I’m on a trip of a trip of a lifetime to SE Asia with my mom and good friend Sandra. See my original post here where I explain the how and why of us coming halfway around the world. Special thanks to my many travel blogger friends who were loaded with advice on what to do, where to go, and how to blend in.
While the busy city of Hanoi left me with mixed feelings, just a few hours away is the blissful Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you ever visit Vietnam, put this on your list as a “must do” because it is truly an experience not to be missed. (Thanks, Bao Ngo, for the heads up!)
A popular resort area, Ha Long Bay is in the Gulf of Tonkin and is lined by over 1600 surreal rock mountains that protrude from the sea like mythical dragons. Like giant floating mountains, I can see why this was the inspiration for the fictional setting of Avatar. Be sure to take a cruise, because it has to be seen to be believed. We spent the night on the “Paradise Peak” owned by a Vietnamese man who saw the value in developing the tourism here. A true visionary, the Paradise ships are some of the most successful cruise ships in the area.
Our ship was a wooden boat that brought back the elegance and charm of yesteryear. Impeccable service, outstanding food, and gorgeous accommodations made this one of my favorite experiences on our entire Asian trip. Check out our boat, where our butler Quat made sure we were well-cared for:
Fun fact: We got to wake up early and do Tai Chi with the crew. Normally it is done on-deck in the beautiful surroundings but temperatures were in the 40s so we opted for the dining room!
And then we were treated to a gorgeous sunrise as we had tea and biscuits before breakfast.
Even on the one night cruise, there were mini-excursions allowing us to explore even more of the Bay. The first one was a trip to Monkey Island, where small golden monkeys live on the rocks and shrubbery. These monkeys swim well and even eat mollusks; however, I am sure we tourists tossing our apples and bananas keep them well fed!
Next we had a trip to Surprising Cave, a cavernous exploration deep into the mountain. I had never been in a cave like this and enjoyed its beauty!
The last excursion we took was to Titop Island, named for a famous Russian general. 400 steps up and we were rewarded with a 360 degree view of natural splendor!
I would return here without a doubt! I’d love for my hubby to see it and could imagine honeymooners creating a memorable, magical start to their life together. Definitely put this on your bucket list!
Next Up: Weddings – A study in two different cultures.