Clean blue waters and thousands of tall limestone karsts covered with rainforests for miles ahead and that was the image of Halong Bay stuck in our head for a very long time when we had come across a picture on social media. So, last year when we decided to visit Vietnam with our mom for an all-girls trip, Halong Bay topped our must-visit places in the country.
Halong Bay is located in the North-Eastern part of Vietnam close to the China Border. The Bay covers an area of 1500sqkm and has about 1800 tiny limestone islands and islets. The limestone towers and the islets have gone through millions of years of formation and today it is home to several grottoes, tropical forests and a wide variety of flora and fauna.
We spent 3 days cruising along Halong Bay and it was everything and much more than we expected. We ladies had an amazing time cruising through the gorgeous locations and it was definitely one of the best parts of our trip. So here are sharing top 10 reasons why we loved our trip and why you must plan a trip to Halong Bay soon:
1. The ancient legend of Halong Bay
Firstly, Vietnam is a land of ancient lore and legend, so if you are interested in the mythical tales, Halong Bay is a perfect place to visit. According to ancient legend, when Vietnam was newly formed a long time ago, the country was facing the attack of invaders from the north through the seas. So, the Mother Dragon and her children were sent from heaven to protect the Vietnamese people. The dragons destroyed the enemies by spitting fire and emeralds, which on hitting the land turned into islands that acted as the defensive walls to the country, thus sending the enemies away.
The Mother Dragon and the Children did not return back to heaven but settled down in the land instead with the locals. Hence the Bay was named Halong whereby “Ha” means descending and “Long” means Dragon.
2. Breath-taking scenery and unique landscape
The limestone towers are what forms an eye-catching attraction as they stand majestically above the emerald blue waters, luring the tourists every year. The spectacular scenery of the Bay is out of the world and every visitor is left awestruck with its untouched beauty. Cruising along the towers was unlike any experience we have had before and pictures certainly do not do any justice to this gorgeousness.
3. UNESCO World Heritage Site
Halong Bay was listed as the UNESCO World Heritage site in the year 1994 for its unique landscape. The limestone karsts underwent changes in the warm and wet tropical climate for millions of years, the result of which we see today are the mystic caves, the towering rainforest islets, and underground lakes. Halong Bay is also listed as one of the “New 7 Natural Wonders of the World”.
4. Unforgettable Cruise experience
One of the best ways to explore and enjoy Halong Bay is by cruising along the emerald green waters. One can opt for budget cruise liner or a uber luxurious cruise experience, either way, you are surely going to love the whole experience. The cruises organize tours to specific caves and also some fun activities, which is again an added bonus to the trip. We booked our cruise with Alisa Cruises, which one of the luxury cruises in the area and from our experience the best one. (Review coming soon)
5. Break from the routine
As the saying goes, there can be no better way to relax and rejuvenate than a good dose of sea and nature. Cruising through the spectacular creation of nature, it wouldn’t be a difficult task to lose oneself completely. Stove away your laptops, phones (well, get it out to capture all the gorgeousness around you), put all your real-world worries and stress away and bask in the relaxing atmosphere of Halong Bay. Trip to Halong Bay gives a perfect opportunity to take a break from your routine life, far away from the hubbub of the city, just to enjoy a blissful moment of joy.
6. Explore the mystic caves
The cruises organize different activities during your stay based on the duration of your trip. One among them is visiting the caves that are located within the limestone karsts. Just like the towering karsts, the caves are larger than life and the guide has interesting tales to share with their troop.
We visited the Sung Sot Cave or “Surprise Cave”, which is the largest caves in Halong Bay with a total area of approximately 10000 m2. As this is one of the famous caves in the bay, it gets a bit too crowded, nonetheless, it is a delight to explore this magnificent cave. If you have a creative imagination, you will be able to notice sculptures of animals, birds and trees in the stone stalactites and stalagmites. Apart from Sung Sot Cave, there 29 other caves in the bay that are accessible to the public and each one is a nature’s treasure trove.
P.S: Do remember to notice the stalagmites sparkle like there tiny diamonds encrusted on it, gorgeous we say!!
7. Visit the Pearl Farm and floating villages
Now, this is for all the ladies, who love jewellery, especially the elegant pearls. Take a tour of Halong Bay’s only Pearl Farm, which is run by Halong Pearl Join Stock Company. Walk through step by step guide on the art of pearl cultivation and harvesting, which is done using a mix of traditional and modern methods. The tour also gives a basic knowledge of different types of pearls, the duration it takes to cultivate them, how they are evaluated and their distinct characteristics. End the tour of the Pearl Farm with a little shopping in their souvenir store, taking back some memorabilia of the trip.
Visit the famous floating villages that are located in Bai Tu Long Bay and get a sneak peek into the lives of the locals living in the bay. Nestled between the towering limestone structures, these villages are isolated from the world. Many families have been living here for generations, with their primary occupation being fishing and through tourists. Many cruise operators organize tours to these villages and it is an experience one cannot miss.
8. Kayaking in the emerald green waters
If you are a water baby, then you definitely going to love this activity. Kayak through the emerald green sea, enjoying the picturesque view of the cliffs. The calmness surrounding the mountains and the clear waters, with the soft sounds of water as you paddle, brings a sense of inner harmony. The cruises organize kayaking for its guests on request and we would totally suggest you go for it. Another great activity would be hiking up to Titop Island to enjoy the panoramic view of the Bay or soak up some sun on the island beach. Although Titop Island being a favorite among all cruise liners, hence it gets very crowded during the day.
9. Vietnamese food
A journey through one of the most beautiful places on earth and not get a taste of all the local delicacies is impossible. Although seafood is the highlight in the area, Alisa cruise catered to our vegetarian diet requirement and served a wide variety of local and international cuisine. The Vietnamese Spring Rolls, braised tofu and the piping hot Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) are some of the must-haves while in the area. Also, while you are at it, do not forget to attack the delicious exotic fruits.
10. Sunrise and Tai Chi session
Kickstart your day healthy dose of Vitamin D as you watch the sun rising across the horizon. Combine this with a session of Tai Chi, a form of Chinese martial art which involves slow movements, deep breathing and focus. Tai Chi is an exercise that is linked to longevity and also is a great way to reduce stress. Since cruising along the Halong Bay is all about relaxation and getting away from the hectic life, we would say practicing Tai Chi will be one of the best ways to achieve it.