“It’s overrated”, “it’s dirty”, “it’s full of tourists”. You can find a thousand opinions like that online about Halong Bay, but despite all the negative reviews, I took a chance and visited anyway. And do you know what? The experience was magical, so I’d encourage you to take the chance too.
The legend of Halong Bay
Ha Long is formed from around 2,000 islands protruding from the water. There is a legend that tells of its creation. In ancient times, when the Vietnamese had to fight many invaders, the gods sent dragons to help. Those creatures spat out a huge amount of pearls, which turned into rocks on contact with water. In fact, those dragons are still believed to be there today, hidden in caves and crevices.
Experience it from the water
The best way to see Halong Bay, which has been inscribed on the UNESCO list, is to book an organised tour. We choose a two-day, one-night cruise with Le Theatre Cruises. It was an amazing experience.
On day one, we were collected from our hotel in the morning on a bus with six other people. It was a comfortable two and a half hour ride with one stop halfway.
After arriving at the bay, we jumped on a smaller boat that took us to the actual boat where we were staying for our one-night cruise. It was great that we didn’t have to worry about our luggage until we were in our room, especially as we had big suitcases.
Next on the menu was lunch – an open buffet with traditional Vietnamese food like spring rolls, seafood and fried rice. There were also dishes like pasta and chicken.
Afternoon activities on Halong Bay
During the afternoon, the staff organised a lot of activities like kayaking, visiting caves and swimming. Despite that, we decided to take a rest as it was the only time where we didn’t have to run everywhere to see everything on our trip (check out what we got up to in Hanoi next here).
Sitting on the top of the boat, listening to relaxing music and admiring one of the seven natural wonders of the world was one of the best feelings in my life. We didn’t pass many other boats, so sometimes it felt like it was just us there. The rocks are simply incredible! You have to go and see them. And at the end of a lovely day on the bay, we had a cooking class, dinner and cocktails.
Heading to Hanoi
The next day we had some free time in the morning before being returned to our hotel in Hanoi. I normally don’t book all-inclusive trips, but for Halong Bay, there weren’t many alternatives. Overall, I was pretty happy with the experience though. I literally didn’t have to worry about anything.
The food was great, the transportation was on time, the boat was modern and clean and the staff was super nice. So don’t be put off by some of the things you’ll read and head to Halong Bay to make up your own mind first-hand. For me, the experience was unforgettable.
Where are you most excited to see when you visit Vietnam?
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