|Upon arriving in Ha Long city, the visitor will be driving along 'Bai Chay' or scorched beach. The sand on this stretch of beach is dark. And judging by the name the visitors may mistakenly think that this is due to the dry climate or lack of wind in this area. However, contrary to this interpretation, the area is quite pleasant during the summer and fall months and the temperature here is around 70 deg F. According to the locals, Bai Chay got its name long ago, based on another historical event|
. Bai Chay was once a forest. In 1287, the Mongols led by the great Truong Van Ho,(a Vietnamese name for this Mongolian general) attacked Vietnam and was driven back by general Tran Khanh Du. Many Mongolian ships were set afire and drifted to shore aided by high wind setting the forest on fire. Since then this stretch of beach became known as Bai Chay or scorched beach.
From Bai Chay, visitors can hire a boat and go out to the bay. It is here that visitors will be find some of Southeast Asias most fascinating sites. Visitors to the bay speak highly of its almost mystical qualities and the surrealistic scenery that defines this bay. The limestone formations are both bizarre and awesome. Over thousands of years the base of many of the formation have corroded to a point where many seem to be balancing on thin air. The shapes and the positioning of these formations often resemble people, animals etc., hence, most are given a name by the locals. Some of the more famous are: Hang Dau Go ( Wooden Stakes cave), Hang Bo Nau (Pelican cave), Hang Trinh Nu (the Virgin), Hang Sung Sot (Cave of Awe), Dong Hang Hanh, Dao Tuan Chau (Sentinel Chau Island), Qua Chuong (the bell), Con Voi (the elephant) etc.. Now, about one thousand formations have names. One can't possibly see all of Ha Long grandeur in one day or even a month since depending on the time of the year, the weather, or the condition of the bay the visitor may see only one small aspect of Ha Long's beauty (see map of scenic sites).