Leaving chaotic Hanoi we found peace and tranquility cruising Ha Long Bay.
More than 3000 limestone-peaked islands sheltered by shimmering seas make Halong Bay one of Vietnam’s top tourist draws as well as a Unesco World Heritage Site. An overnight cruise allows you to adore the scenery through the day’s dramatic changes of light: rise early for an ethereal misty morn, kayak into the tidal-carved grottoes and lagoons and track the pastel parade of the sinking sun. If you’re still hankering for more karst action, move on to less touristy Lan Ha Bay. Lonely Planet Vietnam
Vietnam – and all of South East Asia are generally considered destinations where you get a big bank for your buck. In the early planning stage we debated whether we wanted to splurge on a Ha Long Bay Cruise, a unique UNESCO site often featured in films. We decided to do the cruise and slowly travel in Vietnam instead of including Cambodia and Angkor Wat on this trip.
Why is it a splurge?
Our accommodations in Vietnam generally cost $25-35 a night, but a 2 day/1 night Halong Bay Cruise excursion cost $300 for both of us – and the 3 day/2 night option was $450.
The first day required a 4-hour drive from Hanoi in a small bus.
The next day we were taken to a karst where we explored both a sandy beach and a cave.
Returning to the boat we watched a food demonstration and learned how to make fresh spring rolls with rice paper, lettuce, shrimp, egg, peanuts, carrot, green onion, and cucumber. I love the salty, sweet, sour, bitter of the Vietnamese fish dipping sauce.
The town of Halong Bay looked interesting enough to have enjoyed a few days but we had to head back on the 4-hour journey to Hanoi.
After this refreshing interlude another night in Hanoi didn’t bother us.
It’s time to move on to see a different side of Vietnam: Hue, Hoi An and the beaches of DaNang.
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