Made up of 1969 islands, Halong Bay is one of the most incredible natural landscapes that I have ever seen. It is clear why it has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Centre and chosen as one of the New7Wonders of Nature.
We booked a day trip from Hanoi for our chance to see this natural wonder. Our trip departed from Hanoi at 8am arriving to the bay at approximately 12.30pm. Once we got on board our boat, we were served a meal as we cruised into the bay. The views were out of this world.
Our first stop was at one of the inlets where we had the choice to either kayak or take a traditional Vietnamese bamboo boat around. After kayaking our arms off in New Zealand (read more about that here!) we decided to take the bamboo boat around and explore the views. It was such an amazing experience.
After a short cruise, we arrived at our next stop – Dong Thien Cung. This cave, while not the biggest in the world (also found in Vietnam!) it was certainly one of the most beautiful caves that I have ever seen. There are so many cool different shapes that you can see in the rock formations. Can you spot Santa?
After this, it was back on the boat where tea was served along with some fruit as we headed back to the marina
While the rest of our tour group headed back to Hanoi, we decided to stay a night in Halong Bay. Andrew really wanted to climb the top of Bai Tho Mountain. This short hike finishes with astounding views overlooking of the bay, so that’s what we did the following morning.
The entrance to the walkway is not noticeable from the street. You have to look for the following store. Once you go through, you will see a gate that is most probably locked. In the case that you see a locked gate, a little old lady will probably appear looking for money to open it. We just paid her 50,000 vnd to let us through and off we went on our hike.
While most of the journey up is paved with steps, the part nearer the top is a little uneven and a tad bit dangerous. Be careful where you step and also of rocks hanging overhead (Andrew whacked his head off a rock on the way down!) and be sure to wear runners!
Needless to say the views from the top were absolutely breathtaking and it was well worth the trip up.
We hit two spots that I would recommend for anyone staying in the city of Halong. The first is a bbq restaurant called Vy. You are set up at a table with a bbq pit, and given a choice of meats – chicken, pork, beef etc. Then you are provided with herbs and lettuce and dips to enjoy with it. So good!
The second place was called Wander Station. A nice cafe hidden from the Main street that has really good coffee and the best ginger tea ever!
Halong Bay is one spot that you should not miss if you visit Vietnam. There are so many tours available for all kinds of budgets and groups. These include party boats, luxury cruises and the day trip that we did. Definitely do your research. If we had have had more time we probably would have picked a longer tour. So, definitely have a look and choose one that best suits your interests.