Halong Bay, beautiful trip but read the itinerary first …

Without a doubt Halong Bay is a must see for everyone visiting Vietnam.  This breathtaking UNESCO heritage site is also one of the  Seven Natural Wonders of the world and is not surprisingly one of the most popular attractions in Vietnam.

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Rows and rows of giant limestone hills poking out of the water
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They look like limestone icebergs

Most of the islands in the bay is in the form of limestone pillars emerging high above the water surface. In 1962, Vietnam established the bay ” the  monument landscape ” . In 1994, UNESCO has placed it on its World Heritage List .

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The pictures simple don’t make justice of the magnificent Halong Bay

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There are plenty of tour operators offering different cruise packages.   It was hard to make a decision so we decided to go with a recommendation from our hotel.    Needles to say it wasn’t the best choice and this was a good lesson for us to do more homework next time.   We got picked from our hotel early morning and after  4 hours of driving we arrived into a new marina in Halong Bay. Well our ship wasn’t exactly what t we were expecting, an  older  and worn out  wooden ship.   We tried to overlook that ,  in the end  we were there for the stunning views and spectacular scenery.   Fortunately, the weather was great, sunny with calm waters despite the beginning of the  winter.    The first day we had two stops .  First stop was to see the Surprise Cave . We’ve seen many caves in Thailand and Laos , so we did not expect anything special , but this cave  truly surprised us .  It was much larger than expected.  At first  the cave seemed like a narrow  one, but with just few more steps into the cave, it became bigger and bigger.     It was a truly a magnificent cave.

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The second stop was a small floating village where we hopped into a kayak.  We were able to paddle into two  lovely lagoons  through a limestone tunnels .

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It was very enjoyable , and lasted about an hour.

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We spend the night in a small harbor.

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Beautiful sunset

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The next morning, we learned we aren’t going to continue on a boat but we will take a bus through the Cat Ba island to our next destination, Monkey Island.    We were very disappointed,  after all we were there to see those beautiful limestone formations.    Unfortunately that supposed to be in the program (that we didn’t read it) prior to booking the trip.   In the morning on our way to the  island we went by a small fishing village.

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The Monkey Resort on the island with the same name was actually very nice, with picturesque white sandy beach.

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Our bungalow was large with a private balcony, situated directly on a beach.  In the afternoon we climbed over the “top” to the other side of the island.   We encountered several monkeys… not without a reason the island is named  Monkey Island.

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The next day, we cruised again for couple hours through the beautiful Halong Bay back to the marina. We finished the cruising about 11am.

In conclusion we had a wonderful weather, but the time spent cruising wasn’t simply enough.   Well, that is a good reason to come back again…when, we don’t know, but hoping to be back Soon!

Practical Information:

Do your Homework!  Our 3 days / 2 nights Monkey cruise cost $170/person.   The fee included all transportation and meals, except drinks (not even water).