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Vietnam's Halong Bay is a treasure, and experiencing it aboard a replica paddle-wheeler is beautiful

By Ed Rampell
Special to the Star-Advertiser

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Aug 03, 2014

After an hour of downhill and uphill hiking immersed in semidarkness, we finally emerge out of the bowels of Sung Sot Grotto, or Surprise Cave, into the sunlight, greeted by a sensational surprise: an eye-popping panorama from high over Halong Bay. We pause to absorb the otherworldliness of the panorama. Countless karsts — greenery-crowned limestone islets — and a flotilla of cruise ships, trawlers, junks and sampans sprawl across the 900-plus-square-mile bay on Vietnam's northeastern coast in the Tonkin Gulf. The fleet's crown jewel is the Emeraude, a steamer our tour group sets sail on for an overnight expedition to this spectacular spot. Halong Bay surely ranks among Earth's most beautiful places: It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and voted one of Earth's seven natural wonders by Zurich-based New7Wonders Foundation.

After an hour of downhill and uphill hiking immersed in semidarkness, we finally emerge out of the bowels of Sung Sot Grotto, or Surprise Cave, into the sunlight, greeted by a sensational surprise: an eye-popping panorama from high over Halong Bay. We pause to absorb the otherworldliness of the panorama. Countless karsts — greenery-crowned limestone islets — and a flotilla of cruise ships, trawlers, junks and sampans sprawl across the 900-plus-square-mile bay on Vietnam's northeastern coast in the Tonkin Gulf. The fleet's crown jewel is the Emeraude, a steamer our tour group sets sail on for an overnight expedition to this spectacular spot.

Halong Bay surely ranks among Earth's most beautiful places: It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and voted one of Earth's seven natural wonders by Zurich-based New7Wonders Foundation. Login for more...



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