Sunday, 1 June 2008 - We left Hanoi at 8am and arrived at Hạ Long bay at 11:30am in the rain. This is my 7th visit to Hạ Long bay, however my most recent trip was made 5 years ago. After I was back in Hanoi from Guilin last month, I decided to make a trip to Hạ Long bay for taking photos. Often I traveled to Hạ Long bay or Cát Bà island for at least 2-3 days, but this time I decided to book a one day trip with a travel agent in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. After a 5 hour boat ride on the bay, we were back in Hanoi by bus at 8:30pm.
Hạ Long bay (i.e. Bay of Descending Dragons) is located in Quảng Ninh province in north east Vietnam. The distance to Hạ Long bay from Hanoi is 175km and it takes 3 hours to travel by bus. The bay is made of 1,969 islands of various sizes and shapes, 989 of which have been given names. There are two kinds of islands, limestone and schist, which are concentrated in two main zones: the south east of Bái Tử Long bay and the south west
of Hạ Long bay. The bay is also famous for its spectacular scenery of grottoes and caves. It was recognized by UNESCO as a world natural heritage site in December 1994. Nowadays, the local authority has encouraged tourists and locals to vote for Hạ Long bay to be one of the 7 natural wonders of the world.
There were approx 25 people on the same boat with me. When we started cruising on the bay, it rained, but at the end of the day, we could see some sun light. A simple lunch was served on the boat, so that we could save our time. We visited a floating fishing village, cruised again on the bay, climbed up to a cave, then some tourists did kayaking for 30 minutes.
On 1 May, when I was in Guilin, China, I didn’t think that on the same day a month later, I would be back in Hạ Long bay. Both places are famous for their beautiful landscapes. You cruise on the Li river in Guilin and enjoy a great view of the Elephant Trunk Hill and other mountains by the river, but Hạ Long bay has a larger scale with
thousands islands. On both trips, I experienced rain, but the weather was not a big issue for me. The red Áo Dài (Vietnamese traditional dress) that I wore matched very well with the color of the sea water and limestone karst islands, plus the other boats on the bay. All in all, the scenery was still great without sun.
Sitting on the boat, watching the islands and boats passing by me, enjoying fresh air of the sea and sparkling waves in the sun light... I love those sights. Four years later...
Wednesday, 14 November 2012 - I was back to Hạ Long bay on the 7th visit. On this trip I was traveling from Bãi Cháy port to Cát Bà island and I passed by the bay on the way. Things have changed since my last visit 4 years ago. The wooden boats with dragon heads have been replaced with big and modern white boats. The landscape is still beautiful as always. A sightseeing ticket for the bay costs US$4 (VND 80,000), while a boat ticket to Cát Bà island costs US$10 (VND 200,000). I traveled by local bus and just bought tickets at Bãi Cháy port
upon my arrival.
The boat left Bãi Cháy port at 2pm and stopped at Thiên Cung cave. There were so many tourists inside the cave. When I arrived at Cát Bà island, it was about 6pm and I had to travel 30km by tourist bus to the town (US$6 for the bus ride).
Blog about my trip to Quan Lạn island and Bái Tử Long bay in April 2012: Quan Lạn island
Blog about my trip to Cô Tô & other islands, Hạ Long bay and Bái Tử Long bay in November 2012: Cô Tô and other islands
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