Sometimes a moment of peace in a beautiful setting is what you need when traveling, especially when you are in northern Vietnam. A nod to Halong Bay for filling this need and for offering some of the most visually spectacular landscape in the region. Meaning “Bay of the Descending Dragon, ” Halong Bay has almost 2000 limestone islands that rise above the water like dragons moving through the sea.
After spending two wintry weeks in Hanoi in January, we were thrilled to feel the sun's warmth. The passengers on our boat all flocked to the top deck to relax and soak it up, while marveling in the possibility that peace and quiet could exist this close to Hanoi. For a moment, we were free of the crush of motorbikes, traffic, and endless honking.
The Vietnamese are apparently equipped with an entrepreneurial gene and find ways to sell you things – anything – at every turn, even on the open seas. For instance, throughout Halong Bay, rowboats filled with Oreo cookies, Ritz crackers and beer miraculously appear out of the middle of nowhere and sidle up on the side of the boat at every opportunity.
Relaxed and properly dosed with sunshine and Oreos, we returned to Hanoi the next day feeling refreshed and ready to take on the hustle and bustle of the city once again.
If you don’t have a high-speed connection or want to read the captions, you can view the Halong Bay photo essay.
Booking a Halong Bay Live-Aboard Boat Trip
Although it is possible to piece together a trip to Halong Bay independently, the Vietnamese make it mighty difficult. We booked a 2-day, 1-night liveaboard “deluxe” tour through Hanoi Guesthouse for around $50 per person. The additional $15 for “deluxe” was worth it to ensure a small group, a new boat, seafood meals and kayaking options.