7 Natural Wonders of the World: Halong Bay and Beyond

Halong Bay – New Seven Wonders of Nature

Ha Long Bay is one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature

2011 Ha Long Bay was elected as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. This prestigious list includes some of the most extraordinary natural sites globally. Alongside Halong Bay, the list features Komodo Island in Indonesia, known for its unique wildlife; Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, celebrated for its iconic flat-topped peaks; The Amazon, encompassing both the Amazon River and Rainforest in South America, renowned for its vast biodiversity; Iguazu Falls, straddling the border of Argentina and Brazil in South America, famous for its massive waterfalls; The Puerto Princesa Underground River in the Philippines, noted for its impressive cave systems; and Jeju Island in South Korea, known for its volcanic landscapes and serene beauty.

Of course, each natural wonder is an incredible place to visit. From the tropical beaches of Komodo National Park to the raw power of Iguazu, they give visitors unique experiences they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. The seven wonders were selected based on an exhaustive voting process polling millions of people from 2007 to 2011. Like all natural wonders, Ha Long Bay is officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

What is UNESCO?

UNESCO: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, plays a critical role in recognizing and preserving such sites. It’s dedicated to protecting and maintaining the world’s significant cultural and natural heritage. Being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, like Halong Bay, signifies a location of exceptional value to humanity, warranting preservation for future generations.

Experiencing a UNESCO World Heritage Site is undoubtedly an incredible experience during your travels, and Vietnam is home to 8 such sites waiting to be explored. Starting with Ha Long Bay, there are many other amazing wonders to discover in Vietnam. This guide will help you explore these magnificent sites if you visit Vietnam.

The 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Vietnam

Halong Bay may be the most famous of the wonders in Vietnam, but it has some others. In fact, there are eight World Heritage Sites in Vietnam. They are:

UNESCO World Heritage Site Locations in North Vietnam

  1. Halong Bay, Quang Ninh Province.
  2. Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, Hanoi. This citadel encompasses archaeological remnants of a cultural complex from the 11th century.
  3. Citadel of the Ho Dynasty, Thanh Hoa Province. The remains of a 14th-century fortified capital exemplify innovative architecture and strategic military design.
  4. Trang An Landscape Complex, Ninh Binh Province. A breathtaking landscape of karst formations, caves, and temples is explored through scenic boat rides along thin rivers.

UNESCO World Heritage Site Locations in Central Vietnam

  1. Complex of Hue Monuments, Hue City. This site embodies Vietnam’s imperial past, showcasing a collection of the Nguyen Dynasty’s palaces, temples, and tombs.
  2. Hoi An Ancient Town, Quang Nam Province. An enchanting fusion of cultures and architectures, this riverside town exudes a well-preserved blend of Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese influences.
  3. My Son Sanctuary, Quang Nam Province. A mesmerizing archaeological site with Hindu temple ruins that date back to the Champa Kingdom.
  4. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Quang Binh Province. A pristine and expansive park boasting immense karst landscapes, underground rivers, and remarkable cave systems, including the largest cave in the world, Son Doong Cave.
Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park

An itinerary that starts in Hanoi winds through Halong Bay and proceeds to lead you through every UNESCO World Heritage Site in northern and central Vietnam. It is a fantastic way to experience the country’s ancient heritage and beauty. Get more inspiration with this guide to building a North-to-south itinerary for Vietnam.

Learn all about Ha Long Bay: Your Journey Starts Here!

7 natural wonders of the world halong bay
Things to know about Ha Long Bay

Massive rock formations jut out of the dreamy blue water like sleeping goliaths in Ha Long Bay and its quieter neighbor, Bai Tu Long Bay. Atop the backs of those striking karst formations and limestone islands are lush layers of silky greenery.

The result looks at once like it was ripped from the prehistoric age and straight from a sci-fi epic (think Jurassic World crossed with Avatar). Floating fishing village communities ring the Titanic bays, making the areas feel warm and communal despite their isolated natural setting.

The natural wonders of the bays don’t stop there, either. Float closer to the individual stone outcroppings; you’ll find they almost all hold hidden gems. Some look like solid rocks but are home to massive caves, such as Trinh Nu Cave or Sung Sot Cave, among the most famous. Others are world-class rock climbing destinations where particularly adventurous souls climb without ropes and fall into the Bay below if their grip fails. Many of them are gorgeous limestone islands with some of the most pristine beaches in Vietnam ringing the stone. 

Since Ha Long Bay features thousands of outcroppings, there’s no end to exploration there.

In short, Ha Long Bay is an utterly transfixing sight that is more than worthy of its title as one of the New Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Visiting Ha Long Bay (or any of the Natural Wonders of the World, for that matter) is an opportunity most people will only ever dream of, so you owe it to yourself and whoever you’re traveling with to snatch up the chance when you’re in Vietnam or the surrounding area.

Getting to Ha Long Bay

You can take a private shuttle service from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay.

Given how remote it feels, Ha Long Bay is only 2.5 hours away from the center of Hanoi by car or taxi. The most popular way to get to Ha Long Bay is to fly into Hanoi International Airport and take the private shuttle Halong Hub provides to its luxury cruise guests. The shuttle will take you directly from your hotel in Hanoi to Tuan Chau Pier, the departure point for nearly all cruises for Ha Long Bay and the surrounding areas.

Along the route from Hanoi to Ha Long, you’ll see the Red River Delta countryside, Hai Phong Province, and the suburbs of Hai Phong City. Ha Long City, next to the Bay, is also a lovely beach town to explore for an afternoon if you have time.

The Best Way to See Halong Bay

Kayaking in Ha Long Bay

It is only fitting that Halong Bay, one of the most beautiful places in the natural world, be explored by one of the most beautiful vessels possible: a luxury cruise ship. The luxury cruises on Halong Bay offer visitors a way to immerse themselves in the deep blues and greens of the Bay while enjoying lavish comfort. Add some authentic Vietnamese culture into the mix, and you’ve got a northern Vietnamese experience so lovely it’s almost surreal.

For example, some of Halong Hub’s luxury cruises offer:

  • Local cultural experiences like morning Tai Chi on the boat deck or traditional Vietnamese tea ceremonies.
  • You can savor five-star food and drinks in the restaurant or on the deck as you watch the stone goliaths of the Bay drift by.
  • Luxury relaxation activities like hot stone massages or scented baths.
  • Offboard excursions to the caves and fishing villages dotting Halong Bay.
  • Guided aquatic activities like swimming and kayaking in the crystal blue waters of the Bay.
  • Romantic activities like candle-lit dinners in the wine cellar for couples or fun activities like onboard mini golf for families.
  • Exploration of the areas surrounding Halong Bay, like Lan Ha Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay, Van Don Island District, and Cat Ba Island.
La Regina Royal cruise

If there’s one time to treat yourself to a five-star experience, it’s during your adventure to see one of the Natural Wonders of the World. Luckily, we can help you achieve peak luxury during your Halong Bay experience without overspending – our luxury cruises range from only $136 per night for the La Regina Royal Cruise and stretch all the way up to the decadent Emperor Cruise on Bai Tu Long Bay for $295 per night.

The Wonders of Halong Bay Are Waiting…

Wonderful Halong Bay is not only one of the most beautiful places on Earth but also a fantastic opportunity to experience the most luxurious experiences Vietnam offers. We hope you experience all seven natural wonders of the world at some point, but we’d like to get you started on that journey with a bang!

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