Cruising our way through paradise…
Halong Bay, known as one of the new 7 Wonders of Nature, happens to be a World Heritage Site since 1994. This Bay of Descending Dragons (Ha Long) in the Quang Ninh Province of Vietnam is full of limestone rock formations of different shapes and sizes, small islands and a few caves. Based on our 24-hour experience at Halong Bay, here are some tips and list of things to do. See it through our eyes and get a fair idea of what it’s like.
The best way to get there is to park yourselves at Hanoi. That’s exactly what we did. We stayed a night at Hanoi, and booked a tour to Halong Bay the next day. We had made the booking earlier. It is advisable to get in touch with the cruise of your choice at least a week or so in advance. They generally charge in USD.
This is where we spent 24 hours…
We booked Rosa Cruise for approximately USD 200/night for a room. The package included meals, two bottles of water, pick-up and drop from the hotel at Hanoi, cooking demo, Tai Chi class, kayaking, visit to the oyster farm and cave.
The rooms were comfortable, well-equipped and lined up along two storeys. We got the one at the base. Ready for a room tour?…
A special mention about out tour guide and manager, Frank, has to be made. He not only spoke well and communicated clearly, but also went out of his way to make our stay a memorable one by catering to our special requests.
The food served was exceptional. Besides the welcome drink and water, there was an extensive spread for lunch and dinner – flavoured rice, buttered prawns, salad, vegetable on sticks, chicken and meat skewers, fried fish, fries, spring rolls, squid fritters, clams, fruits and more. We were thankful that the breakfast was light.
Note: While the meals are included in the package, you have to pay for your own drinks, soft beverages and extra water. Happy hours run for about two hours in the evening.
We were blessed to take the boat from our cruise to the most secluded part of the bay, with no tourists around. We had two hours in hand and that section of the bay to ourselves, to swim, kayak and chill out.
No pic: Had left our cameras on the cruise. As you know, every vacation, I put a day aside for digital detox. We jumped into the green waters, kayaked our way around the bay and had some time to bond with our cruise-mates.
The Sung Sot Cave is also called the Surprise Cave. Apparently, it’s such a beautiful cave, that it makes you heave a sigh of surprise. However, we weren’t really taken aback. It is no doubt, a beautiful cave, but stunts like dim lighting in different colours, a bunch of boats docked around, slippery steps (when it rains), and an influx of people to admire the ‘must-do’ make it more of a tourist trap.
This was the first time we got to witness the source of the pearl and understand how it’s made. Oysters are cultured and nurtured in different columns in the water bed, under controlled temperatures and levels of salinity. They are then picked and sorted. The care-taker split open an oyster to show us its shiny, round achievement.
There was nothing dramatic about the sunset. We gazed at the skies for a while, but didn’t see any drastically changing hues. However, the moonrise was epic. We happened to spot its bright light while sipping on cocktails during happy hours.
It’s not as easy as it sounds. We had a beautiful evening, with Frank strumming the guitar and singing as we gathered around the edge to fish. After endless failed attempts at catching squid, we retired to our rooms.
Tai Chi class:
I reached the deck at 06:30 A.M. sharp. Luckily, I was joined by another lady. This was my first Tai Chi experience, and the class lasted for about 30 minutes.
By the end of the tour, we were given a cooking demo. We tried our hands at Vietnamese spring roll, and were thrilled to have what we made over lunch.
Tips and info:
– Halong Bay is 170 km from Hanoi and takes 3 hours by road
– Do not engage with vendors trying to sell their products on boats. They will approach your ship, and will offer snacks, water and other beverages at a high price, without returning the change.
– To get your online visa pre-approved, use the code LYFANDSPICE for a 10% discount-> click here.
– The pictures of Halong Bay look better than what it actually is. We noticed a lot of filth and grime in the water. It’s not the best place to dip in or swim, but then you wouldn’t want to miss a chance either.
Here’s a closer look at the bay…
Honestly, the pictures look way better than the reality. Halong Bay, no doubt is a beautiful piece of heaven on earth, but maybe, we have seen better. However, if you think of it this way – where on earth would you get a chance to cruise along limestone formations and caves for an entire day, you will surely fall in love with it. The overall experience was one worth remembering.
Note: This is not a sponsored post. We paid for our own trip and cruise. It is purely based on our experience.
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