Halong Bay, Vietnam
Halong Bay is about a 3-hour drive from Hanoi and is a UNESCO world heritage site. It was definitely a must-see attraction for us and we were so excited for this experience. We had such a blast on our island hopping tour in Thailand and were hoping for a similar experience. (Check out more on the Thailand tour here). We scheduled an overnight tour through our hotel with Flamingo cruises. There are many horror stories from tourists about cheap cruise lines and strange budget experiences. To ensure that we would be on a legitimate cruise line, we paid a little more.
The cruise line picked us up from our hotel early in the morning along with several other couples. The drive was long but the view through rice paddy fields and farms was unmatched. A small speedboat took us out to our large cruise ship. We got settled into our room, which was actually roomier than I imagined, and then went to lunch. Afterwards, we went to the upper deck to take in the sights. Unfortunately the entire day had been very rainy and the fog over the water was pretty thick. It was pretty cold and we had not packed for cool weather so we weren’t able to stay outside for too long.
From left to right: Our cruise ship with Flamingo Cruises. Checking out our room in the boat. It was a little bit chilly on the deck especially since we only had light summer jackets.
Kayaking and Spring Rolls
In the late afternoon we took a smaller boat to an area where we got into kayaks! There was an area full of little caves and rock formation that we paddled around. AJ and I saw some jellyfish in the water and were able to pick them up with our kayak paddles to take a better look at them. No jellyfish were harmed during this process. When we got back to the main boat we had to prepare for dinner. We were allowed to help roll the fresh spring rolls during a presentation by the crew! The food itself was just OK, nothing special. We did sit at a table with some very funny English businessmen that made the night very entertaining!
From Left to Right: Kayaking on the bay. Kayaking through the caves. A jellyfish we picked up with our paddle! The strange food on the boat.
In the evening, some women came by on tiny boats stocked with snacks and drinks and sold everyone on board snacks for exorbitant prices! They had this long stick with a bucket on it so they could collect money and “deliver” your food to the decks of the boat. Such inventive entrepreneurs!
Halong Bay Day 2 and the “Surprise”
We got an early start so we could take a short hike to a cave system called the “Surprise Caves”. It was packed with tourists, we had to wait in line to hike the hill and enter. The caves looked a little goofy lit up with multicolored lights. The view at the end of the cave system was stunning but I am not sure what the “surprise” was! Unfortunately the weather had not cleared in the morning when we were supposed to go swimming. We sat on the top deck to take in the views as we sailed back.
From left to right: Our cranky faces because the weather is bad again. The Surprise Caves. The gorgeous view from the cave system
Although the weather was not what we had wanted we still had a couple good foggy landscapes to take in. I wish it would have been warmer and that we would have been able to take in the swimming, views and sunrise/sunset like we had intended. We still got to have an incredible experience in an absolutely stunning UNESCO site. I hope I don’t sound ungrateful because we know how incredible it is for us to travel like we do!