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Postcard: Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

This Unesco World Heritage Site draws sightseers worldwide to its dreamy blue waters and limestone outcroppings filled with grottoes, caves, and exotic wildlife.

ferry boats on Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, picture
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Photo: Photicon/Alamy
Photo caption
Ferry boats on Ha Long Bay.

A towering rock garden set in a blue ocean, or a dreamworld where islands somehow float? Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, is an impossible vision you can visit in real life.

Whether you're traveling by kayak or cruise ship, you could spend days darting among at least 1,500 islands and islets and not come close to seeing them all. These limestone outcroppings, along with caves and grottoes that dot the region, draw sightseers from around the world.

Many of the rocks sport patches of rain forest complete with red-haired monkeys and other wildlife. One of the region's largest islands, Cat Ba, is home to Cat Ba National Park, a refuge for endangered langur monkeys, civet cats, hornbill birds, and 29 different species of bats.

On Bo Hon Island, tour groups walk past the giant stalactites of Sung Sot cave as sunbeams pour through a natural skylight. Along the shores of many islands, you can see the red-tiled roofs and brightly painted wooden houses of traditional floating fishing villages. A Unesco World Heritage site, Ha Long Bay will beckon generations of island hoppers to come.

This article was first published in July/August 2017. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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