How We get Cruising Ha Long Bay?

We bought a motorbike and were ready for our first test to see how well she would ride. It was a 170km from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay. It was amazing to see how much you actually miss when you are cramped on the bus. It seems that you are a little more connected to your surroundings on a motorcycle.

The road up to Ha Long Bay was fairly easy and straightforward. Living near the ocean all my life it’s amazing how much you miss the water. After four hours of turning and winding through rice fields and corn crops, we were struck by a large expanse of limestone cliff faces. We rode in awe along the foreshore, the sea breeze hitting my face with the unmistakable taste of salt. I instantly fell in love with this place. After 2 months away from the water, it was great to be back at the ocean and I couldn’t wait to jump in and feel the refreshingly cool water on my body.

Junk

Ha Long Bay is a tourist town and the bay is lined with hundreds of Junk Ships. No, they aren’t full of junk but they are full of tourists! The cruises range in price all depending on the style of accommodation and variety of food selected. You have the option of staying 1 night or 2 nights, with all meals included and a welcome drink. Alcohol and other drinks are at your own discretion and were on the expensive side. We went with Oriental Sails and we were remarkably pleased with the services. We paid USD$70 for the entire package, with an air-conditioned room for 1 night and 6-course lunch and dinner. We would highly recommend this company.

Our Activities

Underground CaveDuring our stay on board, there were various activities on offer. On day one we visited the biggest underground cave that I have ever seen. It reminded me of a movie set like in the “National Treasure” or “The Mummy”. It was absolutely breathtaking.

We walked down a level of stairs and were lead into a small cave, which was nice but not so amazing. Instantly I thought that it was just another tourist trap with not much to see. Until we walked through a small tunnel-like corridor and around the corner the hidden world appeared. The cave was the side of half a football field. Throughout our walk, Sarah and I noticed the rock formations over time had taken on some strange forms. Some were highly amusing!

Back on the boat in the afternoon, we had some time where we could laze on the top deck of the boat or go for a swim. It wasn’t long before fellow travelers on the boat began to jump off into the refreshing salty water. As stood on the side of the boat and looked down to the murky green water, I imagined what lurked below. Pushing this out of my head, I leaped into the abyss. Once in I didn’t want to get out. The temperature of the water was an as refreshing change from the 40 degrees plus outside. It was a relieving change for my body.

There was also the option to go Kayaking in through a grotto to view some more magnificent limestone structures and also visit a floating fishing village. But, if you just wanted to spend some time on the boat you could do that too. That was the best thing about our cruise, we didn’t HAVE to do anything!

Our Experiences

Aside from all the activities, the experience as a whole was great. If we had the choice we wished there would be a limit on how many Junk boats were allowed in the bay. It would have been nice to get some privacy away from the other boats. As with most mass tourism in Asia, money speaks volumes instead of responsible tourism and conservation.

The beautiful caves and limestone cliff face erupting out of the water reminded me of Southern Thailand, yet with murkier green water. The best part of this trip was simply being on the upper deck slowly cruising through the bay and observing the scenery.