Population: 82 million
Time zone: GMT +7 hours
Currency: Vietnamese dong
Int. dialling code: +84
"Halong Bay, off the Vietnamese coast, is one of the most breathtakingly tranquil and beautiful places I've ever visited. Take a day trip from Hanoi or stay overnight on Cat Ba Island to soak up the natural beauty of the bay's deep green sea and dramatic limestone islands."
The name of Halong bay is taken from ancient Vietnamese meaning "descending dragon". According to local legend the gods sent down dragons to help the Vietnamese repel Chinese invaders by spitting out jewels. The legend says that these jewels formed the islands and made a barrier against the Chinese. The dragons decided to stay on Earth and the place where the mother dragon descended is now known as Halong.
During the Vietnam war the area was heavily mined by the US navy and it remains a risk for shipping to this day.
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