The South China Morning Post includes Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay in its latest list of 10 most popular Asian attractions.
Citing data collected by leading airport bus company Hoppa, the newspaper said the UNESCO heritage site in the northern province of Quang Ninh came in fifth among 10 most popular Asian gems, which was topped by the Great Wall of China.
Mount Fuji in Japan came in second on the top 10 list, followed by China’s Forbidden City and India’s Taj Mahal. The rest were: Mount Everest in Nepal and Tibet; Angkor Wat in Cambodia; Komodo Island in Indonesia; The Grand Palace in Bangkok; and Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai.
Around 5.2 million foreigners visited Ha Long Bay last year, up 22 percent from a year ago, accounting for 30 percent of the 15.6 million foreign tourist arrivals to Vietnam.
The boom in foreign tourists in Ha Long is attributed to major infrastructural improvements that have made it easier for foreigners to visit the world-famous bay, according to SCMP.
Last December, Van Don International Airport, 50 kilometers away from Ha Long Bay, was officially put into operation, providing foreign tourists with easier access. Van Don is Vietnam's first private airport.
Vietnam’s newest airline Bamboo Airways recently said it is considering a plan to bring tourists from Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan to the UNESCO heritage site via the airport.
A new expressway connecting the Hanoi-Hai Phong Expressway with Ha Long, opened to traffic last September, reduces the Hanoi capital-Ha Long commute by 50 km to 130 km.
In Ha Long Bay, apart from the popular activities of kayaking and cruise tours, a new helicopter tour has been launched recently. Now visitors can book the Ha Long Heli Tours through Fastsky, the country’s first helicopter ride-sharing service run by ride-hailing firm FastGo.
The tour, provided by the Northern Vietnam Helicopter Company, allows visitors to enjoy stunning views of famous attractions including the Thien Cung Cave and Ti Top Island, as well as Bai Tu Long, a lesser-known neighbor of Ha Long Bay.
Since its recognition as a UNESCO natural world heritage in 1994, Ha Long Bay has entrenched itself on the global tourism map, receiving rave reviews from travel bloggers and filmmakers for its emerald green waters and towering limestone islands topped by forests.
British magazine Woman and Home last month labeled Ha Long Bay one of the most mentioned global cruise destinations on Instagram.
An overnight cruise trip has been recommended a "must-try" travel experience in Asia by Business Insider. Its lesser-known neighbor, Bai Tu Long, has been recommended as place to avoid the crowd by U.K. travel publisher Rough Guides.