Taking in the View from the top of Sung Sot Cave
Now after you have explored all of Sung Sot's three chambers, your guide will lead you to the top where you'll see an astounding view of Ha Long Bay.
Of course, once you're here, you'll take the same picture as every VTer and paste it as your opening picture for your Ha Long Bay page...
Kayaking in Ha Long Bay
This is a must, even in 10c weather conditions, how else are you going to see the awesome limestone structures up close? Of course, it'll be better during summer but I wasn't going to leave this out now that I was here! I paddled out ( sadly without my camera ) and saw caves, corals and amazing limestone formations.
Cave of Awe (Hang Sung Sot)
Hang Sung Sot simply means cave of awe and aptly named too. Every tourist that comes in here will drop their jaw when they see the awesome limestone formations inside the cave. Of course, it might drop even further when they catch the view from the top of the cave. Read on to see the view from the top..
You'll definitely pay a visit to Sung Sot whether you're on a 3d or 2d trip to Halong Bay. Of course, when you're there, do look out for the cheeky "male anatomy rock" (VT prohibits the use of the actual word ) and grafitti dating back to the 1960's..
Treking Cat Ba National Park
Now, you'll only have time for treking thru' CatBa National Park when you take the 3D trip to Ha Long Bay. To me, this was the highlight of the trip. Not only did I get to see some native flora and fauna but I got to see awesome scenary and many opportunities to see how the local folk live..
Admiring Awesome Limestone Structures
This is a real no-brainer as you'll be doing this the moment you sail out into Ha Long Bay. How can you not do so? These limestone structures are everywhere! To get a real perpective of this, take a look at the picture, now glance at the lower left hand corner, do you see a tiny boat with a woman? Yes, reader, the limestone structures are that enormous!
Click here to see more pictures of ha long bay.
Chinese Junks in Ha Long Bay
Nothing completes the picture of a romantic Ha Long Bay more than a couple of junks in red or yellow sails, right? Looking at them conjures the image of ancient Chinese naval exploration and if you're on one of them, you'll feel like Admiral Cheng Ho*!
*He's the famous Chinese admiral who sailed half across the world in 1421.
Interacting with the local folk in VietHai Village
Take a 3D trip to Ha Long Bay if you can afford the time, you won't regret it. Whilst the 2D trip offers you a grand spectacle of the bay, the 3D trip offers a further insight to the lives of the local folk. After treking for 6km in the National Park, we went to Viet Hai Village and had an interesting cultural exchange session. Here's a picture of my German friend enjoying a puff on the local water pipe called a "dieu cay ". Needless to say, I wasn't offered a puff. Wanna know why? Click here...
2 day, 1 night boat trip on Halong Bay
There are many wonderful pages & photos describing trips on Halong Bay. Here is our description of a typical budget option. This cost us US$35 each. The price included return mini-bus from Hanoi, lunch & dinner on the first day, and breakfast & lunch on the 2nd day. Drinks had to be purchased seperately. Alcohol was more expensive than normal and BYO was not encouraged. In fact there might have even been a sign stating that it was a no-no.
The trip from Hanoi took 3 hours. It was comfortable enough. We became tired of the Kung Fu movie that they were playing and they let us play one of the DVD's that we had brought. It was organised chaos getting to our boat at the docks, there were tourists and boats everywhere. Best pay attention and follow your designated leader! Seafood lunch was served after we had settled into our rooms and we ate while we cruised amongst the huge upright islands. We stopped at a huge cave called Hang Sung Sot and hiked up & through some spectacluar stagatites & stalagmites. I will put these photos on a seperate travelogue. Seafood dinner was also quite tasty. The seafood and fresh herbs were purchased from a boat selling to the tour boats. We shared the boat with 7 other couples (there were only 8 rooms). Before dinner, some of the passengers that got on at Halong City were dropped off at Cat Ba Island to stay the night at a hotel. It was raining when we woke in the morning and the kayaking was cancelled. Breakfast was good (bacon, eggs and a kind of sweet bread - brioche?) After breakfast, we went back to Cat Ba Island to pick up the other passengers and slowly cruised back for a pretty good lunch in Halong City. The bus returned us to Hanoi by around 5pm.
And we even had an added bonus on our budget boat - a huge white rat I saw scurrying around the dining room before I went to bed whilst writing up my journal. Not sure if it was pet or pest!!
IN LIGHT OF THE RECENT TRAGEDY INVOLVING A BOAT SINKING.....PLEASE TAKE CARE WHEN CHOOSING A BOAT. YOU MAY BE BETTER OFF SPENDING A FEW MORE $'S AND HAVING A SAFER EXPERIENCE.
- Budget Travel
Watching Sun Setting in Ha Long
Once you're in Ha Long Bay, stay on the deck of the Chinese Junk watching the sun setting behind those islets...then the blue sky turns red-orangish...picture perfect.
If you want to catch the sunrise, then try wake up like 5.30am. It will be worth the effort.
- Sailing and Boating
Sung Sot Caves
Sung Sot Caves must be the most impressive caves at Halong Bay which are beyond my expectations. All the standard boat trips to Halong Bay will include a visit to these caves. The scenery approaching the caves are very beautiful and once you reach the jetty, there is a need to climb up a flight of stairs before reaching the entrance. Once inside, you will be amazed by the limestone formations, colours as well as the size of the caves. It is also very cooling inside the caves and your guide will explain to you in detail, including the many structures in the caves which looks like various items such as snake, Buddha, tortoise etc. At the end of the caves where you go down to the jetty, there is a viewing point which has the classical views of Halong Bay which you see in postcards and travel brochures. More photos of Sung Sot Caves are at the travelogue section of this VT page.
- National/State Park
- Hiking and Walking
The Caves of Halong Bay
This cave is Huge! The Dau Go (pronounced Zo) actually three large chambers filled with hundreds of stalactites. The cave is a bit crowded, as most of the boats seem to stop here, but it was still worth a stop.
Kayaking in Ha Long Bay
If you buy a package tour for a boat trip, kayaking is included. They will let you kayak twice for about half an hour. You can also kayak to a (very) small private beach and take a swim there for awhile. It's such a unique experience. And I still can't shut up about it.
A boat trip is just awesome and well worth(more) every penny you spend. With great food provided, great sceneries of the seascapes and fishing boats, great time, and great tan...or is it sunburn?
It is something that you should NOT miss.
- Budget Travel
Best time to visit Halong Bay
It would be good to visit Halong Bay in the warmer months from April to October where you can swim off the boat, kayak, relax at the beaches etc. Avoid the typhoon season which peaks around August. It is possible to visit during the colder months from October to February, but it will be too cold to swim or relax and the beach. It will be very crowded during the warmer months, and there were less crowds when I visited during the colder month of December 2006.
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
The life of the local people at Halong Bay revolves around water which is not surprising. In fact, they live on the floating water villages and life is very tough. They earn their living by activities such as fishing, pearl farming and selling items to tourists. The many islands of Halong Bay act as important shelters for these floating villages against typhoons and strong waves. Some of the boat trips will bring you to explore these villages, including the fish and pearl farms.
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
You will see lots of junk boats at the jetty.
Each boat belongs to a travel agent. So when you make your booking in Hanoi, you will have lots of agency to choose from.
My suggestion is to go for ODC Travel. If they are fully taken, then sign up for the cheapest tour you can find. This is because the smaller agencies will combine their client into a boat and set sail. You will find that some pays USD20+, USD30+ or USD58+.
This is due to the quality of the food served on board. We compared the travel agencies that we book with at the VT Meet and found out that ODC Travel serves the real seafood.
You pay USD58 for a 3D2N Halong + Cat Ba tour.
We went with treeking tours and Sinh Cafe tours were on the same boat as us. We paid USD33 while others paid USD30 for the same boat.
- Sailing and Boating