Halong Bay is UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site so while in Vietnam, I think it’s important to visit this world wonder. And I also wanted to see how different it is with the Philippines very own, Coron which we visited back in 2004.
Halong Bay is some 3.5-4 hour ride from Hanoi’s French Quarter. We initially wanted to book through With Locals but with the holidays, it was simply impossible to do so. What we did was book the tour through the ever reliable The Sinh Tourist online. Quick and painless, we only had to show up 30 minutes before the departure time at 8am.
If you’re going to book with The Sinh Tourist, better make sure you get to the right one. We found out that there were several Sinh Tourist or Sinh Cafes around, even using the same logo. LOL.
Unlike in Ho Chi Minh City, The Sinh Tourist in Hanoi was just a booking office and we were then handed off to Vietnam Open Tour. Thien a.k.a. Tony was our tour guide.
With 2 small kids and 2 teens, we were expecting a trying bus ride. 😛 Gad. 8 hours in total. At the boat, some people were looking at us funny while we prepare sandwiches for our bus ride home. I know it’s an Asian thing. We’re scared to get hungry. 😛
So anyway, midway we dropped by a rest stop at a shop selling furniture and souvenirs.
I wonder if people do buy from here.
We arrived at Halong Bay marina at 12nn. And since we were visiting towards the tail end of the holidays, we still expected lots of people. According to our tour guide, it’s the low season.
Kids under 4 can visit free!
So excited to see the limestone formation! From afar, it looked like just one continuous mountain range.
Since we just opted for a 4-hour tour, we didn’t get to ride in a real junk ship.
The boat was surprisingly comfortable, cool, and relaxing. I was afraid I’d get dizzy.
As soon as we left the marina, they served us our lunch. We paid around 600kVND per person so we weren’t expecting much on the food but lo and behold we had 9 different kinds of viand (yum!), unlimited rice, and fruit dessert. We could hardly finish our food!
Plus we got distracted once we were near the limestone formations.
(to be continued)