To top off an already amazing trip, the last main event of our vacation was at Hạ Long Bay, famous for its uniquely gorgeous landscape. Even though this segment of the trip was the most touristy and least spontaneous, it was a worthwhile vacation destination. The beautiful vistas in every direction, cave exploring, and plentiful food made Hạ Long Bay a place to remember.
We had booked a tour ahead of time since we knew we wouldn’t have time to shop around and haggle for a better price. We ended up paying $120 USD per person for two days and one night, each getting our own room on a small all-inclusive cruise with a very friendly tour guide named Taller. Once we made it to our boat around noon, we were served a large array of seafood. Usually I’m not a big fan of seafood but I stepped a bit out of my comfort zone and was surprised that I enjoyed most of it. After lunch, we headed to Hạ Long Bay for kayaking. This was honestly my least favorite part of the tour since it was very crowded with tourists. Similar to Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng, there were some cute but pretty controversial monkeys in the bay that were placed there, likely for the benefit of tourists. That being said, I enjoyed paddling around the bay, getting up close to the water and rocky walls. Unfortunately, I did not get any photos during this part of the tour since I did not have a safe way of keeping my phone dry, sorry!
The second stop on our cruise was at the Surprise Cave which we hiked up to from the shore. As expected, the views from the cave entrance were amazing and the cave itself was a sight to behold. Something unique about this cave is the ceiling which has been smoothed by water and wind. Apparently, the cave used to be filled with water and so the cave ceiling is distinctly smooth. Another interesting feature which I was unable to capture in a photo was the limestone which sparkles under a bright light. After the cave, we were all exhausted and hungry for dinner. Taller guided us in making Vietnamese spring rolls and then we had a huge dinner with lots of seafood, of course.
The second day of our Hạ Long Bay vacation started with a hike to the top of Ti-Top island where we got to soak in some amazing views, though with lots of other tourists. After taking tons of photos at the top, we headed back down to hang out at the small beach at the base of the mountain.
After one more amazing meal and some extra time for photos from the boat’s rooftop deck, we made our way back to Hà Nội, where Sean and I will be spending the next two months. I knew that this segment of the trip would be touristy, but it was worth it for the gorgeous views. As many have told me in the past, Hạ Long Bay is an essential stop in Vietnam just to get a glimpse of its iconic landscape. If I were to do it again however, I would try to make it to Cát Bà since I’ve heard that it’s less touristy and has more hiking opportunities.
We are almost caught up to where Sean and I are in Hà Nội! We’ll be posting an update soon along with a quick summary of our two week vacation in Vietnam.