A Travellerspoint blog

Ha Long Bay

Dirty, hectic, rubbish - clean, relaxing, stunning... 2 very different days!

We had to choose between Sapa and Halong Bay as our final destination in Vietnam because of our China visa. We went to Halong Bay for two nights on a junk boat. You read endless reviews about Halong Bay being cheap, dirty and touristy and yes, in parts, it is. Our first day on the boat was disappointing. We were herded from one thing to another, reaching a very dirty beach that was packed with tourists. The day wasn't helped by me not feeling very well either. Fortunately we had a really good second day, opting to spend the day on a smaller boat that found some quiet spots for us to enjoy a swim, sunbathe or kayak at our leisure. We were surrounded by stunning limestone mountain scenery that Halong Bay is most famous for and got to appreciate why its considered a highlight of Vietnam. Jason said it was one of his favourite days so far; he was jumping off the boat into the sea, kayaking around to see the wildlife (which included eagles and langurs) and of course topping up his tan. I still wasn't feeling well but enjoyed scenic snoozing. We had a nice small group of people on our boat and enjoyed spending the evening with three Parisians; two of them in theatre production and the other an orchestral conductor. They were fascinating.

An Australian couple we met were left disappointed after their trip to Halong Bay because they chose to have an overnight stay on Cat Ba Island rather than the boat stay we did. I think it involved more busy tourist attractions and a timekeeping guide to race you through your day. There's definitely positive and negative experiences to be had at Halong Bay. You have got to be careful what you book.

We've loved Vietnam and will definitely be back, but for now it's another new county...China!

Posted by bloorsontour 08:55 Archived in Vietnam

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