Halong Bay is one of the most famous sights in Vietnam. It is home to the amazing Sung Sot (Surprise) Cave but the most impressive views are of the pointed, rainforest-covered, limestone islands that litter the bay. Arguably, Halong Bay has the best views in Vietnam.
My group boarded a junk boat for the day and night which was pretty roomy, 8 room, 3 story vessel. My room was closest to the engine room which made for a rude awakening at 1am when we had to turn on the engine and change positions. Also it was the hardest bed I have ever slept on to the point where everyone giggled over their amazing Vietnamese coffee while comparing sleep stories.
Sung Sot Cave was our first stop after lunch on the boat. Early in the morning and later in the afternoon are less crowded visiting times-if there is such a thing in Halong Bay.
The cave system was huge! The lighting inside was pretty horrible in that it wasn’t very natural and they tried to do strange things. Our local tour guide tried to tell us this was a “finger” pointing to a hole in the cave ceiling. Yep, that is not a finger! And why, oh why would you light it up red like that. My fellow gutter-minded travelers made jokes about the “finger” for the rest of the tour.
Views of Halong Bay from the cave opening:
A few of us decided that kayaking the bay would be fun and it was the best decision. I teamed up with Keith as his wife was staying back to relax. We kayaked around and made some many monkey friends.
Most people who were exploring this smaller section were in giant boats of 20 singing songs in Korean and Mandarin. Being in a kayak we could easily paddle away from them and basically be on our own.
Kayaking cost $11 and was the best thing we did all day!
Another favorite memory of Halong Bay is when a random lady rowed her rowboat up to our junk boat after sunset and had snacks, wine, and beer for sale. I ended up buying an $8 bottle of wine (which is expensive for Vietnam but she rowed out to the boat!) and sharing it with my fellow tour mates while we waited for our seafood dinner.
(photo by Keith)
Sunset was best seen from the sundeck on top of the junk boat. It was beautiful up there and the breeze felt nice in the hot, humid weather.
Halong Bay is definitely a crowded touristy destination but is one not to miss. There is a reason why travelers flock here and you should too for at least one kayak ride and sunset.
Reader Question: Are you a kayaker? Would you buy a bottle of wine from a random lady on a rowboat?