Halong Bay is in the northeast region of Vietnam, close to Hanoi and is known for the emerald waters. Thousands of towering limestones topped with rainforests make it a must visit. There are a lot of islands around the region and its comes up in many bucket list and must visits places. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Vish and I were lucky to actually be to Vietnam in the long weekend of August 2017. We stayed in Hanoi and had booked a one night cruise to Halong bay. There were a lot of options like 2 night Halong bay cruise with one night at a hotel etc We had a little less time and after a lot of research had found that one night two days cruise was a good option.Also my recommendation to you, book your cruise with Vega Travels, we had and it was a super good choice.
We were staying near old quarters in Hanoi and had a 8:00 AM pick up by Vega travels in a minivan. It was a 3.5 hour drive through the Red River Delta to the wharf of Ha Long bay.The guide had a good command of English , was very polite and funny. The bunch of people going for the cruise was a very different mix and match, there was a family of four from Australia, a family of three from USA, Vish and I , Another and son from Brazil and a couple from spain . On our way to the Wharf we stopped at the Vega travels office to pay our due amounts. For two of us the cost of the trip was USD 240.
Around 12 we boarded the cruise and it was a beautiful wooden boat with a beautiful sun deck. There were around 3-4 staffs on the boat, we kept our luggage at the room, the room was very beautiful with a big window overlooking the bay.All of us met at the restaurant of the deck, were taking some pictures and interacted with the guards. The guide told us about the plans about the two days and the when can we switch on the aircon in the room. As only the water heater or the aircon could work at one time. After all we do not want to use up too much resources. We enjoyed some time on the sun decks while cruising past the hundreds of islands and islets of Bai Tu Long Bay.
Around 2 we were ready for our lunch, we sat with the couple from USA and believe me the food was amazing. I being the only vegetarian on board,I was worried about what options would I have? But I got amazing food and more than actually what others got. Stir Fried tofu, noodles, spring rolls and amazing deserts. The food was ample and we really enjoyed the conversation with others the view outside as we could see the limestone rocks closer now.
We then relaxed on the sun deck, after putting a lot of sunscreen and absorbed the view before us. Emerald waters and thousands of limestone rocks. It was beautiful and so relaxing .
We were suppose to go to a secluded spot where we could kayak ona two paddle kayak. We were all very excited about the same. We were taken aboard a small boat to go closer the lagoon, as big cruises are not allowed to protect the environment and the limestones. The lagoon was beautiful and after suiting ourselves with life jackets we all took a kayak. Vish and I are not that great at kayaking, our first experience in Krabi was quite scary. But the waters in the bay was quite calm and it was smooth to kayak. We moved through the narrow lanes of limestone mountains and karsts being broken by wind and time. We visited Trong Cave(Drum cave) and Trinh Nu (Virgin cave) kayaking our way through those. In the lagoon some people got down from their kayaks to have a swim in the Emerald water. We did not get down and actually we were lucky we didn’t. There were a lot of jelly fishes in that are and two guys from our group got badly stung and was quite in pain.
After spending around two hours we went back to our cruise which cruised to a tranquil lagoon among Bai Tu Long Bay, Ha Long Bay for dinner and a peaceful night.We took a bath after the kayak experience and refreshed ourselves, met every one on the deck for sharing stories and having a drink. The staff was very helpful and friends, we ordered two cocktail for ourselves, it was like USD 1 or 2 and was quite cheap. We also had a session where we learnt how to make spring rolls with rice paper, These rice paper are super thin and there were variety of cut vegetables and meat. There were different options available for me as well. We learnt how to make one and then made a few yummy ones for ourselves to eat. It was very nice experience and the spring rolls were yummy and soo fresh.
Post that we had our dinner, the young boy from Brazil had his birthday and we had a cake cutting, it was alike a small family ona cruise, everyone talking and so happy. It was a wonderful experience. Vish and I were really enjoying ourselves. After dinner we decided to try fishing and took the fishing rods and baits and also put a light bulb to attract fishes. We were 6-7 people who were trying , while soft music was playing and quite enjoying ourselves. Most of them knew fishing and had experiences before, Vish and I had never fished before, but quite enjoyed it. The kids caught a big white jelly fish in the nets, it was quite happy and we dropped it back.
It was a perfect moon lit night, so quiet you could hear the wind whispering, we spent some good time on the deck, quietly soaking up the beauty and the calmness of the place and feeling good about each other and these small things in our lives. Truly blessed.Back in the room, we were amazed to see the entire room was lit with moon light and it was looking beautiful. One of the best nights which we can never forget.
The second day in the morning after a yummy and wide-spread of breakfast we went to visit the most beautiful cave of the bay called Hang Sung Sot (The Surprising cave). It was beautiful, the cave had amazing formations and the guides were very helpful explaining the formations and creatures these stoned formed. The light coming in from some cracks lighting up some areas of the cave. It was worth a visit.
Afterward we walked up 340 constructed terraced steps to the top of Titop Mountain peak for a 3600 view of Ha Long Bay – Bai Tu Long Bay – Lan Ha Bay and Cat Ba Island National Park. We were slow to reach up (not so fit and were a little dehydrated) but made it. The view from the top was something which I had never seen in my life. The entire bay was visible and it was amazing. Thankfully we had come early morning and there were less tourists. After that we went down to the Ti Top beach, a naturally formed sand beach, for a refreshing dip in the bay.However Vish got stung badly by a jelly fish. As you would have seen to actually lower the pain and bear the pain from the stung you have to pee on your self. Vish went to a blocked view behind a rock to lower the pain ;). It is actually quite painful.
We came back to the cruise, had a bath and relaxed for some time before our last lunch on the boat. The cruise went along the most beautiful zone of Ha Long bay including the Dog stone, the Fighting Cock islet, the Couple islet, the 3-Tunnel grotto and fish farming to dock back. We got down and prepared ourselves for the journey back to the hotel.
The cruise was one the most memorable experiences and we understood why people are so excited about visiting Halong bay. On our way back we sang songs Despacito being the famous one at that time, some Bollywood numbers, a little bit of dance and had a great journey back. We exchanged email addresses and wished our goodbyes, a trip to remember for a lifetime.
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