After a few days in crazy Hanoi, we were ready to escape the madness for some peace and quiet. Halong Bay was the perfect respite, a magnificent natural landscape/seascape of thousands of dramatic limestone crags jutting out of the sea.
Everyone had said it wasn’t to be missed and they were right. A UNESCO World Heritage site worthy of the designation and just a four hour drive from Hanoi. It’s nice (and unusual) when something lives up to or even exceeds your inflated expectations.
Trent did his research on the best cruise companies and off we sailed on our two-night cruise with Paloma Cruises, along with about 25 other tourists and dozens of other boats. We chose the two night cruise because we wanted a little bit longer break from the city.
Our little sitting room at the back of the boat.
Beautiful views everywhere you looked. The crags keep the rough seas so calm.
Whale Island, view from one of the caves we explored.
Cave exploration on day 1. I felt like I was having a Mikey/Chester Copperpot moment.
There were only a few other passengers on the 2-night cruise so on day 2 we had a private boat tour of the Bay while the other passengers were returned to shore and anew group picked up.
We kayaked to a private little beach, just the two of us and our guide Henry.
The food on the cruise was so simple, fresh and delicious. That’s pretty much what good Vietnamese food tastes like in my opinion. Below is a sampling of what we ate on our private tour on day 2. We also had fried rice and grilled chicken and french fries.
cucumber and tomato salad
grilled prawngrilled porkgrilled squid, a new favorite of mine
Cave exploration part IIour guide Henry on the ride to the cave This cave was 150 meters deep and would make an amazing movie set. Goonies II? It was called teachers cave because of the soldier who lived there with the fishermen hundreds of years ago and taught them to read and write after they helped the soldiers defend the Bay from Chinese invaders.
Sea shells collected on our private beach for my nieces back home.
One of my favorite meals on board, beef with mushrooms.
On our last morning we took a smaller boat out to a fishing village where a few hundred people still live in floating houses. There was even a small floating school from a time when the community was much larger, closer to 2,000.
There was also a floating jewelry store attached to the oyster farm.We watched them open a cultivated oyster and remove a beautiful pearl. Only 10 percent actually produce a perfect pearl or a pearl at all.
After the oyster farm, we went back aboard for a cooking class and Trent won for best spring roll!View of Ha Long City from the boat as we prepared to leave the cruise.
The cruise in Halong Bay has been an absolute highlight of our time in Vietnam. Even though the sun never came out, the peacefulness was pure bliss and the scenery was stunning. Some day we hope to go back and see it in sunlight!