Destination Travel Rambles Travel Tips Vietnam ~ A Different Orient

Explore Halong Bay – the Sombre Dragon

Located east of Hanoi at northern Vietnam, Halong Bay boosts a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars. Do you know that the Halong Bay archipelago is made up of 1969 islands? It is listed as a World UNESCO Heritage Site and sometimes, identified as one of the new Natural 7 Wonders of the World.

In case you are wondering, Halong Bay actually means “Bay of Descending Dragon”. On the chilly morning after we spent a night cruising Halong Bay, a local crew told us the famous legend and history behind this natural landscape. I was struck by the pride and love in his tone for his country, land and fellow men etc.

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(Spotting the ape at Halong Bay dated Feb 2012)

The best time to visit is supposedly from March to June and there are various organised cruise packages to tour Halong Bay (i.e. day trip, 2D1N, 3D2N etc.). Based on past experience, it would be best to book your cruise in advance, especially if you are into the better quality cruises such as Bhaya Cruises. My friend and I did not manage to get a space on the famed Bhaya Cruises. Instead, we ended up with a relatively new cruise company known as AClass Cruise, which was kinda acceptable.

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(Halong Bay dated Feb 2012)

February was a cold month and the grey climate did not really accentuate the raved beauty of Halong Bay… but as John Cleats said, “the poetry of the earth is never dead”. In each season and climate, varied forms of beauty are conveyed to different individuals. I will leave the judging of beauty to you.

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The distance between Hanoi to Halong Bay takes about 3 hours with a toilet break in between. After that, we boarded a ferry that took us to our “cruise” whereby we are due to stay for a night.

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This quaint fishing village kinda reminds me of Phuket. If only it was not so cold!

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A young boy doing the flip. Fun in the rural is different from fun for city kids.

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Sailing along Halong Bay in a small boat. This small excursion allows tourists to choose between a boat ride with a local or kayaking on your own. We chose the former.

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Our deluxe room onboard AClass Cruise. Frankly, I still cannot tell the difference between deluxe and superior besides the 15USD difference. It was very cosy though. 🙂

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Activities on onboard include a DIY cooking class and sundown party with red wine and snacks, making it a nice and interactive experience.

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Have you tried squid fishing at night when the temperature is about 10 degrees? In the end, we all gave up. Nobody caught any squids but it was pretty fun!

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Surprising Caves, which was discovered by fishermen along halong bay. It’s amazing how nature works out at times. 🙂

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*Tip* If you are staying at a local guesthouse / boutique hotel, you can negotiate a good rate for your cruise package from the concierge. Alternatively, you can also get competitive prices at the nearest Sinh Café Travel (tour operator).

The above information has been complied based on various sources, including my own experience and should only be used as a reference. For more information on the destination, do check out http://www.vietnamtourism.com/

From Me to You:
A Simple Reference Guide For Your Travel In Vietnam

2 comments on “Explore Halong Bay – the Sombre Dragon

  1. Lovely photos – I did a Halong Bay trip almost ten years ago and wish I had more photos (it was back in pre-digital days) as it was a real highlight of my trip, the scenery was just so stunning.

    • haha, thanks! Maybe you should do it again and compare to see if there’s any difference ten years on!

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