Ha Long Bay - Cat Ba Archipelago: A World Natural Heritage Site

UNESCO designated Ha Long Bay as a World Heritage Site twice in 1994 and 2000. In 2004, Cat Ba Archipelago was recognized as a world biosphere reserve. On September 16, 2023, UNESCO officially recognized Ha Long Bay – Cat Ba Archipelago as the first inter-provincial World Heritage Site in Vietnam. This spectacular seascape includes about 1,600 small islands and islets, stretching across Quang Ninh province and Hai Phong city.

Cat Ba Archipelago is actually located in the southeastern edge of Lan Ha Bay, which is adjacent to Ha Long Bay. Lan Ha is also a favorite spot for tourists due to its similar landscape of Ha Long, but less crowded. Many travelers choose to extend their stay to experience this astonishing bay.
Ha Long Bay – Cat Ba Archipelago covers an area of 43,400 hectares and includes over 1,600 islands and islets, most of which are uninhabited and unaffected by human activities. It is an ideal model of a mature karst landscape developed during a warm and wet tropical climate, with a high level of naturalness and outstanding scenic beauty.

The site also boasts a rich diversity of island and ocean ecosystems, hosting a variety of rare and endemic plants and animals. It houses the country’s largest maritime forest with an area of more than 17,000 hectares, and is home to 4,910 species of flora and fauna, of which 198 species are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. One of the most notable species is the Cat Ba Langur (Trachypithecus poliocephalus), a critically endangered primate that is only found in Cat Ba Island. There are only about 60-70 individuals left in the wild.

Vooc Cat Ba on mountain

Ha Long Bay – Cat Ba Archipelago is not only a natural wonder but also a cultural treasure. It has a long history of human use and settlement, dating back to prehistoric times. It has witnessed many important events in the history of Vietnam, such as the resistance wars against foreign invaders. It also reflects the traditional values and lifestyles of the local communities, who have adapted to the harsh environment and preserved their cultural heritage.

The recognition of Ha Long Bay – Cat Ba Archipelago as a world natural heritage site is a great honor and a great responsibility for Vietnam. This affirms the international appreciation for the beauty and values of the site, as well as the efforts of Vietnam to protect and promote those. It also requires Vietnam to enhance its management and conservation measures, to ensure that the site maintains its integrity and authenticity, and to balance its development and preservation needs.

Ha Long Bay – Cat Ba Archipelago is a must-see destination for anyone who loves nature and culture. It offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors, who can enjoy the spectacular views, explore the diverse ecosystems, discover the rich history and culture, and support the local livelihoods. It is a place where nature and humanity coexist in harmony, and where heritage and innovation go hand in hand.

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