HaLong Bay – The Descending Dragon

HaLong Bay - a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The bay derives its name from the legend of the dragon that landed here and helped the vietnamese defend their country. (Ha) descending and (Long) dragon. 

Not all the islands and islets have been named but quite a few of them are named fromtheir shape like Voi (elephant), Ga Choi (Fighting Cock), Khi monkey) and Mai Nha (roof)

Hạ Long Bay has an area of around 1,553 km2, including 1,969 (you are not reading it wrong) islands and islets. 

The bay extends 120 kilometers along the coastline. The core (where most cruise ships visit) of the bay has an area of 334 km2 with a high density of 775 islets which is a triangle formed by 3 corners: Đầu Gỗ island, Ba Hầm lake and Cống Tây island.

It is easy to get lost in the middle of this stunning landscape of beauty and greatness but it is worth your adventure!

This is what the bay looks like in the brochures

What you see in the brochures and what you see in reality is not always the same thing.

Unfortunately we visited HaLong Bay in early february. Our trip to Vietnam included a visit to the south and to Saigon. So to avoid the extreme heat there we had to go this early and the price we paid was a misty and cold Halong Bay.

Halong Bay is a 3 hours drive from Hanoi

Once you get there you will have to wait for your turn as it is a rather busy port. There are some 500 licenced cruise-vessels competing for space. 

Once you get on board it’s a quite comfortable experience and even if our ship was of the rather worn and not at all up to the standard promised by the tour operator in the initial program. There it was stated that the ship was just a few weeks old. But as we were determined not to let false marketing ruin our journey, we settled down to enjoy the scenery passing slowly by.

Some of the small islet even have babies

The cruise offers a choice of excursions such as cave-wandering and sightseeing

Inside the so-called Surprise Caves there are some impressive formations in the limestone

Even though the bay  covers more than 1500 km² it does appear to be rather cvrowded at times especially close to the main spots of interest such as those caves.

We are not Alone

Not all visitors are equally welcome – though calling them junk is a bit strong!

Dinner is served in style

As usual, the food is served with more emphasis on apperance than taste. Even if we eat with both our eyes and palate it must be said that it looks nice.

It looks good enough to eat

The floating fishing village

Early next morning it’s time for another excursion. This time it is for one of the  floating villages for which the bay is famous. The whole thing is extremely touristy, but Hey! That’s what we are!

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The Travelling Daddy

There are many different ways to travel – by air, by train, by boat, by car or on foot. You can travel alone or with a companion, in a group or with children. You can bring a bag, you can carry it all on your back or you can bring a suitcase.

Our way is with companion, and as far away from backpacking, from children, from dolphine clubs as you can possibly get.

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