We did a 2 night, 3 day tour of Ha Long Bay which is about 5 hours trip on the bus from Hanoi. It’s only about 150km but the Vietnamese traffic is terrible and progress is slow. This highway is notorious for being dangerous and we witnessed the aftermath of a road fatality on the way.
Ha Long Bay is world class in terms of natural beauty. Huge limestone karsts tower over the calm water and hide many stunning secluded beaches. One of the nicest spots we’ve seen. To make it even more beautiful you need to squint a little bit to make your eyes blurry so you don’t notice the rubbish floating in the water.
We stayed one night on a boat, called a Junk, which was really fun considering the natural beauty and the novelty of staying on a boat. The rooms were good quality with queen bed and ensuite so it was just like being in a decent hotel. We visited a cave, went kayaking, stopped on a beach to climb up one of the limestone casts and generally just enjoyed the scenery from the top deck of the boat. At night there was karaoke in the boat’s restaurant where nearly every song was an American power ballad. Squid fishing was also on the cards at night. Joe caught a tiny squid. There was no doubt the squid was way too small to consider keeping but the locals running the boat chucked it in the bucket with a few other tiny squid they had already caught.
Some people live out on the water on floating houses. They make their living selling stuff from their little boat shops or by fishing. As we travelled through the bay was saw many little floating villages.
The second night we stayed on a beautiful private beach on an island. Just us, the other people on the tour, a few bungalows, the beach and the awesome scenery. It was a perfect little paradise. We could have stayed there several nights but the tour only allowed for one. If we had our time again we’d organize our own way there and stay a while. Mind you we have heard that getting around Ha Long Bay independently can be difficult and prone to scams.
Next morning it was back on the boat to the mainland, then on the bus back to Hanoi.