Halong Bay in Vietnam.
Taking a Cruise on the mysterious Ha Long Bay and going round the beautiful Hang Thien Cung (caves) in Vietnam.
There are various possibilities and options if you are staying in Hanoi and want to go on a Ha Long Bay cruise - ranging from
just going for the day and taking a 4 or 5 hour cruise to going on an extended Halong Bay cruise and spending 2 or 3 days or more on board. Prices for these trips therefore obviously vary according to which itinerary is chosen
but importantly there are further options to consider - the quality of the boat, number of passengers on board, how good is the food and so on. You do need to carefully read the descriptions for various options - some boat trips on offer may seem pretty cheap but this probably means they are really crammed. Hanoi hotels are good at organising these Halong
Bay trips for you and most don't particularly mark up the prices for some commission. Additionally you can usually leave your luggage at your hotel if going off on a trip for several days and just pick it up on return even if you are no longer intending to stay at that hotel.[ Click the thumbnails for a larger photo, use the back button to return to this page ]
It's worth remembering that Halong Bay can be shrouded in mist - even fog - or drizzle and this obviously affects what you can see - you have to take pot luck.
Our Halong cruise was organised by our hotel - there were various options and they recommended the 35USD each trip as this was a better boat, less people on board and offered a good lunch. The trip included transport by mini-bus, a guide, boat trip, entrance fee to the cave and an excellent sea-food lunch - drinks were
extra however but were not over-priced. The mini-bus trip takes quite a long time as Hanoi to Ha Long is 165 kms - the usual drinks, toilet and craft shop factory stop is made en-route. The return trip skips the factory but does have a breif toilet and drinks stop.
One thing to bear in mind is that the drive back in the dark from Halong Bay to Hanoi can be quite hair raising - especially the overtaking where the drivers are content to nearly collide head-on at high speed. Certainly on these mini-buses it's best not to sit right up the front by the driver. Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site - covers 580 square miles and has over 2000 pinnacle shaped outcrops. Legend states that giant
dragon plunged into the Gulf of Tonkin and created a myriad of tiny islands - Ha Long means "descending dragon". The whole area is a seascape of bizzarely shaped outcrops, caves and sandy coves. The boat trip takes you through often mist-shrouded limestone and dolomite outcrops and around several of the brightly painted floating villages of Ha Long Bay.
The day of our trip was quite dull and the whole area seemed really weird and erie with the pinacles rising ghost like out of the gloom. Part of the tour included a visit to
Hang Thien Cung (grotto of the heavenly palace)
- i.e. a series of underground caves. There is a steep climb to the
entrance of the cave then a descent into the rectangular cavern - the cavern is 250 metres long and 20 metres high.
The numerous stalactites and stalagmites are lit up often with brightly coloured lights and the whole thing is quite
spectacular. It probably takes around 35 to 40 minutes to walk round the caves. Obviously there can be several groups in the caves at the same time but the guides seemed capable ofr organising their respective groups and there was no congestion.
When you climb back up to the exit from the caves (which is not the same as the entrance point) the views are again very impresive. After returning to the boat it was then possible to go kayaking or you could just sit and relax on board. The entire
"boat" part of the Halong Bay tour takes about five hours and is definitely a worthwhile experience and good value for money.
Our items about Hanoi - including day trips which can be easily done from the city.
- Hanoi Vietnam Travel and Touring Guide and Photos
- Hanoi hotels and restaurants in The Old Quarter i.e. where to stay, Hoan Kiem Lake, Den Ngoc Son Temple, markets, photos.
- Hanoi Vietnam Sightseeing Guide and Photos
- Visting Bach Ma Temple, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Tran Quoc Pagoda, Temple of Literature, Presidential Palace, Long Bien Bridge
- Visiting Tram Gian Pagoda, Tay Phuong Pagoda, Thay Pagoda in Vietnam
- Looking round Tay Phuong Pagoda, Thay Pagoda, Tram Gian Pagoda (Tien Lu Pagoda) on a daytrip from Hanoi, Vietnam, Photos.
- Visiting The Perfume Pagoda in Vietnam
- Going to visit The Perfume Pagoda which is on the Fragrant Vestige Mountain, a sampan ride on The Suoi Yen River in Vietnam.
- Day trip to visit Tam Coc in Vietnam
- Going to Tam Coc - taking a sampan ride through the caves and between the hills, also visiting Hoa Lu Temples in Vietnam.
- Vietnam and Mekong Delta Touring Guide
- Our Vietnam Home Page - this contains all of our topics about touring in Vietnam and The Mekong Delta.
More destinations for which we have travel and holiday guides are for Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Cyprus, lots of Greek Islands, The Algarve and several Canary Islands
Also many Topics about England - Wild Flowers, National Trail Walks, Churches plus quite a few canals including The Kennet and Avon Canal, The Oxford Canal, The Grand Union Canal, The Regents Canal - also two rivers (the Lee and Stort) and about walking The Thames Path.
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