December 17, 2015
driver and guide picked us up at the hotel at 7:45 for the 4 hour
drive from Hanoi to Halong Bay. It was a long drive but also interesting
to see a different part of the country. The traffic wasn't as heavy
but the drivers were just as crazy. As our guide said, in the US
we drive on the right, in the UK on the left, and in Vietnam, in
the middle. And they use their horn a lot. We
passed fields of rice and other crops with people working in them.
We also passed people carrying interesting cargo on their motor
bikes and bicycles, including this man with his cow.
stopped half way for restrooms and tea. It turned out it was also
a workshop with all types of crafts. Our favorite was the young
girls doing embroidery. Such detailed, back-breaking work. We ended
up buying two small pieces with scenes of rice fields and Halong
we got to Halong Bay, we were met by the Paradise cruise line staff.
They had coffee, tea, juice and small snacks waiting for us. We
were then called to board our ship. The ship was refurbished 3 months
ago and is very lovely inside. It has 20 cabins. Our cabin and bath
is bigger than anything we have had on a cruise ship. We were given
lunch with a buffet selection of salads and desserts and a choice
scenery in Halong Bay is spectacular. Giant limestone rock formations
rise up from the bay. Local fishing boats and fishing villages mingle
with the cruise boats. Halong Bay is spread across 580 square miles,
with more than 2000 islands made of limestone. It has been designated
a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
lunch we boarded wooden paddle boats for a ride on the bay to two
caves. Our rower was a young lady. When
we passed through one cave, we were greeted by a family of golden
monkeys swinging from the trees. We were lucky that the weather
cleared, the sun came out and warmed up a bit.
then cruised to another location where there is a large cave called
Surprise Cave. We climbed 100 steps to the first part of the cave
which was quite pretty. But further up was a huge cave - like Carlsbad
Caverns. Indeed a surprise and well worth the climb.
Back on the boat it was time for happy hour (2 for 1 drinks), then
a cooking demo on making spring rolls. Originally these were only
served to royalty as the common people could not afford all the
Dinner was buffet style with a nice variety of food, including
some barbecue choices on the deck. We could have stayed to watch
a movie but decided it was better to enjoy a good night's sleep.
December 18, 2015
an early morning session of Tai Chi on the deck, we were served
some pastries and juice. Then we cruised to an island with an observation
deck on top. 402 steps later, we overlooked Halong Bay. It was worth
Back on the boat, a breakfast buffet awaited us. We got back to
port where our driver and guide met us for the drive back to Hanoi.
We were so glad we decided to do this trip. It was a nice, relaxing
way to spend our last days in SE Asia.
To view more photos from our trip to Halong Bay, please go to Halong
Bay Photo Gallery. To read about other places we visited on
our trip to SE Asia, go to SE Asia
Locations Visited Photos Map