For every tourist visiting Vietnam, Ha Long bay, is a must visit place. Not only due to the fact that it is a part of the new seven wonders of the world but also because of its sheer natural beauty and charm.
In local Vietnamese language Ha Long means a descending dragon. It is believed that when Vietnam begin to develop as a country, Gods sent a dragon to prevent the invaders from attacking the people who were starting a life here.
There are two more beautiful bays neighboring it namely Lan Ha bay and Tu Long bay. We chose the Lan Ha bay for two reasons, first it is far away from Hanoi so not many tourists boats venture here and secondly there are many white sand beaches. Also it is the best place for sailing and kayaking. In fact my personal view is that you do not have to visit all three, pick one and enjoy.
Lan Ha bay lies on south and east of Cat Ba town but it is part of a different province of Vietnam as a result ships from Ha Long bay are not allowed to enter in to La Ha bay due to provincial restrictions. There are many species of fish, Mollusca, hard and soft corals and some large marine animals such as seals and dolphins, though there are very few of them.
It occupies an area of about 1553 sq kms made up of about 2000 limestone islets, formed in almost 500 million years. Human presence in this area has been confirmed by historical research. In 1994, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Our trip from Hanoi started early and we drove to the Cat Ba town. From here we were transferred to the Cruise ship via a smaller boat. After we were transferred to the Cruise ship we really felt happy that we chose Era Cruise. It was a new ship and the suites, decks, food and staff were all really superb. We could not have asked for more.
The first activity was a sumptuous lunch after which we went to see the caves. On return it was time for swimming and kayaking followed by music and drinks on the deck. Post dinner we called it a day as we had to rise early to see the sunrise.
The morning began with a Tch chi class on the deck, followed by a brunch. After that we were transferred back to the Cat Ba island for our return journey to Hanoi.