Known as one of Asia’s top 10 sights and experiences, a trip to Halong Bay was a must. Getting there meant a 4 hour bus trip from Hanoi to the coast in order to reach the boat we were to board. We made this trip with about 15 other travellers from South America, Asia, and Europe.
The only way to see the bay is by booking onto one of the many boats which tour through the islands. There are numerous boats of varying levels of service. A bit of a splurge for us, we chose something at a middle level of ‘luxury’.
Once on the boat, we checked into our rooms and had a great lunch. The boat sailed from the port out into the famed Halong Bay. The bay’s main attraction is its unique rock formations, many of which rise straight up from the waters, seemingly teetering on their eroded bases. The boat moved through the maze of these islands. The weather was cool and overcast.
One of the other travellers on the boat was a geologist from Argentina’s Patagonia. He explained that the bay’s rocks are limestone and the many caves inside them are formed from the chemical reaction elements in water have with this type of rock, in essence melting them to form the deep caverns.
We stopped at a floating village where we went kayaking. The little kayaks were outnumbered by the many tour boats and villagers’ rowboats but they provided a good opportunity to see the rock formations up close.
After a great supper, the passengers were offered a few options for the evening’s activities. The one that Aaron and I chose, night fishing for squid, was rained out. While I took option #3 (a nap), the others endured a rather awkward session of karaoke during which few foreigners sang but the Vietnamese on board enjoyed with gusto.
The next morning included a great breakfast and then a cooking course. We learned how to make spring rolls. It was great fun trying not to break the rice paper as we rolled our own spring rolls.
As we sailed back to the port, we ate a lunch including less-than-perfect spring rolls. Our two day excursion in Halong Bay was good fun. We enjoyed meeting other foreigners and loved the beauty of this incredible region of northern Vietnam.