While we were in Hanoi we knew that we wanted to take a trip to Ha Long Bay. This natural beauty has become more an more popular for tourists in the last ten years and we can see why. We have never seen anything like these amazing limestone formations that rise out of the turquoise water.
Just from seeing everyones pictures on Instagram we knew that we had to visit Ha Long Bay. We decided to wait till we got to Hanoi to book our trip as we weren’t sure on dates when we would be going or how long for. This meant that we booked our trip just two days before going on it.
Although we did have a few good offers from the agents in Hanoi, we actually booked online with Legend Ha Long Cruises. Which meant we paid $120 USD for two days and one night on the boat (from what we heard on the ship we actually paid the least amount of money to be there too!) This price included our transportation to and from Ha Long Bay from Hanoi, all our meals while on the ship, and English speaking guide, kayaking, cooking class, visiting surprising cave and ti top island and a tai chi class.
On our first day arriving on the boat around lunch time we were given our rooms and were served lunch, in a communal dining area, as the boat sailed out of the harbour and in to Ha Long Bay. There were some incredible views as you weave in and out of the huge limestone formations and the other boats. Grace said it was like going past the jurassic park island *que us singing the jurassic park theme tune* because they are covered in foliage and just immense in size.
After lunch and a short recuperation in our room we headed to Ti Top island. One of the only islands in Ha Long bay to be given a name. Ti Top was actually a Russian astronaught! (much Wow, such history.) He became a very good friend to Vietnam and popular with the people and the government alike and so honoured him with the naming of the island.
On Ti Top island there is a small beach where you can lay and look out to the other islands and many of the other boats. There is also a look out on top of the island that is possible to get to. The views from this look out are incredible and really started to put this experience up there for us. Beware though, the steps are steep and not always big enough for people going both ways. We almost died going up. 30 degree heat and lots of steps = lots of water guzzled down at the top.
After meeting back up with our group and taken back to the boat we drove to Lan Ha Bay which is a bit quieter than Ha long. This is where we would be staying the night but first we were taken out again for swimming and kayaking. Seriously if you can do these, please do! Kayaking for an hour in the bay and around the floating villages, at sunset was a dream. We weren’t very good at kayaking mind you but we tried, we ain’t going to be in the olympics anytime soon.
Taking our small boat back to the ship as darkness fell across the bay, we reflected. This had been one of the best days ever, everyone fell silent and a calm seemed to cover us all. We were given some down time to get ready for dinner and our cooking class.
So just before dinner we were all taught by our guide Ken how to make spring rolls. (which just happen to be some of our favourite food here in Vietnam, we’re taking this recipe back with us!) Chomping down on the spring rolls as a starter they continued to bring dish after dish of amazing food.
They fed us well there. After dinner there was an option for karaoke, we weren’t brave enough, but one of the waiters decided to give us some logic problems using chopsticks. Ourselves and the guys we were sitting with spent forever trying to figure out how to make a horse turn round or make 4 triangles out of 2.
Later we were told that we could try squid fishing. We were warned that it wasn’t squid season but thats no reason not to try! This seemed like a big hit with the kids on our boat as they started waving poles and hooks in the air. We finished off our night relaxing looking over the bay, lit up with boat lights, on the top deck. It was glorious.
The next morning we awoke at 5:30 to be ready for our sunrise tai chi class. The class wasn’t an expert one but interesting to do anyway and when the view is as amazing as sunrise at Ha Long Bay, it wasn’t a bad way to start the day.
After breakfast we headed for our last activity, visiting surprising cave. Surprising because of how huge the cave is! It is made up of three parts, the first room- a decent size cave but nothing special. The second quite a bit larger, you start thinking “ooo this is big”. The third. OH MA LORD. It is bloody massive, and covered in stalactites and stalagmites. These caves also had some amazing views looking out over Ha Long Bay from different view points when going through the caves.
Finally back to the boat where we checked out of our rooms and were served lunch (again delicious and so many dishes) on our way back to the harbour to finish our journey and catch our bus back to Hanoi.
This trip to Ha Long Bay has been one of the best experiences of Vietnam and maybe even ever! We are so happy that we crossed this off of our bucket list and we only regret that we couldn’t stay longer. Guess we will just have to come back…