Travelling Vietnam -Halong Bay

Halong Bay

Yes, it’s a tourist cliche, and yes, it is relatively expensive. However, visiting Halong Bay is a must, if only to witness its overwhelming beauty and historical interest.

We broke our stay in Hanoi – opting to take a two-night cruise to this World Heritage site, which the travel desk at our hotel, the Peridot Grand Luxury Boutique Hotel (Hanoi), arranged. We didn’t have to lift a finger. The whole tour from pick up to drop off was booked for us. Thank you to Lucy and her delightful colleague for going above and beyond to ensure we experienced the best.

Ferried to Tuan Chau Port after a comfortable 2.5-hour drive south, we embarked on a large “Kestrel” type river boat. Euphemistically referred to as a Junk, it was a very romantic sight. A wooden double-decked boat decorated in its parent company’s, “Nostalgia Cruises gold and white regalia, was waiting grandly at the docking site.

We had opted for a small cruise, so we were accompanied by an assortment of only eight other worldwide people and greeted by a very warm and friendly crew.

The onboard crew leader was the calm and kind “Jimmy,” who arranged all the activities, from night (squid) fishing to morning kayaking, a cooking lesson, and pushbike rides on an island housing a small village of indigenous people.

We chose not to participate in the activities, opting to stay put, swim in the sea, and relax on the top deck. This was plenty for two travelers who did not want to venture far.

Using the ship’s ladder to climb and dive into the clear emerald sea, we loved the simplicity of taking in the wonderous natural environment. A cocktail or two on the top (main) deck after a warming soak in the jacuzzi provided all the entertainment we needed.

The top deck wasn’t any old “main deck”. Fitted out with comfy loungers, a carousel seating arrangement under a large and colourful parasol, a bar and the aforementioned bubbling jacuzzi it was a space that offered all the view-watching opportunities any passenger would want. The views included gazing at the 500 million-year-old towering limestone structures emerging from glorious emerald green and blue waters.

This UNESCO World Heritage site also has an ancient history of humans habituating its various bays and land to this day. We saw many “water villages” and colourful fishing boats, (long boats), still providing shelter and livelihoods to the people of Halong Bay.

Of course, a cruise to Halong Bay would only be complete with a spectacular sunset. And that is precisely what we got. Burnt orange and golden light swept the sky, bathing everything in that unique soft evening hue as the burning red orb of the sun sank below the horizon.

Another cocktail please.

MTR Tip – In my opinion, one night would be ample for a Halong Bay cruise. Or if you’re pushed for time, try a day trip with lunch, which would provide an excellent “overview” of the bay.

Additional information was sourced from http://www.vietnam-tourism.com.

A special thank you to Jimmy, whose gentle kindness was very much appreciated.

If you would like to find out more about Halong Bay, please contact me – JaneCo@mytravelroom.co.nz

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