Hanoi is the CAPITAL of Vietnam and the country's 2nd largest city after Ho Chi Minh. When in Hanoi there is no missing out on the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the majestic Halong Bay. The clear emerald waters glittering under the sunlight was a spectacular sight to behold amongst the limestones.
How To Book?
We booked the Halong Bay Overnight cruise tour from online operators such via email prior to the trip at $300SGD per pax. Simply google 'Halong Bay Cruise'.
We were picked up from our hotel and drove straight to Tuan Chau Marina where by many others were also waiting for transfer onto their cruise ships sailing on Halong Bay.
Although there are many variants of cruise packages by different operators, here are the 3 main sites you will be visiting if you were to take on the generic cruise pacakge for a 2 day 1-night sail.
1. Soi Sim Island /TITOP Island
This island is the key to getting that million-dollar picture you have seen glossing over magazines – the bird’s-eye view of Halong Bay. Once you are on the island, ascend up to the peak. The climb up is fairly moderate and steps are well paved and not extremely steep. The local seniors were spotted along the way too, looking all fit and robust from their 'daily’ workout, up and down the mountain. A beautiful, clean sandy beach also lines the island’s coastline, free for all to swim or laze upon.
2. Dark and Light Grotto in Lan Ha Bay
We were in a stream amongst the valleys and mountains and the water was calm. At the grotto, you either Kayak or take a boat ride. Tiny people in big place. I suggest you reach as early as possible before sunset, as the sun sets pretty fast, if you want to leisurely spend time taking photos and rest in between kayaking. The distance spans some 5km ( possibly) to and fro and you would not want to be still paddling when the sky turned black, which we did encounter.
3. Sung Sot Cave
It is one of the most beautifully acclaimed caves in Halong Bay which saw us hiking up some 600 steps, enchanted by the limestone formations. With thousands of stalagmites and stalactites formations illuminated by spotlights along the way.
We soon "lost" our guide amongst the sea of people which was a pity. For “premium” groups, each member was spotted with receivers and earphones so that they were able to catch on as the guide explains the facts and history. Nevertheless, be in the moment and appreciate the works of nature in Sung Sot cave − divided into man-made internal illuminations and natural sunlight illumination from the cave opening on the other end as you exit.