How many natural formations are featured in the creation myth of a nation? According the Vietnamese legend, it’s here that the gods sent jade and jewel-spewing dragons who created the rocky islands dotting the bay and creating a defense against early Chinese invaders. In fact, the name means some variation of ‘descending dragons,’ or ‘dragons descending into the sea.’ Hạ Long Bay is the name given to a collection of karst islets, natural limestone formations created after millions of years of erosion, featuring ridges, towers, and caves. To see and explore it today, is to trace a network of around 1600 limestone isles and caves stretching across 120 km of modern Vietnamese coastline. As far back as 16,000 BCE, it was the home to early tribes of fishers, while throughout history, it has stood as a natural bulwark against invaders: in 1288, it would be the site of a Mongol defeat, where Vietnamese General Tran Hung Dao impaled Mongol ships on steel-tipped spikes, stopping their advance. Since 2000, Ha Long Bay has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.