Ah, another UNESCO World Heritage Site that I’ve been chasing. Finally got to see this one for myself after a long time of daydreaming from pictures on Instagram.
I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews of Ha Long Bay. Some people say it’s a must and others say it’s a waste of time. I tend to not listen to what people say… so, I had to go see it for myself. And, the verdict? It’s a must!
You can find tours to Ha Long bay for pretty cheap but the tours will be an all day tour, so make sure you set aside a whole day for this. I booked my tour through my hotel and it was only $35. They picked me up at around 8am and it’s about a three and a half hour drive, with a small break in between. Once you get there, there are TONS of people waiting at and around the harbor. There are different tours you can book. If you want to be fancy, there are luxury cruises as well. There are also overnight cruises if you want to spend more than day at Ha Long.
The boat for the cruise.
The cruise I chose was perfect for me… cheap, decent and just right to the point. My tour included hotel pick up, lunch, Ha Long Bay tour, cave tour and hotel drop off. For $35, I was expecting a crappy lunch but I was pleasantly surprised. They served us 10 different dishes! They even had vegetarian options available. The food was served family style and there was rice, calamari, fish, chicken, vegetables and some other dishes, all of which were really good!Didn’t get a really good photo of all of the food. But it was really good!
While you’re eating lunch, the boat makes it’s way to Ha Long Bay. After I finished eating, I went up to the top deck of the boat and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. The weather was perfect when I went. Not too hot, thank goodness.
After sailing for about 45 minutes, we stopped and we got to choose between a 4 person boat or a kayak. I chose the boat so that I could take beautiful photos instead of row myself around. This area WAS crowded and it was actually quite difficult to get some decent pictures. After rowing around for about 20 minutes, we got back into our boats and made our way to the caves. I definitely recommend choosing the package with the cave tour. The caves were pretty cool and definitely worth it.
You can choose between riding a boat or kayak.
Beautiful views! Got lucky too… the weather was perfect.
We spent about an hour touring the caves and after we headed back to the boat. Then, we made our way back to the harbor and back to our bus. I arrived back in Hanoi around 8pm.
Touring inside the caves.
All in all, Ha Long Bay is a definite must if you’re in Northern Vietnam. The views were amazing and you can say you visited a UNESCO World Heritage Site… pretty cool huh!