Vietnam: Places to Explore

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Halong Bay

A visit to the north is not complete without a trip to Halong Bay, where placid waters give way to more than 3,000 limestone karsts and wind-sculpted limestone formations jut from foggy lagoons. Dotting the bay are tiny islands bordered by white sandy coves and hidden caves, adding to the majestic landscape of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Adding to this naturalist's dream is the biodiversity of islets, grottos, and Cat Ba Island national park. The bay, however, shows tourism's impact: the clearing of mangrove forests to make way for jetties and piers, marine life threatened by game fishing, and garbage from passenger boats and fishing villages found lining the shores.

Beyond its geological uniqueness are activities like hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, or exploring one of the many floating villages where fishermen bring in their daily catch. The downside to all this allure is the mass number of unlicensed boats it draws to the bay each day.

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