Ha Long Bay, Hanoi
Halong Bay is the jewel of Vietnam and should not be missed. It's well worth it even if it is foggy when I went. Actually, the fog gave the feeling that we were approaching "Skull Island" except that we were getting there faster than Peter Jackson. Halong Bay consists of a dense cluster of 1,969 limestone monolithic islands, each topped with thick jungle vegetation, which rise spectacularly from the ocean. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves. Some of the islands support floating villages of fishermen, who ply the shallow waters for fish and mollusks.
There are 1, 2 or 3 days cruises and ODC Travel seems to be the company of choice although we just got our guesthouse to arrange it. I took a one day excursion because of time constraints but I think that the two day tour is best. The one day cost $21 US while the two day would have been $26 US.
Ha Long literally means descending dragon(s) and according to local myth, the story goes as follows:
Long ago when their forefathers were fighting foreign invaders from the north, the gods from heaven sent a family of dragons to help defend their land. This family of dragons descended upon what is now Ha Long bay and began spitting out jewels and jade. Upon hitting the sea, these jewels turned into the various islands and islets dotting the seascape and formed a formidable fortress against the invaders. The locals were able to keep their land safe and formed what is now the country of Vietnam. The Dragon family fell so much in love with this area for its calm water and for the reverence of the people of Vietnam that they decided to remain on earth. Mother dragon lies on what is now Ha Long and where her children lie is Bai Tu Long. The dragon tails formed the area of Bach Long Vi known for the miles of white sandy beaches of Tra Co peninsula.
Sailing trough emerald green waters is so incredible. Hundred of stones emerging from the water.
Do the 3 days trip and not a shorter one because if not you will not have the chance to enjoy it.
Burgle the price! DONT FORGET THAT!
At least one day will be taken by a trip to the magnificent Halong Bay. But it is still worth it. But better pay a bit more and travel in a small group than in a crowd of 20 to save a few dollars. We spend the night on Cat Ba Island which is not recomendable, a mere tourist trap.
Because I didn't have much time I was only able to take the day trip to Halong Bay. But even so it is a wonderfl magical landscape to see. In many ways quite similar to Phang Nga Bay near Phuket in Thailand.
See the travelogue for more pics of this beautiful place.
Halong Bay cruise is a popular trip from Hanoi. There are 1, 2 or 3 days cruises and many agencies organize the group trips, so it won't be hard for you to find a place in a group. I did it with "ODC Travel" and couldn't complain...
The best is to take a 2 days tour, sleeping on board at the bay. You can also sleep in a Hotel in Cat Ba, but is not so charming. The bay's waters are calm, so the boat doesn't move much while you sleep.
Prices were about 26 USD for 2 days /1 night
Halong Bay is nice 2-3 day trip out of Hanoi. It's around a three hour bus ride to Ha Long Bay, and another 2 hour boat ride to Cat Ba Island. It's one of the World Heritage Sites and well worth seeing. It's hard to take a bad picture.
Beautiful. 3000 limestone cliff islands jutting out of the green ocean. Drive over in the evening, take an 8-hour trip the next morning, head back in the late afternoon. Try to have lunch at a floating restaurant.
Thien Cung (Heavenly Palace) is a beautiful cave with stalactite and stalagmite formations that resemble figures and animals.
Tam Coc - you can see rock formations surrounded by the rice fields and separated by the many water source. It is normally part of the package together with Hoa Lu
Some of the limestone islands in Ha Long bay have fantastic caves in them with beatiful rock formations formed by the dripping water.
See the travelogue for more pics of the caves.
Aller voir la baie de Ha Long, par le train vers Hai Phong puis en bus jusque la baie où a été tourné le film Indochine, avec Catherine Deneuve.