Halong Bay: In Pictures

According to legend, Halong Bay, which means "bay of the descending dragon", was created when a family of dragons, sent by the gods, spat jewels and jade into the sea to form a fortress against invaders from the north. After thousands of years, the jewels turned into island and islets of different sizes and shapes.

Fighting Cock Island (Trong Mai Islet) is about 5 km from Bai Chay tourist wharf and is one of the first wonders many visitors will see when cruising Halong Bay. Trong May gets its name because the limestone rock formations look like two roosters fighting.

Teapot Islet (Am Islet) is said to be the teapot of the Jade Emperor, who accidentally dropped it into Halong Bay, breaking its handle.

Stone Dog Islet (Cho Da Islet) is about 8m high and looks like a giant stone dog keeping watch - a familiar image outside temples and old houses in Vietnam.

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From a distance, Toad Islet (Con Coc Islet) is said to look like a big toad, waiting for the rain in the middle of the sea. According to Vietnamese legend, a brave toad led a group of animals to meet God during a massive drought and asked for rain. The toad was honoured as the uncle of God. When the toad grinds its teeth, it is supposed to bring rain.

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Junk boat operators organise various activities for guests in Halong Bay, one being a trek to Thien Canh Son Cave at Bai Tu Long Bay. There are three underground caverns, each carpeted with stalactites and stalagmites. It is one of around 60 caves and grottos in Halong Bay.

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After exploring the cave, take a dip at the beach outside.The waters at Bai Tu Long Bay are clean and inviting.

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A highlight for many junk boat guests is kayaking around the tranquil waters of Halong Bay. It's a great way to explore the maze-like landscape with its hidden caves, tunnels and beaches.

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Despite the influx cruise boats every day, there are actually hundreds of local people who go about their daily lives in Halong Bay. The largest fishing village in Halong Bay is Cua Van, with a population of 733 and 176 households.

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Sunrise and sunset is magical in Halong Bay.

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Perched 250m above sea level, the Sun Wheel at Bai Chay tourist wharf (where the junk cruise boats depart) is one of the world's highest revolving sightseeing wheels. It's part of the Sun World Halong Park amusement precinct at Ba Deo Mountain, and includes a cable car with sweeping views of Halong Bay.

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