If you go to Paris, you must visit the Eiffel Tower. If you go to New York, the Empire State Building. London, Big Ben. And in Vietnam? Halong Bay of course. But isn’t a Halong Bay tour a bit overrated?
Halong Bay, c’est quoi?
Halong is a town, Bay is bay. And in that bay there are 1969 rocks that rise majestically from the sea. Some of the ‘rock islands’ are hollow and have impressive caves. Halong Bay is now on the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
How to get there?
On every corner in Hanoi – and at various places between those corners – you can book a tour to Halong Bay. One day or several days, everything is possible. We recommend doing two days/one night. So you go a bit deeper in Halong Bay, but after two days, it’s enough. Plus you don’t sleep on the boat the second night, you stay in a hotel. And let’s be honest, a boat is wayyyy cooler.
Anyway, the damage: we paid $90 (77 euros) and booked with Sunrise.
After they pick you up in Hanoi, there is a bus ride of just under 4 hours. Once you’re there, the fun can begin. First and foremost you get a super tasty lunch and the boat starts sailing through the bay. First stop? Surprise Cave.
Caves usually don’t turn me on, but this one provided a little spark. The Surprise Cave – explorers were so impressed with it and found it a complete surprise – is gigantic.
What is more convenient than climbing to a high point on a little island and from there enjoying a beautiful view of Halong Bay? Well, the view was there, the billions of other tourists too. There was no room to really enjoy.
You also visit an oyster farm, where you learn everything about pearls and see how they try to make their catch bigger (and manipulate it). And of course, you can buy the pearls. Souvenir timmmme.
Kayaking between the rocks and feeling very small? Check!
Maybe a little bit overhyped. But still, you have to visit. One of the nicest things we found was the delicious food on the cruise and sleeping on a boat, haha. You’re spending the two days with the same small group of people and when the atmosphere is good, fine! If not, then that does change the case.
You should definitely check out Ninh Binh, the Halong Bay on land. We luuuuved it.