Ha Long Bay is a vast body of water jutting into the South China Sea that features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes. Think of your typical painting at a Chinese restaurant, only instead of rice fields, you have water. It’s quite the amazing place, and to view it from a boat ride is simply incredible.
Tours are the best way to see the area and get to spend the night. In this case, it is worth to spend extra for a good tour to ensure that you get good food and accommodation. We booked ourselves into a 2 night, 3 day package (“the usual”), where you spend one night on the boat in the middle of the bay and one night in a hotel. Instead of spending our hotel night on Cát Bà island though, where most tours stop for the night, we would be spending our night on a private island.
First thing first, we joined other tourists, got on a bus and made our way to the city of Ha Long. There, we were split into two groups and boarded our junks (not real junks, but boats made to look like traditional junks). After about a 40 minute sail, we finally started to see the limestone islands poking out of the water.
Many people live in Ha Long Bay in floating villages. It makes for interesting sights along the way – it’s quite fascinating to see how people live on water.
Eventually we made our way To Sung Sot cave, but we stopped to go for a quick kayak ride around the area first. The cave itself is quite enormous, and all lit up pretty. I’m not a big fan of caves though; my favourite part of the cave is the incredible view of the bay from the top of a long staircase.
Afterwards we boarded the boat again, and headed to our own middle of nowhere to anchor for the night. We ate a delicious meal of seafood and watched the sun set over the bay. Sadly it was cloudy, and so there were no stars to stare at. Being winter, it was also pretty cold and unlike last time, I did not go swimming.
Eventually it was time to go to bed, and things turned a little… sour. Our room was nice enough, but we soon discovered that there were bedbugs. We hadn’t even tried to get into bed yet and Travis killed 3 of them within a matter of minutes. This being a boat, and the middle of the nowhere, I felt trapped on a torture boat. The boat was full, so we could not change rooms. We made plans to sleep outside on the top deck (where it was cold and possibly rainy) but decided to speak to our tour guide first. We were luckily anchored against another boat, and they had a room available on that boat. In fact it was a staff room with no running water in the washroom, but we took it. We grabbed our bags, walked through hallways and kitchens, went overboard and into the next boat and entered our new room. It was better, but right against the party room blasting music. Thankfully, we managed to fall asleep and did not get any bites of any sorts.