Halong Bay in Vietnam was one of the fixed points we set ourselves on our world tour from the very beginning. We had already seen so many beautiful pictures of the limestone rocks in the sea that we really wanted to experience it ourselves. And today our little 2-day trip from Hanoi to Halong Baystarted.
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Tours from Hanoi to Halong Bay
To see Halong Bay from Hanoi, you can usually choose between 1, 2 or 3 day tours. One day we found a little too stressful, because the journey from Hanoi to Halong alone takes a good 4 hours. 3 days we found a little too long, so we (like probably most) decided for a 2 day tour. Then you can decide which category the ship should have: Budget, Middle Range or Luxury. Here, too, we chose the golden centre. We booked the trip with V’Spirit Cruises directly on site at our hotel in Hanoi for USD 120 per person.
In the end, Hanoi has dozens of trips to Halong Bay. In the old town you will find different tour operators at almost every corner, and the routes and prices (which we requested) differ only slightly. Therefore, we decided to book the tour directly in our hotel. Just in time at 8 o’clock in the morning we were picked up by our tour guide Van. The bus ride from Hanoi to Halong took about 4 hours, including a break.
There is not really much to see on the track. About halfway through, we made a 30-minute stop in a factory. Normally we are not so enthusiastic about such “sales stops” – but this one was already impressive. In addition to the normal plunder such as clothes, jewellery, figures, etc., there is a large room where workers make embroidery pictures. And these embroidery images are so incredibly well and detailedly processed that we had to consider partly whether it is not a photo after all. Unfortunately, this is not easy to photograph because of the many lights and reflections. On the information signs in the pictures you can read that some seamstresses have sat on a single picture for up to 10 years (!). Incredible and really fascinating. On the next picture you can see how the stickers create the pictures based on the templates.
After another 2 hours in the minibus, we arrived at the port on the offshore island of Tuen Cha.
Our ship for the Halong Cruise
Around 12.30 p.m. we were brought on our ship, the V’Spirit Classic 5, with a tender boat. There were already some people on board, including an eleven-member German tour group. On the boat there are two different room categories: the cheaper version “Deluxe” and the more expensive variant “Premium” with private balcony. We had decided on a deluxe room and thought it was great. After we had moved into our room we got a delicious lunch. During the meal we drove into Halong Bay. Here we could see for the first time the typical overgrown limestone rocks.
The Halong Bay
The great tourist magnet of Halong Bay can be seen by just how many other boats make their way every day. Halong Bay consists of 1969 limestone rocks, which extend over an area of 1,500 km2 in northern Vietnam and sometimes rise several hundred meters from the water. The name (Vénh H’Long) means “Bay of the Diving Dragon”. Since 1994, the bay has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the 7 world wonders of nature. In the bay there are up to 12,000 islanders, who live mainly from fishing and from the tourists. That’s why you often see floating traders here.
The Sung Sot Caves
The first stop of our tour we made on Bo Hon Island at strong>the Sung Sot Caves, which we drove with the tender boat. The cave entrance is a bit sublime and from here you have a great view of the bay in front of it.
The Sung Sot Caves consist of several caves attached to each other. The first one is still relatively small, the second is already a bit bigger and the third cave is really massive. Everywhere you can see the many stalagmites and stalactites,some of which were illuminated with coloured light.
View over Halong Bay from Ti Top Island
Next stop was the Dao Ti Top Island,where many tourists were already. All tour operators have similar programs here. The highlight of the small island of Ti Top is on the one hand the beach and on the other hand a viewing platform on the mountain top, which can be reached via a steep ascent. From the top of the mountain you have a beautiful panoramic view of Halong Bay and the many anchoring cruise ships. Around 6 p.m. we went back to our boat, where we could relax a bit before there was dinner.
A small trip by kayak
The next morning we had breakfast at 7 a.m., as the first program item was already on the agenda for 8 a.m.: Kayaking. With a tender boat we were all taken to a jetty, from where we could explore a small bay with our kayak. Great were the small and big monkeys, who stayed at the rocks and played together.
After a good hour we went back to the boat. Shortly before lunch there was a little Cooking Lesson: with many fresh ingredients we prepared our own spring rolls, which were very tasty. After the meal we went back to Tuan Chau, our starting point of the tour.
Overall, we really liked the 2-day excursion the Halong Bay and can recommend it unreservedly.