I have always wanted to visit Vietnam, and with Singapore happening in the last few years, I knew that it wouldn’t take long for me to reach Halong Bay.
The Halong Bay has always engrossed me with its photos, mention in books and depictions in movies like Indochina. It was the perfect place for me to know about the Vietnamese history and past, and hear tales of their courage down the decades.
And so, one fine day, I decided to venture out to explore Halong Bay with my family.
Day One – Hanoi, Vietnam
Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, still has that traditional South Asian charm that you miss out in many other cities today. Walking through the roads of Hanoi is still something that I have to learn; the paths were perhaps created for the pedestrians to walk on. Today, they are invaded by motorcycles and food sellers.
If you are going down the roads the first time, you are sure to notice the stools on the sidewalk – ready to welcome anyone who wants to try out some delicious Pho soup.
The Vietnamese know how to spend time, or how to get the job done quickly. I have seen them transporting everything from pots, plants to even tables on their bicycles.
Older men and women carry around fruits and heavy containers on their shoulders too with not even a winch – it seems to just come naturally to them.
The French architecture, including colorful shophouses and churches, is prominent, a legacy left behind by over hundred years of French colonization.
I’ve also read somewhere that there was a beautiful library in Hanoi at one time – which the French sadly burnt down when they lost against Vietnam and had to move out.
Some of the other stops that we made on our first day included the Temple of Literature, Ho Chi Minh Museum, and the Hoan Kiem Lake. We had dinner at Quan An Ngon restaurant and tried out some delicious and fresh seafood along with other Vietnamese dishes.
Day two: Halong Bay
Halong Bay was our destination to go the second day. Located a few hours by car from the center of Hanoi – around four hours for us, we stopped for shopping midway to buy some souvenirs and munch on some nibbles.
By the time we arrived at the port, we already had our boat waiting for us – a medium sized ship that would be our hotel for the next two days.
We followed it up with an excursion to the caves, and visited some islands – we saw some other tourists trying out kayaking here.
At sunset, we could see the sun glimmer down over the 1,600 limestone islands – it was a sight to behold! It is, to date, one of the best things I’ve experienced in my life.
Day 3: Halong Bay & Hanoi.
We were aboard our ship cum hotel now, and early next morning, were taken to a beach where we could swim and relax.
It wasn’t the best experience for us after witnessing a stunning sunset the day before. For one, the beach was small and the water was not very clean.
Additionally, it seemed that all tourist ships made a mandatory stop here, which meant that it was a pretty crowded place too.
After lunch, we made our way back to Hanoi.
Day 4 Hanoi, departure.
After a heady breakfast with crepes and fresh passion fruit juice, we made our way to the airport to fly back to Singapore.
What Should You Keep in Mind Before You Take the Halong Bay Tour?
For one, I do not recommend the A class. We had problems aplenty – our cabin had leaks, right above our head, and we couldn’t sleep properly without having to worry about drops falling over us.
We stayed at Golden Moon Suite Hotel in the center of Hanoi. It was one of our better choices – a medium class hotel offering large rooms and more importantly, a very friendly and helpful hotel staff.
Overall, it’s been a great trip and I hope to be able to return to explore more of Vietnam soon.
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