At the beginning of this year, I decided to make a big move across the water – from the US to Vietnam. When I first arrived in Vietnam, I landed in the capital city, Hanoi. The capital is located in northern Vietnam, which is home to some absolutely beautiful wonders. One of those wonders is called Ha Long Bay. It’s an official World Heritage Site, and is known for its hundreds of limestone islands and bright green water. The following is my experience visiting Ha Long Bay.
Getting to Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay is about four hours outside of Hanoi, the closest city with an airport. You can either rent a motorbike and drive yourself, or you can go with a tour company. I decided to go with a tour company, as they arrange everything for you. Your accommodation, transportation, food, and activities are all planned in advance, so it just makes the trip less stressful. I hired a tour from Golden Bay Cruises for two days and one night.
The cruise tour company put us all in a large bus for the four hour trip. We left at around 8am, and arrived in Ha Long Bay just after 12pm.
Down By the Bay
Once we finally made our way on the boat, the ooing and awing began. Every single turn was just a gorgeous as the last. There were limestone islands, green water ripples, and a sky that reflected the deep green ocean. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of this magnificent place.
Our boat was huge – it had a rooftop deck area with seating. Inside was a large dining room and bar for meals. And on the bottom floor was an alignment of dorms. Each room had two beds and a bathroom.
Floating the Water
Just after lunch, it was time to get in the water. The tour company provided kayaks for us to use and explore the limestone islands with. Each kayak was a two-seater, so I grabbed my friend and started paddling. We were free to see anything we wanted, and man was that an experience. Getting up and close to the limestone was so impressive.
Fishing for squid was another options for the day time activity. A lot of us tried, but only a few of us actually caught something. It was still fun anyways.
Pro Tip: Check the weather. I was in Ha Long Bay in February, so the weather was pretty chilly, and it even rained here and there. While the weather was cooler, the crowds were minimal. You have to choose what is most important to you during your trip.
The Nightlife: To Sleep, or Not to Sleep
After a few hours of kayaking, we had dinner together in the dining room. The tour I chose included dinner, but the drinks were extra. If you want to be cheap, just have water with your meal. They make ordering a drink super easy, and sometimes you forget it’s not free. So be careful about drinks. From 9pm to 11pm, the bar was open for “unlimited” beer, so I just waited for then.
They did end up running out of beer, but what do I expect when I choose the party cruise? The evening was full of music, dancing, and getting to know the other patrons. I met people from, literally, all over the world. I met other Americans, Brazilians, Argentinians, English, German, and Japanese. It was a great medley of people, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Even the Vietnamese employees were a lot of fun.
Sunrise Kayaking Trip
The morning after a beer filled night, we woke up at the crack of dawn for a sunrise boat excursion. We had a guide this time, and he took us through caves in the bay. The caves were so fun to see and go through, some of them were super low and forced us to duck our heads. It was a beautiful place, and I just loved that we got to explore it up close.
Cooking Vietnamese Food
Lastly, our trip was completed with a cooking lesson from a Vietnamese person. We worked together to make spring rolls, which was super easy and delicious. Then we had lunch with our spring rolls on the side and a view of the bay outside the boat.
After our amazing lunch, it was time to cruise back to the base and hop back on the boat. It was a great time. I was there for two days and one night, but I could have easily spent more time here. Ha Long Bay has hiking options, other caves to explore, and more water to swim in. It’s a place with an unlimited amount of wonders, and I would love to come back.
Ha Long Bay is a fantastic place to visit during your trip to Vietnam. It’s full of breathtaking views around every corner. Have you been to Ha Long Bay? Let us know what you think of it in the comments below! Be sure to contact us if you need help planning your next trip!