Instead of throwing out your bits of junk, it is time to board one! These little boats will take you on a breathtaking ride into the Halong Bay region and let you sleep under the stars surrounded by the sea and ‘floating’ mountains.
After much skepticism of how to do a trip in the Halong Bay area without actually joining a tour, we decided to just do a tour and hope for the best. I say this as we had been warned by many people that the tours into this area are not value for money and that the food and service are poor. So we booked a tour at our hotel and to our great surprise, we had the best time! The food, people, and service for that matter, and even if we hadn’t, the scenery makes you forget about everything else. We got a bus from Hanoi to Halong City and from there went to the harbour and boarded our junk called Sunrise.
About 12 of us were on the junk and we set off into the sea and had our first meal. Our first stop was to actually go and explore the inside of one of these ‘floating’ mountains. The caves are very lit up and although it was a little cheesy, it was enchanting at the same time!
We got back on the junk after about an hour and set out to see the floating village, you feel straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean in this setting especially as it was a bit misty and there was a minor rainstorm to hide approaching junks until they were nearby.
The legend is that the islands were created by a great dragon, as it raced towards the coast its tail gouged out all the spaces between the islands and when it crashed, it dug up so much earth that the sea filled it. It really feels like a mythical spot. The area is much larger than I imagined it would be, and is truly breathtaking.
We went kayaking, and on a motor boat into some of the water caves. We also got to swim and jump off the top of the junk when we came to a stop for the day in a deeper area. Once again, the water was warm but not clear and sadly there were some litter floating around. I think this has happened due to the large amount of tourists that pass through the area every day.
We had a wonderful dinner and then we played cards and games on the boat until we were all tired and we went to our cabins and slept. We tried to make it up for sunrise but failed, and instead, only woke up for breakfast at 8 but it was still so beautiful in the morning. We made our way back to the harbour, dropping some people off at Cat Ba Island for a longer trip and said goodbye to the magical Halong Bay.
This was something truly unique for me as I had never seen anything like it. This is a must-see in Vietnam, it is one of the many beautiful parts of the country and by far, the most magical!