Monday, September 14, 2015

2013 Hanoi Trip - Halong Bay Part 3 - Halong Bay (Vịnh Hạ Long)

Location: Hanoi, Vietnam

Full experience of my visit to Hanoi can be accessed through the list below:

More about Hanoi can be read through the list below:

Halong Bay is one of the most recognized name in the South East Asia, sharing its fame with the likes of Angkor Wat and Borobudur. Thousands of limestone karst islands of different size and geometry dotted the bay in the north east of Vietnam, attracting uncountable visitors near and far to cruise the waters every year, including us.

Most ships cast off at different times, depending on the speed of their passengers boarding. As the ship chugged away and cruised the waters, we just relaxed and enjoyed the moment while the captains enjoyed a slight competition in speed between different ships. Some enterprising businesses would power their boats close to each cruise and jumped aboard like a pirate, surprising unsuspecting passengers and peddling not death but fruits.

Land, sky and sea

Ready to cast off



Leaving the pier


The bay was undoubtedly beautiful, some of the islands were covered in verdant foliage, others barely an outcrop barely supporting life. Most of them were only partially covered, exposing the ungrowable limestone. Erosion of the limestone by natural elements created caves, once used as hiding places and bases by smugglers and pirates.

It was this beauty that led it to be named Hạ Long (下龍), literally meaning Descending Dragon in Sino-Vietnamese. Interestingly the bay went by other names before the 19th century, but it was this name which stuck with it, helped by legends of dragons descending to protect the Vietnamese people.

Our guide pointed out to a pair of unusual rock outcroppings, mentioning them as one of the highlights of the cruise - the Kissing Rocks. Featured as the ticket image, the pair of rocks were actually unspectacular save for an illusion of a pair of rocks seemingly split down the middle. To the seafarers they may have been an important landmark, and to geologists, a good example to show the power of natural erosion.



Temporary stop


Red and blue

Proof of visit

Photographing the photographer

Minh Hai

Event horizon


Kissing rocks

Nearing the end

Going, going...



Dragon's head


The fine weather did us a great service, granting us clear blue skies and a slow breeze. It was forecasted that a great storm was passing by and could hit us the day we planned for the cruise but I guessed we were really lucky. It was only on the other day did we know that we missed the storm by just a day - visitors to Halong Bay on the day after our visit were moored on land without a chance of cruising the bay due to the fierce weather.

Environment:         A UNESCO Natural Heritage Site with beautiful karst formation
Suitable for:            Landscape lovers, UNESCO hunters
Visit worthiness:   8/10 (I have to cheat here by marking up the worthiness value, because it is truly beautiful!)
Historical value:        4.0/5.0 
Architectural value:  0.0/5.0
Photographic value: 4.0/5.0
Landmark value:       5.0/5.0
My cheating value:   +1.5

Entrance Fee:                  usually included within the tour
Opening Hours:             anytime
Best Moment to Visit: Anytime, but most probably your time is decided by the tour
Length of Visit:              >8 hours (can last overnight)

Website:                   -

Contact:                    -
E-mail:                      -
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