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Cruising Article –06/03/2011

Marvel at the majestic stone formations of Halong Bay

Asian cruise destinations

Halong Bay is one of the world's most unique natural features, wowing countless visitors every year with its spectacular rock formations scattered throughout a glistening turquoise inlet. You can see these amazing sights for yourself when you go on a Vietnam shore excursion as part of an exciting Asian cruise.

Situated in the northern part of the country, Halong Bay covers around 600 square miles and is filled with close to 2,000 towering stone islets. Most of these formations are concentrated in a small area at the core of the bay, clustering together to create an unforgettable sight. In fact, Halong Bay's unique natural landscape has led UNESCO to deem it a World Heritage Site.

One of the best ways to experience the majesty of this Vietnamese attraction is to go on a bay cruise on a junk. In addition to providing you with a great vantage point from which to see the famous limestone formations, these traditional Asian watercraft also offer a glimpse into the styles of another culture.

During your junk cruise, you will be able to see many of Halong Bay's most interested attractions. Soak up amazing views of the rocks, go for a swim in the warm waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, enjoy a fun kayaking excursion or even go rock climbing up the soaring stone towers. Here, you can also go spelunking in Thien Cung and Go Dao Caves, two colorful caverns located just off the bay.

Just as it is known for its natural beauty, Halong Bay is an attraction of cultural importance as well. In particular, famed 14th century poet King Le inscribed one of his most famous and beloved verses into the stone of one of the body of water's many rock pillars.

From Halong Bay, you can also take a 3.5-hour drive to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. This amazing city is full of exotic cultural attractions, making it ideal for those who want to learn more about the country's history and traditions. Top draws include the Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Ho Chi Minh Cottage, the Temple of Literature, the One Pillar Pagoda and Ngoc Son Temple. You may also choose to buy some great souvenirs in the "36 Streets" area, home of many of the city's merchants.