The dilemma for many tourists travelling in Vietnam is how to fill in all the best pieces in a limited time. The answer is that it is not possible in a single trip, especially for those who really want to appreciate what they are seeing. It is easy to arrange a Vietnam travel package, board a plane and get a visa to Vietnam on arrival at the international airport in Hanoi. To give full justice to the attractions in the north alone, two weeks may not even be enough. One of the reasons is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Halong Bay. There are compelling reasons why this Bay demands a couple of days of anyone’s holiday.
Halong Bay is around 4 hours by road, due east of Hanoi. A cruise in the Bay is something that can be arranged locally with a Hanoi travel agent for those who have not pre-booked a Vietnam tour package. It involves being collected from a Hanoi hotel and returned there after trip.
The Bay has a coastline of 120 kilometres and there are fishing villages, with all the houses on stilts, dotted throughout. Halong is a town of over 200,000 people. It is on the main road north to China and today tourism is the biggest contributor to its economy though there is industry and Halong is an active port.
The reason for visiting this area is not the town but to sail on the beautiful Bay between the islands, most of which are uninhabited limestone rocks with caves and grottoes. Limestone erodes easily so the Bay must have changed dramatically over the years. The obvious exception to uninhabited rocks is Cat Ba, the largest of the islands, inhabited and with accommodation for those wanting to stay and explore the jungle interior as well as its shores.
The real treat here is to board a traditional junk and spend time on the Bay. The accommodation varies from boat to boat but in every case, it is comfortable with facilities to sleep on board and of course being fed meals as well. There is little point in rushing your time in Halong Bay unless it is absolutely imperative. There are few better places to relax and if you are continuing on to enjoy a busy schedule this may be your last chance to do so. Cruises are available for up to four days, three nights so bear than in mind when you are making plans and certainly transmit your wishes to the Vietnam travel agent organising your itinerary.
If you want to pick the driest months for your visit they are autumn, September to November, and spring, March to May but they are also the busiest periods. From May through to September the Bay is quieter and that in itself is an attraction. Most of the time rain doesn’t last very long but of course if a storm sets in then any trip on the Bay will be cancelled. Frankly, you would be very unlucky for that to happen so come on, book!