Halong Bay, Vietnam

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On my second day in Vietnam, I head to Halong Bay which is a UNESCO world heritage site.  About 3000 islands rise from the emerald waters off the Gulf of Tonkin, so Halong Bay is simply gorgeous.

Halong Bay

Halong Bay

It is about a 4 hr bus ride from Hanoi and there is major construction underway to expand the road to  accommodate the many visitors that come to visit.  Drivers in Vietnam use their horns liberally and there are about 4 million motorcycles in Hanoi so the ride is bumpy, jolting and loud.  

Hanoi

We pass many rice fields and vegetable farms along the way.  Vendors selling kumquat trees and branches of cherry blossom dot the roads as the Vietnamese prepare for Tet or the Vietnamese New Year.

Halong Bay

It was drizzly and cloudy when we started our journey but the sun came out when we got to the bay and it was glorious. I was in a small group tour and there were only 6 of us on a single boat which served us lunch as we motored around the islands.

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There was an upper-deck to lounge with breathtaking views. The sun’s rays sparkled and gleamed on the top of the water as we pass floating fishing villages, waving fishermen on boats and the gigantic islands. Life has certainly been very good on this trip.

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The food is cooked fresh on board and lunch is a simple affair. We are served standard Vietnamese fare which means it is still pretty darn good. We started with a cucumber salad in a sweet rice vinegar dressing. Then spring rolls, hot and crispy before moving onto deep fried pork topped with sesame seeds.

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Mixed Vegetable with calamari next.  The waiter then prepared and served steamed fish with scallions and ginger. Sautéed mixed vegetables next and we end our meal with fresh bananas.

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HB13Along the way, we also visited the Dao Go cave which can be accessed by 120 steps. It has amazing stalactite and stalagmite formations lit with different colored lights which truthfully made it rather cheesy.

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Nevertheless, it was still pretty interesting and magnificent. Some of the limestone structures are gigantic and did you know that the calcium deposits only grow about 3 cm a year?

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HB2It was such a lovely outing and if you do go, I recommend that you book early and go with a small group tour. I went on a day tour with Intrepid Travel but there are also tours where you can stay overnight on a boat docked at Halong Bay.

At the end of our 3 hour tour but unlike Gilligan(!), we come onshore and headed back to Hanoi.

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Vietnam has been such an unexpected surprise. Hanoi is crowded with 8 million inhabitants all functioning and living in controlled chaos but it works here and people seem happy, friendly and excited at what the future holds for them with their growing economy. Au revoir or tam biet Vietnam and thank you for being so welcoming, warm and wonderful. I can’t wait to come back and explore more.

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11 comments to Halong Bay, Vietnam

  • leilamhartley  says:

    Wow! Those rock formations are amazing! I would love to see that some day. Great pictures and the food looks delicious!

  • foreignfeasts  says:

    I had such a great time in Vietnam and enjoyed Hanoi immensely. I highly recommend it as a destination and especially Halong Bay which is gorgeous. Glad you’re enjoying the posts.

  • The Brunette  says:

    I am going to share these with my father. He was in the Gulf of Tonkin on a submarine many years ago … You photos are so great, I am interested in hearing what he will say after the passage of 50 years.

    • foreignfeasts  says:

      So glad you were able to share these with your dad. Curious to know what he thought of pics too. Especially glad you are enjoying the posts. Thanks for the encouragement. :)

  • Sarah V.  says:

    Love the photos! Safe travels, Lila.

    • foreignfeasts  says:

      So glad you’re enjoying the posts and photos. Halfway through the trip already.

      • foreignfeasts  says:

        Thanks as always for reading and the encouragement and support! :)

  • Anne  says:

    Really enjoying your narratives. The rock formations are so unique. I’m going to share your journey with my parents. I know they will appreciate it.

    • foreignfeasts  says:

      So glad you’re enjoying the blog. I am trying to blog regularly and I find plane trips to be the best time for writing!

  • foreignsanctuary  says:

    Halong Bay was one of the highlights of my trip to Vietnam – I loved kayaking at sunset, the sunrise, the caves, and the secluded beach. It looks like you had an amazing time there as well. Your cave pictures are awesome!

    • foreignfeasts  says:

      Thank You for the kind words and follow. Vietnam exceeded my expectations and I just fell in love with Hanoi. So vibrant and exciting. Can’t wait to go back and explore some more. :)

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