Vietnam’s Halong Bay is nothing short of spectacular; when the first jungle-covered island monolith comes into view, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed at the beauty of nature. Made up of thousands of limestone karst formations, islands, tiny islets, grottos and floating fishing villages, the region has been 20 million years in the making.
Ha long roughly translates to “descending dragon”. Legend suggests that the area was formed when the Jade Emperor (also known as the King of Heaven) sent a dragon and her children to earth, to help protect the Vietnamese from invaders. Fire and emeralds shot from the dragons’ mouths, scattering about the sea and sinking enemy ships; the enormous emeralds eventually turned to karst, forming the bay’s many islands.
We use a fleet of traditional-style wooden boats, with comfortable twin-share cabins and en suite bathrooms. Our on-board chef will keep hunger pangs at bay with a delicious lunch and seafood dinner, served alongside amazing vegetable sculptures; who knew a turnip could become a horse in just a few carves of a knife?! As evening falls, relax on the deck with a Bia Ha Noi and enjoy views of stunning scenery, floating villages and small fishing vessels while sharing travel stories with your group.
There’s more to Halong Bay than just cruising through emerald waters, admiring lush islets and waving to passengers on passing boats (although this level of relaxation is an activity we wholly endorse!). Hit the water in a kayak for an active adventure, enjoy a swim at Ti Top beach, or head ashore and explore the caves on one of the bay’s many islands. Some of the caves involve a walk up a number of steep steps, so it’s important to pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes with good grip.
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