After enjoying breakfast it was time to depart Hanoi – destination Halong Bay. We boarded our motorcoach with our guide Thom for the four hour ride to this spectacular region in Vietnam. The ride was pleasant, the motorcoach was comfortable and Thom even set up a wireless hotspot for us from his phone. We stopped along the way at a market about half way. It was worth the drive as Halong Bay is simply magical.
Halong Bay is made up of more than 2,000 small islands that rise up from the bay. These limestone outcroppings were created by the sea over 500 million years ago and are a sight to behold. We boarded a traditional Vietnamese junk boat for our overnight cruise around Halong Bay and after settling into our cabins we were welcomed aboard with a wonderful lunch. During the afternoon we tendered to a private beach and took in the scenery of this amazing place and enjoyed the cool waters which was a refreshing break from Vietnam’s heat and humidity.
In the morning we rose early (around 6AM) and enjoyed a light breakfast surrounded by other traditional junk boats, fishing boats and floating markets. In Halong Bay you don’t go to the convenience store, the convenience store comes to you.
At about 7:30 we tendered to the Hang Sung Sot caves. Known as the Cave of Surprises, the Hang Sung Sot caves were discovered in 1901 by a French explorer. The climb to the top is quite steep (about a hundred steps) but it’s worth the trip. Once you get to the top you enter the first of two chambers filled with thousands of stalactites and stalagmites. A narrow passageway brings you into the second and even larger chamber.
The caves are lit by spotlights highlighting their natural beauty. Going down was certainly easier than going up and is great practice for the temples of Angkor Wat. After debarking the junk boat we boarded the bus for the Hanoi to catch our flight to Siem Reap. En route we stopped for lunch at Chi Linh Country Club and arrived at the airport for our 5:30PM flight to Siem Reap. Next stop Cambodia.