17 April 2019

A Voyage to Vietnam: Hạ Long Bay

After spending two nights in Hanoi, it was time to move on. We took a bus to Cát Bà Island, which would be where we were to stay for the next three nights. It was our base when exploring the Hạ Long Bay area.

Hạ Long Bay is pretty. It is perhaps one of the most picturesque places I have seen while in Vietnam. Most people decide to base themselves in Hạ Long City, but we opted to base ourselves in Cát Bà Town instead. And on one of our full days in town, we opted to do a full day trip to the bay.

Cát Bà Town has quite some developments on the main street facing the water, which visually isn't the most appealing thing. Nevertheless, creature comforts for the short-term visitor are quite available. Our day trip started from here, and we passed some floating villages on the way. I cannot imagine myself living long-term over water, so I think about how these people have managed to be in these conditions. They even have pets, like dogs, who skilfully navigate the series of planks and cross from one floating structure to another.

We spent the whole day on water. Our boat glided past plenty of amazing limestone karst structures, jutting out of the water like an otherworldly scene. It felt like almost everywhere I looked, there was beauty. Of course until I saw some floating trash stuck within a cove.

There was an opportunity to go kayaking, as well as swimming. But for me the thing I enjoyed the most (aside from the views, of course) was when we docked in Monkey Island. There were plenty of monkeys which would every now and then steal food from visitors. And there was this strenuous trek to the top of the rock, which was slightly technically difficult, but definitely worth the effort.


  1. I was really curious to see what it was about because I've heard about it as a destination. Bit like around Kho Phi Phi in Thailand, but it looks quieter and nicer (i.e. less over exploited?)

    1. Zhu,

      Once you're on the water, then it definitely feels quieter. But the town can feel like there's infrastructure just because there's a regular stream of visitors. And mind you, we stayed in the less touristy town, in Cat Ba Town, not in Ha Long City!