Halong Bay oh Halong Bay. Declared as one of the UNESCO world heritage site, this place in Vietnam should be included in your must see spots when travelling. I have long been dreaming about seeing this place and it happened on my 30th birthday celebration in Vietnam.
I have fell in love with Vietnam. Visiting Ho Chi Minh City 2 years ago, I went back to Vietnam to visit Hanoi this time and made my way to Halong Bay too, for a short day tour trip. I was lucky enough to meet David who arranged my entire trip. He booked me and my friend for a day tour to Halong Bay which costs us $35 inclusive of transportation, entrance fee tickets, lunch and a whole lotta laughter. :)
We started our journey by the tour company picking us up at our hotel. Based from my experience, tours in Vietnam usually starts by picking up tourists from their respective hotel since the members of the tour consist of different vacationers who are staying in different hotels. We were picked up by our tour guide, Hiep (which by the way is hilarious) in a mini bus that can carry around 20 passengers. Day tour to Halong Bay starts at 8:00 AM.
Halong bay is a 4 hour drive from Hanoi. I never asked how far that is in kilometers for I don't really care. One thing I realized is that, the travel time is actually not that long if you're travelling at 80-100 km/hour, which I think would be the case if it is here in the Philippines. But since it is in Vietnam, where people are quite disciplined and must obliged to their 60 km/hour rule in their expressways, the travel time that can be compressed to a 2 hour drive became 4 hours. It wasn't that boring anyway since there are a lot of things to see around their countryside.
We reached the Tourist Wharf at around 12 noon and waited for our tour guide to purchase all the tickets for the entire group and finally boarded our own little boat.
|Bai Chai Tourist Wharf|
|Ticket (included in the $35 tour fee)|
|Huy Loc is the name of our boat. I wonder what that means exactly?|
As soon as we boarded the boat, we were seated in a group of 6 to share a sumptuous lunch of fresh sea foods, tofu, spring rolls, vegetables, and fruits. Drinks are not included, so you must pay for whatever choice of drink you have. In my case, a cold crisp and refreshing Hanoi Beer that costs $2. Sodas costs $1 per can.
Just in time after finishing our lunch is our arrival at a floating village in Halong Bay. We stopped for about an hour or so for the rest of us to kayak and paddle around the village, for an extra fee which is not included in the tour. Since we're lazy tourists, my friend and I decided to just lounge around the boat and take lotsa pictures.
After going to the floating village, I was surprised to know that another destination is in the itinerary. The guide told us that we were heading to a cave a few minutes away from the floating village. Beware claustrophobics and super lazy tourists. You need to muster up some energy to climb up 200 steps to reach the cave's entrance!
|Dong Thien Cun|
One thing I have realized when we were traveling to Vietnam is that, their tourism department worked profoundly to make the tours organized. Everything is coordinated and pleasant. Anyway, going back to the cave...
Before entering, Hiep, our tour guide asked us to open up our imagination, to explore the inner children in us, to see things inside the cave, to let lose and just enjoy the beautiful gift of nature, and to find the very famous representation of the "Vietnam Quality". (hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhaha!, alright this is a private joke, but if in case Hiep the tour guide will handle your tour, ask him, he surely will love to have it explained to you.)
|Do you see a lion? An elephant? A bear? A turtle? Oh, there's the Vietnam Quality!|
|Breath taking! Parang pag tumapat ka dyan eh kukunin ka na ni Lord.|
There are a lot of tourists inside but everyone follows a queue till the exit. Groups with their tour guides stops at a spot once in a while to explain different images that they can see out of stalactites and stalagmites. Time inside the cave would be from around 30-45 minutes.
We were welcomed by another breathtaking sight of Halong Bay as soon as we got out of the cave.
The tour was brought to an end by a platter of fresh fruit for all the tourists in the boat. We then head back to dry land and boarded our bus back to Hanoi.
Some tips about this tour:
- Your best bet for this tour would be Halong Galaxy Cruise Tours.
- The bus have little leg rooms. Be sure to stretch on stopovers.
- A bottle of water will be given at the start of the tour. Drinks like beer costs $2, soda $1.
- Make sure to inform the tour guide about your food allergies as early as possible. It's troublesome to take care of allergies in the middle of the tour.
- There are a few souvenir shops in stopovers and outside the cave, though the prices are a bit higher than the ones you will find in the Old Quarter.
- One can opt to stay in the boat if you don't want to go kayaking or go inside the cave.
- Lastly, take a loooooot of photos! Halong Bay is gorgeous especially on a sunny day.
Here are some more photos of Halong Bay.
Never miss this tour when visiting Hanoi. If you have more time, it's ideal to take the overnight tour package in Halong Bay.
For inquiries about the tour, I recommend booking through my friend David. Here's his email address: