I’d seen photos of Ha Long Bay online. They looked magnificent. But I was truly stunned when we arrived at Ha Long Bay. These gigantic rock formations protruding from the sea seem to never end. I felt like I was in a land of dinosaurs. Here’s what we did:
Land vs Boat
Although the rocks are relatively visible from the mainland, the perfect way to see them is to book a junk boat. Don’t worry, they’re not junk, far from it. We booked the Indochina Junk, a large boat, almost the size of a cruise ship, with capacity for up to 50 guests. With a sundeck and a pool on board, state of the art rooms, amazing dining, and tremendously friendly staff, this boat was beautiful and luxurious.
We booked a 2 day/ 1 night stay. We traveled 2 hours into the bay, kayaked, had dinner literally surrounded by huge rocks, and even fished for squid. The next day we visited a very secluded cave, had lunch on the boat, and sailed back to Ha Long City. The company gave us a lift back to Hanoi, and on the way back we were able to see a water puppet show, a traditional Vietnamese cultural show.
If you’re staying in Hanoi, book Indochina Junk, and they’ll pick you up from your hotel and drive you to the bay. The total trip time is about 4 hours. Other options are to fly to Haiphong and take a taxi to Ha Long City. We were coming from Hoi An so decided to fly into Haiphong and drive to the city. But be warned, there is absolutely nothing in Ha Long City. It was one of the most deserted places we’ve been to, especially the hotel strip. In retrospect, it was fascinating how strange it was.