Halong Bay

Halong Bay

People are always afraid that putting too many expectations on one place can lead to disappointment. Nevertheless, Halong Bay, in reality, was not so and even with a sky full of clouds the bay has managed to show itself in all its limpid beauty, made not only of natural elements but also of a rarefied atmosphere and silky silences.

Cruising in Halong Bay

In order to visit Halong Bay, you must necessarily get on an authorized wooden ship to sail between the wonders. The bay has been named as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO; therefore navigation and traffic are regulated by strict rules.

Halong is about a 4-hour drive from Hanoi, and you can explore the bay from either Tuan Chau or Hon Gai port. There are travel agencies that organize excursions to discover the bay but the quality offered varies a lot, so it is definitely not easy to choose. So I would say that I do not recommend taking these day trips.

Considering 8 hours of round-trip transferring and over an hour of navigation to get to the heart of the bay, it is easy to realize that the time remaining for you to admire the beauty is very little.

halong bay

The ideal excursion to Halong Bay is two days – one-night itinerary with overnight on board a junk. There are many travel agencies and tour operators that offer cruises in the bay and of course, the quality and the level differ a lot, from the most basic junk to the super luxury one.

Personally, I can recommend the Signature Cruise which has a fleet of excellent junks and offers a punctual and reliable service. I advise you to opt for the upstairs rooms, they cost a little more but you will have two huge windows that open onto the bay, so you can stay immersed in the landscape even staying in your room. The level of the rooms is very good, clean and equipped, with hot water and a great shower considering you are on a boat! To book the cruise with Signature Cruise you can contact Asiatica Travel by contacting them through their website at this link.

A two-day itinerary to explore Halong Bay

Below is the cruising program which is basically the same for all travel agencies and cruise.

The first day, the shuttle bus will pick you up at your hotel at around 8.00 and arrive at Halong around 12.00, with a stop along the way. Arriving at the pier, you will be welcomed with a welcome drink. After check-in, it’s time to have lunch while the junk starts sailing towards the heart of the bay. The food (already included in the price) has always been great, both for lunch and dinner. After lunch, you can relax on the sundeck, equipped with sun beds. Upon entering the area of islands, the view became more and more engaging, a spectacle of nature! In the afternoon, you will visit the fishing village of the bay, nestled between the rock formations. This is a circle route lasting about an hour that can be explored in a bamboo boat or kayak. Personally, I preferred the first, so you can take breathtaking pictures: immersed in silence, the only sound you hear is the soft sliding of oars in the water, while before your eyes flow the wonder of the huge monoliths covered with lush green that emerge from the sea.

Returning to the cruise, you will attend a cooking demonstration to teach you how to make Vietnamese traditional dishes and then the onboard staff prepare an excellent barbecue for dinner. The most beautiful part of the evening, however, is to stay on the balcony at sunset, watch the sun going down on the bay, with the sky turning red, making the dark side of the islands shine. Unforgettable! The same magic was repeated in the evening when the junk arrives in the area designated for the stop during the night, you will find yourself immersed in the dark, under a sky full of stars. Of course you are not alone, as all the junks must settle in this area of the bay for the night, but believe me, the other cruises are not a nuisance, and on the contrary, the lights from them make the scenery even more magical.

A night in Halong Bay is an experience that I would recommend to everyone. It is worth a trip to Vietnam!

halong bay

The second day after breakfast is a new excursion to explore the Surprising Cave. Many islands in Halong Bay consist of caves and Sung Sot cave (or Surprising cave) among the most spectacular. To reach to go up the cave, you have to climb up a staircase that leads to the entrance, from which you can enjoy a splendid view of the bay. The interior of the cave is surprising by size and beauty, with stalactites and stalagmites with bizarre shapes, which literally make its name.

Back to the junk, it’s time to return to the pier during which you once again enjoy the view from the sundeck. Arrive at the pier, you will be transferred back to Hanoi and arrive at around 4.30 p.m.

For those who want to see more caves and ravines, you can opt for the three-day cruise but in my point of view, the two-day cruise, which allows you to optimize costs and time, is enough to admire the timeless beauty of Halong Bay!

halong bay

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