Halong Bay is dotted with 1,600 limestone karst and islets. It is a stunning natural wonder in Northern Vietnam. It is also located close to the Chinese border. The tiny islets is covered by forest, and the limestone pillars are rising from the emerald waters of the bay. This is a truly awe-inspiring sight and a vision of beauty. It is not a surprise that this is northern Vietnam´s number one-tourism hub. See below for our 2 days in Halong Bay program.
Read more: 8 Best Day Trips from Hanoi, Vietnam
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UNESCO World Heritage Site
This beautiful area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994. According to geologists, the tower-karst scenery was formed from river erosion, chemical action, rising sea levels and changes in the tropical climate over millions of years.
Most visitors decides to embark on an all-inclusive cruise tour that includes sleeping on board a wooden junk boat. The most tours on offers are either for 1 or 2 nights. We, like so many others, opted for a 2-night cruise arranged by Blue Dragon Tours.
Halong Bay or Cat Ba island?
A growing number of tourists decides to abstain the main bay completely, and head directly to Cat Ba Islands. From there you can do plenty of day trips. This way you avoid the insane amount of tourists in Halong Bay,. You can also enjoy less-visited, but just as alluring Lan Ha Bay instead! Or Halong Bay for that matter. Looking back, we probably would have done this 🙂
Check out: Accommodation in Cat Ba Island
We got picked up at our hotel early in the morning and was transported by bus to Halong City. The bus snakes through the countryside around the Red River Delta. The rumors has it that views of water buffaloes, paddy fields and local farm workers is on offer. We wouldn’t know though as we slept the entire bus ride.. 🙂
On arrival at Halong City we boarded a traditional wooden junk boat, operated by Glory Legend Cruise.
Glory Legend Cruises
The Glory Legend Cruises have several boats, and our boat had 22 cabins. They have been operating in Halong Bay since 2014. The boat feature quite spacious, well-appointed cabins with en-suite bathrooms. All cabins are designed in a traditional style, and upholds the same services and standards.
Our “floating hotel” included 2 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 2 dinners. It also included a fully-packed program with lots of different activities to chose from.
TIP! Remember to check out how many cabins the cruise have. The fewer cabins, the fewer people on the boat. You should also check out which types of people reviews each cruise. Is it young couples, families with small children or seniors? With this in mind, it should be easier for you to decide on which supplier to book with 🙂
PROGRAM DAY 1
After check in and safety instructions, we were provided with a welcome drink whilst beginning our sail into Halong Bay. We enjoyed a delicious lunch whilst passing the most beautiful areas such as Incense Burner, Dog Stone Islet, Fighting Cock, Soi Sim Beach and Coconut Three Island.
Kayaking in Halong Bay
After lunch we embarked on our first Halong Bay-adventure. We could choose from visiting a Pearl farm or go kayaking, and we obviously chose kayaking. So much fun! 🙂
Paddling around the karsts allowed us to experience the limestone towers from a completely different angle. Up close and without the hum of an engine in the background. It was absolutely lovely!
Ti Top Beach
Once the kayaking was complete, we traveled back to our boat for the next excursion for the day. Namely a visit to the beautiful Ti Top Beach. There were so. many. people. here, and we were queuing all the way up the mountain to enjoy the panoramic view of Halong Bay. Puh
After dinner, we had the options of enjoying a cooking class. Or take advantage of the happy hour or try our luck at squid fishing from the boat. We ended up watching the magnificent sunset over Halong Bay together with a couple of friends we made on the cruise 🙂
PROGRAM DAY 2
Early the next morning we woke up to a gorgeous sunrise with thousands of islets. This certainly created the perfect backdrop for our 30 minute Tai Chi class.
Cua Van Floating Village
After breakfast, we transferred to a lovely day boat for our visit to one of the floating villages in Halong Bay. Cua Van Village is nestled in the quiet coves of the bay. Here you will find a small community with around 700 residents, permanently living in the root of Ngoc Mountain.
The people are fishermen, and their lives are tied to the ocean with floating homes providing both their transportation and shelter. They can tie their homes to their neighbors, or they can drift away. A typical day is hunting for lobsters, shellfish, squid and fish. It sounds quite fascinating, doesn’t it? 🙂
Me Cung Cave
Next up was a visit to Me Cung Cave, also known as Maze cave. The entrance looks like a house roof carving deep into the slopes of the islands. It sits approximately 25 meters above sea level. According to archaeologists, the cave belongs to preliminary Halong culture. More known as the New Stone Age, about 7,000 – 10,000 years ago.
The ground of the Me Cung Cave is formed on a 1,2 meter thick layer of fossilized shells. More importantly, making it an indicator of Halong´s marine history.
After lunch, we returned to the the main boat for an afternoon of relaxing and soaking in the spectacular views of the bay. This was also about the same time that the new guests arrived at the boat.
Kindly note that we spent the entire afternoon of Day 2 backtracking the program we had the first day. This was quite disappointing. If we had known this, we would have opted for the 1-night cruise, or based ourselves at Cat Ba Islands instead.