Vietnam’s Halong Bay is a lesson in gaining perspective. Some people can’t see the ocean in between all the boats in the bay. Others, me among them, almost don’t notice that, amidst the ocean, the gorgeous views and the beautiful sunsets and sunrises, one is not actually entirely alone in these beautiful parts.
Halong Bay is a beautiful bay near Hanoi, similar to the region between Krabi and Phuket in South Thailand, or in its land counterpart, the karst formations surrounding Guilin in China.
You should go there at least once in a lifetime.Halong Bay is first and foremost a pleasure trip, with time spend leisurely on a boat. Accommodation and meals are all included. You also have the option of taking part in activities taking place off the boat – depending on your chosen Halong Bay tour. Not all of those activies of the different Halong Bay tours offered are included in the price. Among them is venturing out into the bay on your own with a kayak, and visiting a grotto or a limestone cave.
Halong Bay – chilling away the day 🙂
Views of the bay:
During the day I voluntarily took part in a safety training session.
The above-mentioned limestone cave in Halong Bay:
To round things off, the sunset – well – admittedly a little before. 🙂
For your travel planning: You are best off going into a backpacker hostel or a mid-range hotel in Hanoi – check Hostelworld for names – and book one of the Halong Bay tours, that at least is a two-day trip, at reception. Book neither a really cheap, nor one a very expensive tour. The best value-for-money Halong Bay tours are the ones that cost around 40 USD per day (price of December 2010). Ask what kind of boat you’ll be getting, and whether your cabin comes with its own shower, and – most importantly – ask whether it is a small boat with no more than eight cabins, plus whatever else is important for you to know before you book. You’ll then be picked up from your hotel, even if you booked the trip in a different hotel.
Travel agencies in central Hanoi charge twice the amount for the exact same Halong Bay tours. It is therefore best if you don’t even set foot into one those.