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Published: October 10th 2018
In the beginning of a visit to Halong Bay there are plenty of "ooh", "aah", "look at that" and "so beautiful".
One archipelago and one place which isn't but still sort of looks like one
There are plenty of interesting places in northern Vietnam worth visiting. We are now going to write about two we went to on this trip, namely Halong Bay and Trang An sometimes known under the name Tam Coc. We start with Halong Bay. Halong Bay
We think the name of this place doesn't describe it very well. A better name would be "Halong Archipelago". If you look at a map there is a bay there, so the name it has now isn't wrong, but what you see when you are actually there is a lot of islands and that is an archipelago to us.
Halong Bay is a beauty spot and that to enjoy that is what people go there. The islands in the archipelago are all very steep, many of them are more high than they are wide, and at the top they are covered with vegetation. To be honest every island looks like that so when you have seen a few dozen of them you've seen them all. So in the beginning of the visit to Halong
Halong Bay is a beauty spot plain and simple.
Bay there were plenty of "ooh", "aah", "look at that" and "so beautiful". After an hour or so there were more "wonder if the bar is open?" and "I'm hungry. When's food?".
It was totally worth to take a cruise in Halong Bay. In the package we signed up for it was included two half days and one night on the ship and that was the perfect length. Enough to feel that we have really seen Halong Bay, not just caught a glimpse of it, but not so long that we got tired.
It was very obvious that the tours to Halong Bay all follow a given itinerary which barely differ at all between different tour operators. They have a preset concept nobody deviates from. We'll give you the outline of the tour (if you go there yourself you can tick these points off one by one).
• Pick up in Hanoi
• Bus half way to the coast
• Stop at a large souvenir store
• Continue to the city Ha Long
• Wait for a while for the previous passengers to disembark the cruise ship
• Hop on
We think the name of this place doesn't describe it very well. A better name would be "Halong Archipelago".
board the cruise ship
• Two half days cruising in Halong Bay with sightseeing including
=> Sunset view
=> Visit to a cave
=> Learn how to make edible decorations
• Returning to the city Ha Long
• Disembark the cruise ship to give room for new passengers
• Hop on board the bus back to Hanoi
• Another stop at the souvenir store
• Back in Hanoi
When we put it like this it might sound like we weren't happy with the tour but we can assure you that we loved it. We thought the tour was absolutely great. It was a bit expensive, that is true, but in the end it was worth every dollar we spent. Yes, you pay these tours in US dollars.
The only possible drawback we can think of is that we felt like we were products on a highly efficient assembly line. But that also means that we got first class service and a splendid and well organised tour. If 200 companies run exactly the same tour every day all year around. Of
No wonder this place is popular
course they will have honed it to perfection. Trang An/Tam Coc
Trang An is another place known for its natural beauty. It is sometimes described as "Halong Bay in rice paddies". That nickname isn't spot on but it isn't without justification either. You can find freestanding rock formations similar to the islands in Halong Bay. But in Trang An they are mostly surrounded by rice fields instead of water.
However, to us the rocks in the fields was not the most interesting thing we saw when we visited Trang An. What we remember most was a boat ride. We'll get back to that later on.
We made it easy for ourselves and took a tour to Trang An. I guess we could've made it there by ourselves but we felt it wasn't worth the additional trouble.
The first stop on the tour was a temple. It was pretty good and it was worth stopping there.
After the temple we and the others in the tour group went by bicycles around the village. That part of the tour felt like a desperate move to fill the time. Especially since
Emma in Halong Bay
In the sunset the islands look wonderful. Emma doesn't need help from a sunset to look wonderful. She does that all by herself all the time
the bicycles were in poor repair and the bicycle tour was badly organized from beginning to end.
However, the tour operators probably weren't worried that we were a bit disappointed after the boring and poorly organized bicycle ride because they had left the main attraction for last. Something so good that we were willing to forget everything: a boat ride on Tam Coc.
Tam Coc means "three caves" and now you know why the boat ride was so spectacular. If you didn't get it, you go with the boat through three flooded caves. But that is not all. The lake in itself is also spectacular. To make this even more special the men and women who row the boats actually much of the time row with their feet. That was quite interesting to watch. You can what it looked like here:
We hoped you enjoyed reading this. We thought these places were worth a separate blog entry and we you do too. We did so because both places are spectacular and they are very popular to visit. Before we are finished with we intend to publish one more blog entry. It'll be about Hué
Steep and covered with vegetation
The islands in the archipelago are all very steep, many of them are more high than they are wide and at the top they are covered with vegetation.
and the royal palace there.
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