This post will be shorter than most but photo heavy.
Halong Bay is approximately 170 kilometers from Hanoi, which for those metrically challenged is about 105 miles. Halong Bay is also one of the most touristy places in Vietnam and is considered by many to be a necessary stop when visiting Northern Vietnam. I would definitely agree that it is a must see as the scenery is stunning.
The not so stunning part of the trip is the 4 hour bus ride each direction. The ride itself was interesting for the first 30 minutes when we stay baguette sellers on the side of the highway and a lot of voting posters, but after that it was frustrating to realize that we were averaging below 30 miles an hour because the roads were in poor condition and the traffic isn’t exactly orderly.
So I was grumpy after an early morning wake up call and long ride in the car, but when we alighted in Halong City to get on our boat for the next two days I was floored. The boats were beautifully restored oriental junks that were sitting in Halong Bay and it seriously looked like a magazine cover. I thought all the photos we had seen were severely altered or otherwise photoshopped but in reality they didn’t do it justice.
|Halong Bay from the Jetty|
We got on our Junk for a two day tour and had a great time. The Junk was called the Red Dragon II and was run by Indochina Junks.
We cruised amount the numerous islands jutting out from the sea, hiked around one of the limestone karst islands, we toured a cave, sea kayaked around another island, swam in the bay, and enjoyed the day on Halong Bay. That night we got to see the stars, savour the full moon and enjoy the silence of being out in the bay no where near the frantic pace of civilization.
The next morning we toured a floating fishing village that was a long way from society but had built up a school, a pearl farming area, and numerous floating homes all tied together. We got to ride in a bamboo boat that was a one of a kind travel experience. It was surprisingly agile and buoyant, but I wouldn’t want to take it out on the open sea.
|Pearl fresh from the farm|
|Our Bamboo Basket Boat|
|Not to worry – the boat was registered|
The junk also had superb food with a ten course lunch and an equally large dinner that allowed us to sample some very fresh seafood and indulge in a variety of Vietnamese delights. We also told the company it was our anniversary, 5 years is coming up and it was close to our 4 1/2 year anniversary. We got a birthday cake to celebrate!!!
|Two of our ten courses|
|Dinner and Vegetable Art|
|Pull Tab Beer Can – Old School|
|Happy Birthday Anniversary! What a wonderful trip|
After the junk cruise we headed back to Hanoi for an overnight before our flight to Singapore and after the relaxing journey on Halong Bay I was happier to handle the long bus ride. I also knew there was some Bia Hoi waiting for me to calm the nerves.