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A Photo Journey Through Halong Bay

The dramatic karst scenery of Vietnam’s Halong Bay is no stranger to the ‘Top Places…’, ‘Must See…’ and ‘Top 10…in Asia’ lists that dominate much of the travel blogosphere. One look at the images of these mighty limestone structures rising in the middle of the sea and I knew that I had to go, even though I was pressed for time and the weather wasn’t particularly cooperative.  I chose a day cruise to Halong Bay on a foggy February afternoon, deciding not to stay overnight and make the four hour long journey back to Hanoi instead.

The day began early and it did not look very promising with the sun wrapped up nice and cozy in a thick cloud of fluff. After everyone was picked up from Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the bus was finally on its way, stopping briefly at a huge souvenir store selling overpriced items. When we finally arrived at Halong Bay, the sun had slowly started to appear, making the group a little optimistic.

Get your Vietnam visa online.

Once we were sailing, the clouds cleared up and we could see the beautiful landscape dotted with many boats just like ours. It’s no secret that Halong Bay is very touristy and this puts many people off. But I did not mind this, I could easily see why it’s so popular and I’m generally not fussy about these things. After all, regardless of what we like to call ourselves, sometimes we’re all tourists.

A Photo Journey Through Halong Bay

Exploring the area by bamboo boats- A Photo Journey Through Halong Bay

Exploring the area by bamboo boats

A Photo Journey Through Halong Bay

A Photo Journey Through Halong Bay

A Photo Journey Through Halong Bay

Thien Cung Cave A Photo Journey Through Halong Bay

Thien Cung Cave



Do you spot the elephant? A Photo Journey Through Halong Bay

Can you spot the elephant?

A Photo Journey Through Halong Bay


There are a number of operators offering similar day cruises but the quality varies according to price. As warned by travelers in internet forums, you do get what you pay for. So to really enjoy the experience, I recommend avoiding the cheapest options. The route and itinerary followed by cruise ships on the day tour are the same, the difference lies in the condition of the boats, the service and the quality of the food served onboard.

I visited Halong Bay on the Cristina Cruise that I booked through my hotel and paid $50 for Deluxe Class (inclusive of bamboo boat rowing and lunch). The service was very good, the boat was well maintained and clean.  At lunchtime, we were served an excellent lunch of spring rolls and an assortment of seafood, chicken, tofu, rice and noodle dishes. Moreover they had also accommodated requests for vegetarian food. There was really nothing to complain about and that was a relief considering how many horror stories and unpleasant accounts of Halong Bay tours can be found online.

I only had a day to explore and did not have the option to spend the night on islands like Cat Ba that came highly recommended by other travelers for an ‘off the beaten track’ experience. I suppose that it’s an option to explore if you have a few days to spend around the area.
Get your Vietnam visa online here. For more travel tips, ideas and things to do in Vietnam (in places like Hanoi and Sapa) visit my Vietnam travel blog.

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Photojourney to Halong bay


This post is linked to the #SundayTraveler series hosted by Chasing the Donkey & A Southern Gypsy  as well as #WeekendWanderlust hosted by A Brit & A Southerner & other cool travel bloggers.



Todd @ Visit50

Saturday 4th of April 2015

Halong Bay was so beautiful! My travel friends warned me that it's a "tourist trap" and perhaps it is, but I loved the views. I liked the cave too - just like yours.

It sounds like your experience was very similar to mine - here's the link to my adventures:


Sunday 5th of April 2015

It definitely is a touristy place but with good reason. I'll be sure to check out your post :)

Hanoi to Lao Cai: To Sapa by the Overnight Express train | The Boho Chica

Thursday 19th of March 2015

[…] makes me believe that this is a frequent occurrence. So if you plan onward travel, like I did to Halong Bay on the same morning that I arrived in Hanoi from Lao Cai, be sure to allow time for delays. On […]

5 Interesting Travel Experiences in Asia | The Boho Chica

Tuesday 17th of February 2015

[…] raft floating on a river in Northern Thailand, having my mind blown by the mighty karst scenery of Halong Bay, or learning how to slow down at a sacred Tibetan pilgrimage site in Nepal, my travels in the […]


Thursday 11th of December 2014

I really liked Ha Long bay. I think we got lucky, we just asked someone in a restaurant to take us for the day and we didn't see another person all day


Thursday 11th of December 2014

I'd say you did! Not seeing another person in Halong Bay is truly rare.


Thursday 13th of November 2014

Thanks for sharing. I have plans to visit Halong Bay some time in the near future.


Thursday 13th of November 2014

You're welcome Avik, I think you'll enjoy it.

Comments are closed.