Cruising Around Ha Long Bay

It was another early start today as we were picked up by our bus to head out to catch our boat for our cruise around Ha Long bay. After 3.5 hours and our obligatory stop at a souvenir stall we arrived at a port where there were hundreds of boats waiting to pick up their guests. The first ones we passed looked luxurious and we were reliably informed that they were extremely expensive and we seemed to pass boat after boat all lowering slightly in quality and luxury. We wondered whether we had seen a cheaper tour advertised than ours and sure enough came to the end of the harbour and our boat! Not exactly how it looked in the pictures but across from the harbour we could see the Karsts looming up out of the water and it was only a matter of minutes before we were winding our way through them.

There are some sights around the world which I have romanticised about seeing and the Karsts of Ha Long bay was certainly one of those and huge smiles crept upon our faces as we sat on the top of our boat and watched them pass by.

I thought that we were just spending our time sitting on the boat admiring the scenery and while the boat wasn’t flash it was spacious enough for the 20 passengers on board. However we had things to do and experiences to enjoy and Tin Tin our amiable guide kept us all on a strict schedule.

We wolfed down a huge lunch and then got dropped off at one of the Karsts. We were stopped halfway up the hillside for a talk by Tintin but unfortunately the spot he stopped us in was like an oven and the whole group was just begging for him to stop talking and let us continue on our way. We were apparently going to see a cave and when we finally entered it we found it was absolutely massive. A complete surprise and I can certainly see where the inspiration for locating the lairs of James Bond villains came from!

Back on the boat for another cruise and we stopped to enjoy some kayaking. Again it was very peaceful kayaking between the Karsts and wonderful to be able to see them up close. Unfortunately it also meant we were closer to a bit of the rubbish strewn around the area and the water didn’t look overly inviting to swim in. To be fair with this many boats in the area it’s no surprise to see the rubbish but it’s always a shame to see.

Our boat put down anchor in a quiet bay which we had all to ourselves and after a quick shower we sat on the top deck enjoying some refreshingly cold beers. T

The harbour was full of boats waiting to take all us tourists out on the bay.

Entering the karst system was pretty magical.

Us just having a great day!

While we were cruising around we didn’t see too many boats but when we stopped there was a congregation of loads of them.  Which meant all the views we were hiking up to see were full of other boats which was a bit of a shame.

The interior of one of the caves on one of the karsts.  So much bigger than I thought it would be and the patterns on the roof was quite unusual.

The weather cleared a bit in the afternoon and the views got even better.

There is a shipping channel going right through the middle of this Unesco listed sight which is quite unusual but does make for some good watching.

Out on the kayaks meant we could get even closer to the karsts and it was also very peaceful just paddling around.

Some dogs guarding the cave.  In fact we noticed that there were lots of dogs on islands or boats.

Paddling around the bay way just stupendous!

Our boat, anchored for the night in our private bay.

We enjoyed a full moon casting light over the outlines of the karsts for the evening which was amazing.

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