We went to Ha Long Bay on our second full day of our Riches of the Mekong trip. Catch up on our first day’s blog post, Hanoi: orderly Chaos.
Ha Long Bay
It was a long bus ride out to Ha Long Bay from Hanoi. It’s only 113 miles but the going is so slow it takes about 4 hours. About halfway we stopped at a really nice shop along the way which featured local artisans. The embroiders are on site and are victims of agent orange. So the shop helps some of the disadvantaged.
Caves of Ha Long Bay
We arrived on our luxury “junk” (a ship) and unpacked. Next, we were served a very nice lunch. Later that day we sailed (motored) to a set of caves (Sung Set caves) high up on one of the limestone islands.
Ha Long Bay is famous for hundreds of islands abruptly jetting out of the bay. It’s surreal to look at in person.
The islands are made of limestone and so easily erode – hence the numerous caves. And these were absolutely huge caves, very worthwhile to walk through. The climb up to the cave and the long walk through the caves took most of the afternoon. Stunning is the best word to describe what we saw.
An evening on the Junk
After cooling off on the ship, we were offered a cooking class (spring rolls) and a wine tasting (South African, French and Australian wines). This gave us a nice chance to meet our fellow passengers and relax. This was followed by an excellent dinner where we were dressed in traditional Vietnamese king and queen costumes.
Unfortunately a storm was forecasted for the night and early morning and so we were ordered back to the pier. Even the next day, no sailing was allowed. So after checking out of the junk, Amawaterways went to “plan B”. In this case, we boarded our bus and went to Ha Long City. There we visited a seafood market.
Ha Long City Fish market
The Ha Long City fish market contrasted with Old Hanoi; the Ha Long City market was clean with fish in cold filtered water and an absolutely staggering array of fish and seafood. And not a smell in the air. The city itself was clearly prosperous with luxury malls, modern museums and improving infrastructure around town. As it turned out, this was a great plan B.
Next it was time for the journey back to Hanoi airport.
AmaWaterways made all the logistics easy. We had packed an over night bag for our Ha Long Bay trip.
Meanwhile the rest of our luggage was stored on the bus. We got a chance to rearrange our luggage in preparation for our flight out of Hanoi to Siem Reap Cambodia. AmaWaterways checked us in, took care of our luggage for us and assigned seats.
The flight was about 90 minutes (easy!). AmaWaterways got us through passport control easily (we just followed our cruise manager through a special gate, no waiting and no passport agent needed) where we waited for our luggage. Once passed Cambodian customs, we gave the luggage back to AmaWaterways for transport to the hotel.
The end result: Ama made the logistics simple and easy.
Next up: Siem Reap Cambodia – to continue the series click this Angkor Wat link.
In the meantime, enjoy some more pictures: