HaLong Bay, considered one of the best natural wonders of the world and a Unesco World Heritage site is a popular travel destination in the north of vietnam. The bay is well know for its 2,000 limestone islets which have evolved for around 20 million years to look the way they do today.
The easiest way to travel to Ha Long Bay is to arrange a tour from Hanoi. Make sure you shop around as there are many expensive tours that are much more affordable to book once you arrive in Vietnam. There are many alternatives for you to explore Ha Long Bay. The Famous Junk cruises sail ha long bay on a daily basis. A multitude of company offer their cruises, from affordable one day tours to luxurious 5 star 4 night tours there are plenty of options for everyone to choose. We were happy to find a very beautiful junk cruise for a reasonable price. Even though we had the chance to stay one night on the ship, we wished we had chosen to spent two nights as we loved the tranquility and beauty of the bay.
Today you can find a community of around 1,600 people living in Ha Long Bay, in various fishing villages. As you sail through the bay some of them will come in small boats offering souvenirs as well as drinks for sale as they know that most ships charge you extra for alcohol.
Most cruises will take you to one of the famous caves in Ha Long Bay. We got to visit the amazing Sung Sot Cave or Surprise cave. You arrive at the cave by descending about a hundred stone steps. The caves are lit by multi color lights which gives them a very unique look.
Many historians show presence of prehistorical humans in this area for tens of thousands years ago.
The name of Ha Long means descending dragon. Local legend has it that when vietnam started to develop as an independent country it had many invaders, to help the vietnamese in defending their new country the gods sent dragons as protectors. The dragons spit jewels that ultimately turn into islands that converted into a wall to help them protect from invaders.
Another popular stop of many cruises is the pearl farm of ha long bay. On this stop you learn how the locals harvest the pearls beginning with the growing of oysters in the water to create the perfect pearl.
Depending on the cruise that you choose they will have various activities. Our ship had Tai Chi in the morning before the buffet breakfast and we enjoyed a traditional vietnamese cooking class at night where we tried our hand at creating different figures with tomatoes.