The surreal landscape in Halong Bay

  Marica&Sonia   |     07/03/2018

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Once in Hanoi, we begin to collect information about the different ways to visit the world famous Halong Bay.
A Vietnamese legend tells that the locals were fighting a war against the invaders from neighbouring China, and the gods sent a dragon to help the local population. When the dragon plunged into the sea, he dug several holes in the mountains, which were filled with water, leaving only some of the highest points visible. In fact, Halong means "where the dragon descends into the sea".
Halong Bay is definitely the best known and most photographed destination in Northern Vietnam. It is a bay dotted with more than 3000 islets. There are numerous companies that offer different types of tours such as those of one day, 2 days and one night or 3 days and 2 nights. We choose to do one of two days and one night with the company Gray Line Cruise. We pay € 100 per person; the food is included and also the transfer from Halong Bay to Tam Coc - our next destination.
We leave from the hotel Golden Sun Suites, where we are staying in Hanoi, at 8 am. We arrive at Halong Bay at 11.30 and start our cruise. We are given rooms and immediately after a welcome drink.
Lunch at 1.30 pm as we cross various islets of Halong. We observe a fantastic landscape with different islands of various shapes.
At 3 pm we arrive at the caves Luon through a small boat and begin to explore by kayaking for an hour or so. Very nice and relaxing place, with very few people in the afternoon.
At 4 pm we visit the island of Titop. Here you can choose to sunbathe, swim or reach the summit of the highest island of Halong. We decide to do the   (also because there is not much sun). It is not a difficult path: there are about 400 steps and it takes us  about15 minutes. Once you reach the top, you can enjoy a beautiful view from here. The landscape will surely leave you speechless.
At 5.30 pm we return to the ship where we expect a snack of fresh fruit.
At 6.30 pm there is a cooking demonstration: we are shown how to prepare fresh rice spring rolls. After that, we put on gloves and everyone prepares his own. In short, it was very becoming to prepare them and then eat them.
At 7.30 pm we are served dinner. The evening menu exceeded all our expectations: fresh fish at the barbecue. All very delicious!
At 9 pm there are various activities to do like going fishing, watching a movie, playing table games and we decide to play Jenga (board game) with a very nice Canadian couple.
The next day we wake up at 6 am to try a lesson of Tai Chi Quan, that is a Chinese martial art born as a fighting technique, now known in the West especially as gymnastics and as a technique of preventive medicine.
After this interesting experience, we have breakfast and then we go to visit the Sung Sot caves, discovered by a French geologist in 1901 and become tourist since 1936. They are the largest and most interesting caves from the geological point of view in Halong Bay.
At 9.15 am we return to the ship, we check-out and we have a mid-morning snack.
We arrive at the port around 11.30 am and we wait here an hour for the bus to reach Tam Coc (SEE ARTICLE).
In conclusion, it has been a great experience. Although the weather was not the best, the surreal panorama we witnessed was just breath-taking. It is certainly worth it despite the rather high cost of the excursion.

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