunning grottoes.

Boat carrying produce on Ha Long Bay near Gulf of Tonkin in northern Vietnam, image
Photo caption
Ha Long Bay harbors floating villages and thousands of limestone outcroppings.

Otherworldly outcroppings jut from the water at odd angles, monolithic islands topped by impossibly green, almost entirely inaccessible jungle. Thousands of these limestone karsts, shaped over millennia by the warm, wet climate of Ha Long Bay, dot this corner of the Gulf of Tonkin in northern Vietnam. A determined kayaker can navigate crag fissures to emerge in lagoons otherwise cut off from the world outside. Here, rhesus monkeys and black kites populate mangrove forests, looking down curiously on their rare human visitors.

In floating villages nearby, children play atop bobbing wooden platforms as if at a public park. Which, in a way, they are. Ha Long Bay, from its remote beaches to its stunning grottoes, is a natural playground unlike any other.

AAA can help you see Ha Long Bay—or nearly anyplace else in the world. For more information, visit your nearest AAA branch.

Photography by Scott Stulberg/Corbis.

This article was first published in May 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.