I’d been really looking forward to this trip Hanoi, its still a pretty new destination with Emirates and the majority of crew hadn’t been before so I was sure people would be up for some exploring! Checking the weather before the flight I could see it was forecast for constant thunderstorms whilst we were there, hoping that this would change during our flight over we departed Dubai at 3:30am and it was a quick 6 hours and 35 minutes over to Noi Bai International Airport.
Checking into our lovely hotel we had opted to head to Ha Long Bay the next day. With it being 170km away from the city of Hanoi it was an early start of 4:30am and cost $60 for the works seeing as though there were eight of us. We arranged to meet for dinner that evening but I was pretty tired from an early departure out of Dubai and decided to make the most of catching up on my sleep and ordered some room service with an early night.
Driving over took just over 4 hours and we managed to see the most beautiful sunrises over Vietnam. Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the bay consists of a dense cluster of some 1,600 limestone monolithic islands each topped with thick jungle vegetation, rising spectacularly from the ocean. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves. Hang Đầu Gỗ is the largest grotto in the Hạ Long area. French tourists visited in the late 19th century, and named the cave Grotte des Merveilles. Its three large chambers contain large numerous stalactites and stalagmites as well as 19th century French graffiti. There are two bigger islands, Tuần Châu and Cát Bà, that have permanent inhabitants, as well as tourist facilities including hotels and beaches. There are also a number of beautiful beaches on the smaller islands.
Four hours later we pulled into the boat terminal and our tour guide took us through to the waters edge as we waited for our boat to pull in.
We all piled onto the boat and the captains family were also joining us and were going to be cooking us lunch on the boat too. Setting sail you could immediately see the incredible lime stone undulating islands that encompassed the horizon, I can truly say I’ve never seen anywhere as magnificent like it in my life. A little similar to Phi Phi Islands in Thailand but they are nowhere near on the same scale as the incredible Ha Long Bay.
I always appreciate the greenery so much especially living in Dubai but this was next level. The surroundings were so idyllic and I just couldn’t stop admiring the view, I could have easily sailed round here all day.
We were making our way over to a sort of floating pontoon in what could be described as the middle of nowhere. Upon this pontoon was a little shop and restaurant (how bizarre) but we were coming to jump onto some little bamboo wooden boats and get up more close and personal with the bay.
We jumped onto the boats which were driven (is that the correct phrase?) by local Vietnamese women who just loved to sing as they paddled us around! We were taken towards some of the smaller caves and enclaves around the islands.
Clambering onto the boats in two separate groups we travelled around the tranquil waters, but it wasn’t long before my weather curse caught up with me and the heavens opened and down came the rain. Thankfully the lady, whose name was Dinh Thi Lien, had a huge umbrella which managed to cover all four of us on the boat!
However, it was really saddening to see after we went around the waters the amount of litter floating in the water. All the little wooden boats we were on, the locals had little nets in which they swept up the rubbish, it’s bad to see the negative effects of tourism of this UNESCO World Heritage site. Whats wrong with people that they just can’t hold onto their trash for a little while longer to preserve a naturally beautiful corner of our planet?
After a ride around the waters, we made our way back to the main boat to head to Paradise Cave, not before stopping for a quick coconut!
The sail over to the cave took around 15 minutes and the rain had finally stopped when we arrived and we pulled up into the small dock and went into the cave on foot.
Walking through the caves I felt like I was back on a Geography Field Trip as the tour guide talked us through the legend of the caves and the physical composition of the stalagmites and stalactites.
After this and a little souvenir shopping on the island, we made our way back onto the boat to eat lunch and make our way back to the boat terminal.
The food we had was lovely and super fresh, they continued to bring out traditional Vietnamese dishes such as rice rolls and plenty of seafood dishes such as salt and pepper squid! We literally ate until we could eat no more.
After an amazing trip out to Ha Long Bay we got back in the bus to go the hotel, ready to sleep before our wake up call and night flight back to Dubai. I strongly recommend heading here if you get the chance. The views and scenery are absolutely phenomenal and its a great day out, I just wish we’d of had more time to do a full day tour or even had the chance to stay in Ha Long Bay. Everyone should seriously add this to their bucket list!
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