Sunday, 29 July 2018

Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay is one of the most iconic places in Vietnam. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 and is also one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. It is an enormous bay with dark turquoise water and thousands of limestone karsts covered with thick vegetation.

The name means 'descending dragon' and according to legend, the karsts were formed from the dragons who came to protect the Vietnamese people from enemies. They scattered emeralds and jade - which formed the karsts- into the ocean to form a natural barrier and prevent any future invasions.

There are seemingly thousand of tours to Ha Long Bay, from the ridiculously expensive to the scarily cheap. We decided on a mid-range tour ($120USD) 2D 1N with Vega Travel and loved it!

There were only 8 people on our cruise which was lovely; experiencing a small tour without having to pay for the luxury.

In Ha Long Bay, the whole 'expectation vs reality' definitely came into play. You might be expecting a cruise in a quiet and desolate landscape. In reality, there are hundreds of cruise boats in the bay and also quite a lot of container ships (they pass through the bay on their way to Da Nang). The selling point of Vega was that they had a different itinerary to the rest of the operators. Allegedly, most operators go to the same places, roughly at the same time resulting in overcrowding and excessive noise. This was evident when our boat veered left and everyone else went right.

We went to a small bay within the greater Bai Tu Long Bay for kayaking and it was so lovely as we were the only boat / kayakers there. We went on an easy kayak to two caves, Trong Cave (Drum cave) and Trinh Nu (Virgin cave).

Blue hour

The following day we - along with every boat and their cat - headed towards Hang Sung Sot (The Surprising cave). As we neared the cave, we saw where every other boat had anchored for the night.

After the cave, we headed to Titop Mountain. The walk to the lookout was short yet difficult because it was so bloody hot. But that view!

A wonderful (short) break away from the internet

One of my favourite memories from the trip was sitting at the back of the boat at night, our legs dangling over the edge as we watched schools of fish, squid and crabs swim by.

There are so many Ha Long Bay operators that there is analysis paralysis. But I genuinely would recommend Vega Travel. It wasn't the cheapest but definitely worth the price. Sure the rooms weren't amazing (shower and bed could be improved), but the food was tasty and plentiful and they definitely achieved their selling point - having a different itinerary. Crowds are inevitable at Ha Long Bay and they really tried to organise their itinerary to beat the majority of the masses. It is definitely advisable to go on a 2D 1N tour (which equates to 24 hours on the boat) as it simply takes so long to get to the wharf from Hanoi (4hrs).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for leaving me a message! I appreciate every comment that I receive :)