Holiday in North Vietnam (Part 3: Ha Long Bay)

Our Holiday in North Vietnam (Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay and Ninh Binh), 6 – 12 October 2012

This blog is a continuation of my earlier blogs:

5.  Day 4: 9 October 2012

We arrived at Hanoi at about 5:30 am, went for early breakfast and were on our way to Ha Long Bay. Along the three hours bus journey…

We stopped over at Eran Cafe…

At Eran Cafe.

Coffee was introduced to Vietnam in 1857 by the French. Today, Vietnam is a leading coffee producer in the world.

Listening to the coffee story of Vietnam.

Made by Ha Long Eran Coffee Food Co., Ltd.

… and briefly to visit the private casino at Royal Hotel in Ha Long Bay…

At Royal Hotel.

Entering Royal Hotel to the private casino.

Ha Long Bay, located in the Gulf of Tonkin, with Quang Ninh Province, in the northeast of Vietnam, is 170 km from the city of Hanoi.  It is a famous site with interesting karst structure, which is part of the UNESCO Heritage List and is included in the List of the World  Nature Wonders. The spectacular seascape and exceptional scenic beauty of Ha Long Bay make this site one of the greatest treasures of our natural world.

Ha Long Bay is translated in English as the Descending Dragons Bay. It consists of as many as 1969 islands and islets covering an area of 43,400 ha.  Some of them are inhabited by people and most are unaffected by humans. Differing in shape and in size, several of these islands are hollow, with enormous caves, as well as the abundance of lakes inside these limestone islands, others support floating villages of fishermen, who ply the shallow waters for 200 species of fish and 450 different kinds of mollusks. These islands can be accessed by boats from many ports. The largest of the Ha Long Bay islands are four, namely Ban Sen, Cat Ba, Van Don and Quan Lan.

At the ticketing lobby waiting to board the cruise for Ha Long Bay.

Padi growing in a small glass vase placed on every table in the ticketing lobby.

Tomy and Siew Wai.

In a bump boat for the cruise.

James with his life jacket on.

Wearing life jacket…

All in orange…

That’s me and Brenda!

This is our cruise, Image Halong.

Having a refreshment break upon boarding.

Fresh fried prawns.

Yummy crabs.

Our “hotel” room in the cruise.

The toilet in the room.

James and the Captain of the cruise.

Chan at the head of the cruise.

Tomy, James, Sally, Janet and Vincent enjoying the breeze and scenic view.

Chan, Siew Wai and their parents on the upper deck of the cruise.

Richard enjoying.

Chan relaxing.

James having fun…

That’s me and Brenda!

We set out to visit the Hang Sung Sot…

At Hang Sung Sot.

Hang Sung Sot or the “Cave of Surprises” was discovered in 1901 by the French. Located on Bo Bon island, the cave rests 25 m above sea level and is immense. The cave’s ceiling is approximately 30 m high and the paved passage inside is 500 m in length. The uniqueness of this cave is that it holds many different shapes of stalagmites and stalactites which hang from the high ceiling. The formations inside seemingly come alive when light is reflected from several pools inside the cave.

James and Richard on their way to the cave.

Beautiful scenic view from Hang Sung Sot.

Entering the cave.

The interior of Sung Sot (Surprise) Cave.

A large tortoise formation.

A heart shaped formation.

Lum Wah and Chee Lan.

We next visited the Titop Island, which takes the shape of a crescent encompassing the island. Small though it might be, it wins kudos for its quiet and airy atmosphere, its snowy white beach, its clean and clear water, as well as its alluring landscape.

Titop Island was named in honour of the visit of Gherman Stepanovich Titop (1935-2000), the Soviet astronaut who was the second person to orbit the earth, on 22 November 1962, accompanied by Ho Chi Minh. Gherman Titop returned to Titop Island 35 years later, on 27 June 1997, three years before his death, in which time, the island that bore his name has become a major attraction in Ha Long Bay.

It is noted for having a viewpoint at its peak which affords splendid views all around Ha Long Bay. It takes more than 300 steps from the bottom to the top. Almost all tourists arrive on this island climb up to get the panoramic view of Ha Long Bay.

Approaching the Titop Island.

Stepping on the Titop Island.

Tomy, Richard, Chan and Dai Thang making it to the peak of Titop.

Siew Wai made it too!

That’s me…

Thumb up to Brenda!

The shelter at the top of Titop.

The splendid panoramic view of Ha Long Bay from the top.

That’s me and Brenda.

Chan, James and Tomy at the peak.

“Chin Swee” in Hokkien literally translates as “very pretty”.

A happy tourist family.

Capturing a view of the beautiful beach on the way down.

Swimming at Titop Island.

A Vietnamese woman in her mobile “stall”.

We were back to our cruise by 6:00 pm. Dinner and happy hour awaiting us next.

Was it “yum seng” or “yeo”?

James, Brenda, Chin Heng and Tan Peng.

The Manager and Captain of the cruise joined in the fun.

This was “yum seng”, drink to success and good health for all.

Janet, James and Richard danced their hearts out!

The party ended at about 12 midnight.

6.  Day 5: 10 October 2012

We were awake by 7:00 am and up at the upper deck of the cruise which was anchored at Ho Dong Tien in Ha Long Bay. The spectacular seascape and exceptional scenic beauty of Ha Long Bay was captured in this video: 360 degree of Ha Long Bay from the top of Image Halong

Tomy having yummy thoughts…

Chan and Richard enjoying the morning fresh air.

After breakfast, we set out to visit the Luon Cave by oared boats.

Luon Cave is about 60 m long and 4 m wide. The height of the ceiling ranges from 2.5m to 4 m up on tidal level. Therefore, it only can be accessed by small boat or kayak.

Passing through Luon Cave, tourists will reach a lake formed by an enclosed group of limestone mountains. The lake inside seems like a stadium surrounded by high podium. It is a brackish lake with calm and green sea water. The size of the lake is nearly 1 square kilometers. On the cliff are many fossilized freshwater snail shells proving that place used to be a deep freshwater valley. Especially, it is highlighted with pristine setting of ferns, orchids and wild golden monkeys.

The perfect combination of limestone mountains and jade-green sea makes Luon Cave a unique site to visit in Ha Long Bay. Furthermore, Luon Cave is a preferred place of tourists for kayaking.

On the way to Luon Cave.

Approaching the Luon Cave.

A closer view of the Luon Cave.

Entering the cave.

Rowing inside the Luon Cave.

Passing through the cave to this lake.

We were back on the cruise returning to shore. As the cruise sailed back to the pier, we notice this funny shaped island. We were told it is called the Thumb Islet.

The Thumb Islet in Ha Long Bay. It looks more like…

Bye, bye Ha Long Bay… Hanoi here we come…

We stayed the next 2 nights in Golden Lotus Hotel in Hanoi.

I will stop here…

In my next blog, I will share with you about our journey to Ninh Binh where we visited the temples of King Dinh and King Le, and rowed boats in Trang An: Holiday in North Vietnam (Part 4: Ninh Binh)

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