We booked a tour of Halong Bay to spend a few days on a boat floating around the beautiful karst scenery of the Halong Bay area in north Vietnam. It was Jason’s birthday so we spent a little extra money to get on a slightly fancier boat than our budget would normally allow. We also signed up for extra kayaking, in order to enjoy more of our time out in the water.
Halong Bay is a regular stop on the Vietnam tourist circuit, but it is a great place to visit and see the scenery. It is similar to the karst landscape in Yangshou (China), but in the ocean. There are many caves with limestone stalagmites and stalagmites, and we kayaked through limestone passages worn into the rocks that led to secluded lagoons within the limestone. The kayaking was fun and the scenery was great. The water is not that clean, thanks to the invention of plastic and the many tour boats languishing (and discharging fluids) in the bays.
We had a good meal of barbecued seafood out on the small kayak boat and spent some time lounging on the upper decks of the big “sailing junk.” The tour boats have sails, but they are really just for show. But they are pretty to see out on the water with the peaks in the background. We enjoyed our short time of luxury, then boarded an overnight bus for the town of Hue.
The overnight buses in both China and Vietnam have been distinctly different from those in south America. The insides look more like what you imagine the space and bunks for sleeping look like in a submarine (i.e. not much room).
***click to enlarge photos***