Vietnam: Ha Long Bay

Setting off on the waters of Ha Long Bay.
Loving the fresh ocean air!

After our intensive trip trekking through Sapa Valley, we had some much needed time to relax in Ha Long Bay. “Ha Long” means “descending dragons,” named after its unique limestone islands that jut out of the water with resilient vegetation clinging to steep edges. The local legend goes that in order to protect Vietnam from invasion, the gods sent down dragons that spat jewels into the sea, which formed into a defensive wall of the rock islands that makes Ha Long famous today. The bay is not only abundant in beautiful views, but also has a rich culture and history.

Small fishing boat on the bay.
Lots of junkets exploring the bay!

We arrived in Ha Long around lunchtime, and embarked on the small, but luxurious Silversea Junket. We were served an incredible multi-course lunch of fresh vegetables and seafood before having free time to relax on the deck or go kayaking and swimming on the bay. Fighting the exhaustion from Sapa, we opted for the latter, enjoying a chance to explore the famous emerald water.

Enjoying fancy drinks on the top deck.
Obligatory xring photo.

Later, we explored “Surprising Cave,” the largest cave in Ha Long Bay. This cave had a number of truly “surprisingly” large chambers. The cave itself is located high on the island, requiring visitors to ascend one hundred steps to get to the top. The end of the cave offers a spectacular view of the surrounding area from above.

Inside the cave.
View from Surprising Cave.

Our second day on the bay was spent on Cat Nam Island, a smaller island beside Cat Ba, the largest island in Ha Long. Cat Nam is a small resort with just a few bungalows spread across the long, narrow beach. To get there, we hopped onto a smaller boat that cruised through Ha Long Bay for about two hours before reaching our peaceful destination. While sipping on some sweet Vietnamese coffee, we had a chance to see some little fishing boats in action, and some of the famous “floating villages” of Ha Long. These villages are a collection of floating docks, fishing gear, and little huts that offer locals a chance to subsist on fishing and even aquaculture in some cases. They typically fish in the morning and sell their catch to larger boats that sell the fish on shore. Being the first inhabitants of Ha Long Bay, the occupants of the floating villages have been living on the water for generations.

Floating villages.

When we got to Nam Cat, we took out some kayaks again to explore the rock formations enclosing our island hideaway. One of the rock islands had a narrow, enclosed inlet, which led to a cave with an opening above, offering a beautiful collection of seashells and rocks to pick through. I’ve never seen shells with such bright colours and interesting patterns out in nature before!

Approaching our accommodations.
Shells!
Relaxing on the beach!
Views from our accommodation.

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