Exploring Vietnam’s Magnificent Kayaking Destinations

Ha Long Bay, Ba Be Lake and Tuyen Lam Lake are three perfect choices for sightseeing, relaxing and kayaking along the flows, which gives travelers more independence, and allows them to reach places that cannot be reached in cruise ships.

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Ha Long Bay Voted as One of the Most Spectacular Destinations in the World

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Tourist kayaking through a cave in Halong bay (Photo: Shutterstock)

Ha Long Bay is a breathtaking seascape comprised of approximately 1,600 limestone islands and islets jutting out from vibrant emerald waters. It serves as a remarkable testament to Earth’s history, as these limestone pillars are adorned with tropical greenery and boast a plethora of captivating karst grottoes, caves, and caverns. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, Ha Long Bay’s exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic significance have earned it this prestigious distinction. Furthermore, in the year 2000, it was once again acknowledged for its remarkable geomorphic features, serving as an undeniable billion-year-old testament to the planet’s formation.

Ha Long Bay is a truly remarkable destination that often goes unnoticed by many travelers. What sets it apart is its exceptional concentration of biodiversity, rich cultural heritage, and fascinating history. This makes Ha Long Bay a truly enchanting place, where visitors can immerse themselves in the vibrant essence of Vietnam.

According to the Sino-Vietnamese language, the term “Ha” translates to descending and “Long” signifies dragon. Hence, Ha Long Bay is essentially referred to as “the bay of the descending dragon,” combining ancient mythological beliefs and Vietnamese history. In popular usage, Halong is generally favored due to its longstanding reputation, although Ha Long remains the official name for the bay.

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Photo: Paradise cruise

Immerse yourself in the beauty of Ha Long Bay by embarking on a luxurious cruise through its lush green islands. Whether you choose a wooden junk or a cruise vessel, you will have the opportunity to admire the stunning serenity of the area from the comfort of your balcony, sun deck, or the front of the boat. Witness breathtaking sunrises and sunsets over the Bay, painted in shades of pink, orange, and plump, while inhaling the invigorating salty air that will rejuvenate your spirit.

Despite the possibility of rainy weather, Ha Long Bay’s beauty remains unparalleled. Even in inclement conditions and mist, the atmosphere takes on a soft and mysterious ambiance that evokes a sense of ancient history.

Kayaking is an essential and remarkable activity to experience in Halong Bay. It offers the best means to fully explore the bay’s wonders. By gliding through the water in a kayak, travelers gain a greater sense of independence and access to hidden gems that are beyond the reach of traditional cruise ships. Kayaking tours are widely available and offered by most Halong Bay cruises.

Kayaking Safety Tips

  • Always wear a life jacket: No matter how confident you are in your swimming abilities, it is important to wear a life jacket at all times while kayaking.
  • Check the weather conditions: Before heading out on your kayaking trip, make sure to check the weather forecast to ensure safe and enjoyable conditions.
  • Inform someone about your plans: It is important to let someone know about your kayaking plans, including your expected route and estimated return time.
  • Bring necessary safety gear: Along with a life jacket, you should also bring necessary safety gear such as a whistle, a paddle float, and a first aid kit.
  • Stay hydrated and apply sunscreen: Remember to drink plenty of water and apply sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s rays while kayaking.
  • Stay close to shore and avoid strong currents: To minimize risks, it is advisable to stay close to the shore and avoid areas with strong currents or rough waters.
  • Learn proper paddling techniques: Before going kayaking, it is recommended to learn and practice proper paddling techniques to ensure efficient and safe navigation.
  • Never kayak alone: Whenever possible, kayaking with a partner or a group is safer than going alone. In case of an emergency, there will be someone to help or seek assistance.
  • Be aware of water temperature: Depending on the location and season, water temperatures can be cold. Dress appropriately and be prepared for unexpected capsizing.
  • Have a plan for emergency situations: Familiarize yourself with different emergency scenarios and have a plan in place for how to respond to them.

Before participating in kayaking, it is important to properly warm up your body with some light movement. The last thing anyone wants is to experience a cramp while out on the water in a kayak.

Please pay close attention to the tour guide’s instructions regarding the route, timings, and rules.

Please ensure to wear a life-vest.

Please stay informed about the weather conditions, including tides, currents, and wind strength.

Please exercise caution and refrain from approaching cliffs, caves, and rocks.

Important Safety Warning: It is imperative that you refrain from kayaking while under the influence of alcohol or any intoxicating substances. Such reckless behavior is extremely hazardous and should be avoided at all costs. The potential dangers associated with impaired judgment and impaired motor skills far outweigh any momentary enjoyment. Your well-being and life are more valuable than any temporary thrill. Prioritize your safety and the safety of others by making responsible decisions.

Please ensure proper form when holding the oar. Hold the oar with your arms at shoulder-width apart, ensuring the concave sides are facing away from you.

Discovering Tuyen Lam Lake – A Miniature Paradise

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Photo: Phuongnguyen

Tuyen Lam Lake, with its pristine charm, often deceives visitors as a natural lake. However, it is worth noting that this picturesque body of water is actually an artificial lake, constructed in the 1930s and stumbled upon by a French farmer named Farraut. Set against the majestic backdrop of Elephant Mountain and linked to the serene Purple Stream, Tuyen Lam Lake offers a truly enchanting experience.

During the resistance against the United States army, there was a covert base of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam army located near Tuyen Lam Lake, known as the Quang Trung Area. This designation was bestowed in honor of General Quang Trung, a highly skilled military leader in Vietnam’s feudal history.

In 1987, a dam was erected across Purple Stream in Duc Trong District to provide water for hundreds of hectares of rice fields. This resulted in the creation of Tuyen Lam Lake, as it is known today. The name “Tuyen” signifies “stream” and “Lam” stands for “forest”. Tuyen Lam Lake serves as a picturesque meeting point for water, forest, and sky, forming a magnificent fusion of nature and life amidst the vast mountainous region.

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Photo: Tour Dalat

To access the enchanting maple leaf forest, one must embark on a tranquil kayaking journey. This immersive experience allows visitors to intimately connect with nature’s wonders. Glide across the serene waters of Tuyen Lam Lake and marvel at the picturesque landscape adorned with diverse and lavish vegetation. Each stroke of the paddle brings you closer to a breathtaking autumnal vista, reminiscent of the famed beauty of Dalat.

Immerse yourself in the beauty of autumn as you explore Vietnam’s vibrant maple forests. Experience the enchantment of vibrant red streets reminiscent of Japan’s autumn landscapes. As you navigate through the serene waters on your kayak, the first maple leaf will captivate your gaze. Venture deeper into the forest and be amazed at the breathtaking sight of the sky adorned with a canopy of red maple leaves. The forest comes alive with a spectrum of colors, from striking reds to golden yellows and vibrant oranges, transforming every branch into a work of art. Let this awe-inspiring experience rejuvenate your spirit after a satisfying day of kayaking.

Exploring the Natural Beauty of Ba Be Lake in Ha Giang Province

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Photo: Babenationalpark

To embark on a captivating sightseeing tour of the northeast region, a truly enchanting starting point is none other than Ba Be National Park situated in Ba Be District, Bac Kan Province. This extraordinary destination offers an abundance of opportunities to explore its vast array of flora and fauna, encompassing numerous captivating butterfly species. Moreover, visitors will have the chance to unravel fascinating geology and picturesque landscapes within the park.

One of the most captivating ways to explore the area upon arrival is by boat, with three lakes to choose from. For the adventurous, kayaks are available, while guided motor boat tours are a great option for those seeking relaxation. Ba Be National Park has garnered immense attention and acclaim, appearing in numerous newspapers, magazines, forums, and blogs. However, nothing can compare to the firsthand experience of breathtaking landscapes and crystal-clear waters. The lakes boast a myriad of attractions, including waterfalls, rivers, valleys, lakes, and caves, all nestled amidst picturesque scenery. In addition to Ba Be Lake, visitors can also venture to nearby attractions such as Dau Dang Fall, Puong Cave, and Tien Pond.

The lake is actually a combination of three small lakes: Pe Lam, Pe Lu, and Pe Leng. It was designated as a national preserved forest and tourist center in 1978, and later became Vietnam’s eighth national park in 1992. Most recently, it has been recognized by UNESCO as the third Ramsar site in Vietnam, signifying its importance as a wetland. Situated 145 meters above sea level, the lake has an average depth of 20-25 meters and reaches its deepest point at 35 meters. The lake bed is composed of limestone, providing a suitable habitat for a wide variety of marine life. In fact, over a hundred species of freshwater fish can be found in these lakes.

Ba Be Lake is nestled in the midst of the expansive limestone mountain range of Ba Be National Park. This scenic destination boasts of numerous limestone islands that emerge from the clear waters, providing a captivating experience for kayaking enthusiasts. Additionally, the area is home to a variety of caves, showcasing exquisite rock formations that have taken shape over millions of years. One noteworthy cave is Puong Cave, where the Nang river gracefully flows under magnificent limestone structures. With a width of 30 meters and a depth of 300 meters, Puong Cave houses innumerable stalactite and stalagmite formations, along with a thriving bat colony of tens of thousands. The visually striking entrance to Puong Cave is situated in the northeastern part of Ba Be Lake, nestled within the enchanting hillside of the Lung Nham Range.