25 November 2016

MY HALONG BAY EXPERIENCE

Vietnam never ceased to amaze me and Halong Bay did not fall short of expectations. I heard a few fellow backpackers along the way say Halong Bay was overrated and 'pretty but nothing special.' 

I have to disagree. 

The Cruise
We had the afternoon spent on a cruise boat; the best way to see the limestone islands, caves and glistening waters. Once we got cruising, we were able to lounge on the roof and really enjoy the views before being called down to enjoy a seafood lunch. We had some stuffed crab and king prawns accompanied by noodles and spring rolls - yum! It was so peaceful..




What to do in Halong Bay?
Halong Bay is well known for its unusually formed islands dotted around the waters where many of them appear to look like animals or teapots (our guide spent a good 10 minutes trying to convince us a rock looked like a hen) so I think you need to prepare yourself for the corny but slightly amusing tour guides doing the same thing.
There are also a few caves to see; we visited Dau Go Cave but in all honesty, I didn't enjoy it. It was very overcrowded and it was lit up with tacky colourful lights that felt like it belonged in Disneyland. It just wasn't very genuine and felt like an obvious tourist trap.
However, one of the highlights was getting to kayak in the beautiful emerald waters surrounded by lush islands. We hopped in two to a kayak and paddled around before we all started splashing each other and racing back to our cruise boat. It was such a relaxed afternoon.


Where to Stay?
Many people opt to stay overnight on a junk cruise, which I would have loved to do - imagine waking up to views like this? However, a lot of backpackers head to Castaway Island, which is super popular for their partying, as well as sandy beach and buffet meals.

The reason I've done this blog post sharing my experience rather than giving an in depth guide is due to the fact that I did this cruise as a part of my tour group, so everything was organised in advance for me and I can't give much advice other than what I've heard from other travellers. I would definitely recommend seeing Halong Bay, whether you like caves, national parks or relaxed water sports, such as kayaking through lagoons or stand up paddle boarding. I would love to return back here one day and see the other gorgeous sights Halong Bay has to offer. 

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