Halong Bay is probably one of the most beautiful natural sceneries in Vietnam and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. In the middle of a bay with usually calm sea, there are literally thousands of limestone rocks emerging vertically from the water. Ilinca and I explored Halong bay with a one night cruise along a ship named Dragon Legend and the place is truly magical.
Cloudy Weather at Halong Bay
Of course the whole beauty can only be seen if the weather is decent enough. During our transport from Hanoi to the harbor, there was fog and rain, which was not very promising. But as the day heated up a bit, the clouds were rising and in the afternoon partially dissolving. During sunset and sunrise, the sky was gray again, but we still got some nice moments out there. And while not being very photogenic, it was a mystical atmosphere when the tops of the limestone rocks fade into the clouds. Of course Ilinca and I would have wished for clear skies, but it was still worth visiting Halong Bay.
Activities at Halong Bay
Apart from eating excessively on board the Dragon Legend, one of our activities at Halong Bay was visiting a not so impressive cave inside one of the limestone rocks where hundreds if not thousands of people walk through every day. Also, on the first evening, we went around one or two limestone rocks by kayak. As the sun decided to show up during the kayaking, it was a very scenic 40 minutes on the water. After kayaking, I took a cold bath in the chilly bay where the water was definitely less than 20°C cold. The warm pool on the deck of the Dragon Legend helped warming up afterwards though.
Aboard the Dragon Legend
Finding a decent cruise in Halong Bay is not so easy, as people advise you to rather pay a bit more and have a nice experience than saving on the vessel, as some of the cruises go further into the bay, and some other cruises stay close to the port where hundreds of other boats float around and ruin the atmosphere.
The Dragon Legend was at the upper end of the price range with the promise, to go where no other boats goes. While this turned out just to be another Marketing lie as we anchored during the night with around a dozen other boats, the ship itself was exaggeratedly luxurious with cabins that are larger than most of the hotel rooms we stayed at during our whole trip, including a 9 m2 bath, air conditioning, and a comfortable bed. Not less impressive were the culinary skills of the kitchen team. All our meals were very tasty and made us forget that we are actually spending a night on a ship.
Getting Ready for Jungle and Caving Adventure
After the Halong Bay cruise, Ilinca and I went back to Hanoi, where I went shopping for the necessary items for my upcoming 4 day jungle and caving adventure in Central Vietnam, and Ilinca prepared her onward travels to Hoi An to see the famous lantern festival.