Vietnam | Halong Bay

So I find myself back in Hanoi, which is a rarity. I've rarely go back to the same city twice, so far only to cities in Japan. Last I was in Hanoi, I had the joy of taking an overnight train over to Sapa valley and also visited Tam Coc, "Halong Bay on land". However I missed Halong Bay itself, which is my main reason for visiting this time. 

You can find travel agencies selling tours for Halong Bay virtually on every corner in the city of Hanoi. But the hotel I was staying at - Hotel City Palace Hotel, had a tour desk. Even if you just book the day before, there’s a chance to go to Halong Bay. I would actually recommend this instead of booking in advance. Halong Bay isn’t known for having perfect weather, it can be foggy at a lot of times, meaning low visibility. Rather than being stuck on a bus for 4 hours there and another 4 back with no guarantee of seeing it, it’s best to wait and confirm the weather. 

The bus was a huge tour bus that had a capacity of about 30 people. We head off for Halong Bay at about 8am in the morning. It was a long 4hr drive, and the first stop was only 2.5hr after we departed. My bladder was about to burst as I made a mistake to drink beer during breakfast. The stop over station was like any other stop over you’d see if you took a trip to the suburb areas surrounding Hanoi. They are usually this big warehouse like place with a lot of souvenir: paintings, traditional clothing, bags, magnets, everything really. And then they’ll have a small restaurant and loads of snacks to sell.


We arrived on Duan Chau Island where the boat pier was at. Our guide quickly ran to get some tickets for the boat where we will dine on. Lunch was pretty simple food as you can’t cook too much on a ferry. But I finished the food quickly so I could go to the upper deck to enjoy the good view! And the weather has been on our side. The boat cruised along for about 20 minutes before reaching another dock. There we were dropped off to get on small bamboo boats where rowers would get us closer to these majestic limestone formations.


The boat ride felt really short, compared to the long journey we had to take to get here. As I thought the trip was over, the big steam boat took us over to this big cave called "Dong Thien Cung" (Sky Cave). It is a massive cave naturally formed with stalactite and stalagmite formations. Artificial lighting was installed in, however it just made the cave light up even more!  

It was time to head back already. Another 4 hour bus ride back to Hanoi. I was asleep and listening to music for the most part, but another group of youngsters had the energy to chat the whole entire way through. I say youngsters, but they are my age. Perhaps I just have an old soul. 

Last night in Hanoi, and of course, I am still having Pho. Feeling content now that I have visited Halong Bay, I'm not sure if and when I"ll be back in Hanoi. But I am definitely opened to the idea, it is a very charming city. 

Next, I'll be off to Yangon, Myanmar for a short weekend trip. Goodbye for now, Vietnam. 

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