Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay, in the Gulf of Tonkin, includes some 1,600 islands and islets, forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars. Because of their precipitous nature, most of the islands are uninhabited and unaffected by a human presence. The site's outstanding scenic beauty is complemented by its great biological interest.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Baie d'Ha-Long

La baie d'Ha-Long, dans le golfe du Tonkin, compte environ 1 600 îles et îlots qui créent un paysage marin spectaculaire de piliers de calcaire. En raison du relief vertigineux, la plupart des îles sont inhabitées et non perturbées par l'homme. Les valeurs esthétiques exceptionnelles de ce site sont complétées par son grand intérêt biologique.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

خليج هالونغ

يتضمن خليج هالونغ في خليج تونكين حوالى 1600جزيرة صغيرة تشكل منظراً بحرياً رائعاً من الركائز الكلسية. ونظراً لتضاريسها الشاهقة، تخلو معظم هذه الجزر من السكان وتبقى بمنأى عن عبث يد الإنسان، بينما تكتمل القيمة الجمالية الاستثنائية لهذا الموقع بأهميته البيولوجية الكبيرة.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0



source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Бухта Ха-Лонг

Бухта в Тонкинском заливе Ха-Лонг имеет живописнейший приморский ландшафт благодаря разбросанным на мелководье скалистым известняковым островкам (в количестве около 1,6 тысяч). Из-за неприступного рельефа почти все островки необитаемы и не затронуты человеческим влиянием. Исключительная эстетичность этой местности сочетается с ее биологической ценностью.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Bahía de Ha Long

Situada en el golfo de Tonkín, la bahía de Ha Long cuenta con unas 1.600 islas e islotes que forman un espectacular paisaje marítimo de pilares calcáreos. Debido a su escarpado relieve, la mayoría de esas islas están deshabitadas y su naturaleza no se ha visto nunca alterada por la presencia del hombre. Además de su excepcional valor estético, este sitio presenta un gran interés en el plano biológico.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0


source: NFUAJ

Ha Long-baai

De Ha Long-baai ligt in de Golf van Tonkin en omvat zo’n 1.600 eilanden en eilandjes. Samen bieden ze een spectaculair zeeaanzicht van kalksteenpilaren. Vanwege hun steile karakter zijn de meeste van de eilanden onbewoond en ongerept. Doordat de zee herhaaldelijk de kalksteenkarst overspoelt en weer drooglegt, is er in de loop van de tijd een volwaardig landschap ontstaan van conische pieken (Fengcong) en geïsoleerde torens (Fenglin). De baai ligt in een erg toeristisch gebied. Naast deze industrie bestaat de economie uit zeetransport, visserij en eigen handel. Bij alle activiteiten wordt er streng gecontroleerd op de effecten ervan op de (natuurlijke) omgeving.

Source: unesco.nl

Ha Long Bay (Viet Nam) © Lionel Lalaité
Outstanding Universal Value
Brief synthesis

Ha Long Bay, located in the Gulf of Tonkin, within Quang Ninh Province, in the northeast of Vietnam, is165 km from the capital of Ha Noi. Covering an area of 43,400 ha and including over 1600 islands and islets, most of which are uninhabitated and unaffected by humans, it forms a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars and is an ideal model of a mature Karst landscape developed during a warm and wet tropical climate. The property’s exceptional scenic beauty is complemented by its great biological interest.

The outstanding value of the property is centered around the drowned limestone karst landforms, displaying spectacular pillars with a variety of coastal erosional features such as arches and caves which form a majestic natural scenery. The repeated regression and transgression of the sea on the limestone karst over geological time has produced a mature landscape of clusters of conical peaks and isolated towers which were modified by sea invasion, adding an extra elemant to the process of lateral undercutting of the limstone towers and islands.

Criterion (vii): Comprised of a multitude of limestone islands and islets rising from the sea, in a variety of sizes and shapes and presenting picturesque, unspoiled nature, Ha Long Bay is a spectacular seascape sculpted by nature. The property retains a high level of naturalness, and despite its long history of human use,  is not seriously degraded. Outstanding features of the property include the magnificent towering limestone pillars and associated notches, arches and caves, which are exceptionally well-developed and among the best presented of their type in the world.

Criterion (viii): As the most extensive and best known example of marine-invaded tower karst in the world Ha Long Bay is one of the world’s most important areas of Fengcong (clusters of conical peaks) and Fenglin (isolated tower features) karst. Abundant lakes, occupying drowned dolines, are one of the distinctive features of the Fencong karst, with some appearing to be tidal. Possessing a tremendous diversity of caves and other landforms derived from the unusual geomorphological process of marine invaded tower karst the caves are of three main types: remnants of phreatic caves; old karstic foot caves and marine notch caves. The property also displays the full range of karst formation processes on a very large scale and over a very long period of geological time, possessing the most complete and extensive exzample of its type in the world and providing a unique and extensive reservoir of data for the future understanding of geoclimatic history and the nature of karst processes in a complex environment.


All elements necessary to sufficiently protect the outstanding scenic and geological values of the Ha Long Bay property are included within the boundaries of the property and its size and area provide sufficient integrity for the large scale geomorphological processes to operate unhindered. It benefits from being completely surrounded by a large and extensive buffer zone with both the size and area providing sufficient integrity for the large scale geomorphic processes to operate unhindered.

Located within an area of high tourism, marine transport, fisheries and the daily activities of people living and conducting their business on Ha Long Bay, management of the area, instituted since inscription of the property, applies strict regulation and control of activities in an attempt to minimize impacts on the integrity of the property. There is a continuing challenge to improve the integrity and quality of the environment. The natural scenic features, geomorphology, landform values and cultural heritage along with key features such as islands, caves and grottoes remain intact and the property retains a high level of naturalness despite the long history of human use in the area.

Protection and management requirements

Ha Long Bay was established as a historical and cultural relict and classified as a National Landscape Site in 1962. Subsequently designated as a Special National Landscape Site under the Cultural Heritage Law amended in 2009, land tenure is held by the Provincial Government. The property is protected effectively by a number of relevant provincial  and national laws as well as governmental decrees including; the Cultural Heritage Law, the Bio-Diversity Law, the Tourism Law, the Environmental Protection Law, the Fishery Law and Marine Transport Law. Under these laws, any proposed action within the property that could have significant impact on the property’s values must have official approval from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, along with other relevant ministries.

The Ha Long Bay Management Department was established after the inscription of Ha Long Bay on the World Heritage List, with the main functions of management, conservation and promotion of the property’s values. The Department takes into account the requirements of the World Heritage Convention, recommendations of the World Heritage Committee and other regulations issued by both the Vietnamese Government and the Quang Ninh Province. Day-to-day management involves collaboration with various relevant stakeholders at different levels, especially local communities, to maintain the integrity of the property and monitor socio-economic activities. 

Socio-economic activities on Ha Long Bay are well regulated, carefully observed and effectively managed. Management and protection are further strengthened through regulations, master planning, and action plans at the provincial level. These include regulations on operation of tourist boats, mud dredging, land filling, fishermen and floating house management. They also provide for education and promotion, and enhancing community awareness of heritage values and their protection. There are several specific plans dealing with environmental protection, tourism development and management and conservation planning. These include Ha Long Bay to 2020, the master plan on conservation, management and development of the values of World Natural Heritage approved by the Prime Minister in 2001, and the Comprehensive Management Plan for the Ha Long Bay World Heritage Site 2010 - 2015 approved by the provincial authority in 2010. 

In the long-term, management of the property will focus on: ensuring the integrity of the scenic, geological and geomorphologic values, as well as the property’s environment; strengthening the legislative provisions; carefully monitoring of the socio-economic activities on Ha Long Bay; increasing the use of technology in heritage management; undertaking research to gain better understanding of the property’s  values; improving the staff capacity and enhancing community awareness and involvement.

Increasing visitor numbers and associated impacts continue to impact on the management of the property. The sensitivity, aesthetic quality and attention to public safety of infrastructure such as pathways, steps and boardwalks is of a high standard and with steadily increasing visitor numbers the quality of visitor management is also steadily improving. Development pressures associated with growing tourist numbers continue to be an issue for government authorities and an appropriate balance between conservation and development, while difficult to maintain, is important to ensure the protection of the natural values of the property.