Cruising at the Halong Bay

On May 2018, I’ve got the opportunity to visit one of the most beautiful country in Southeast Asia, Vietnam. I went there for almost 10-days for business purpose, but I’ve managed to visit some other cities as part of my extended personal trip starting with Halong Bay, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Mui Ne. However, I lost most of the photos after changing my phone (nothing made me more sad than this T.T) and I wouldn’t be able to share most of my days in those beautiful cities except this one. If you are curious to see my experiences in other cities, feel free to follow me on Instagram. I’ve had a few posts about it and also put it in my IG Story Highlights. Well, thank God… I didn’t lose all the photos of this beautiful limestone archipelago.

The flights from Jakarta to Vietnam took around 4-5 hours. We transit at Ho Chi Minh before flying to Hanoi where we were going to visit our first destination, Halong Bay. Halong Bay is a beautiful natural wonder in North Vietnam. To visit this place, we need to hop on to cruise ships which are widely available in this region. On the first day, we spent overnight at Hanoi before going to Tuan Chau Marina, where we would catch our cruise, and this harbor located 170-km away from Hanoi (around 4-hours car ride).

There are so many cruise services available, from the low-key to the fanciest one. For us, we chose Aclass Stellar Cruise which offers us a traditional-oriental style of ship in our 2-days and 1-night trip. If you are wondering, this package costs us around US$224/ person with some other packages available for you to choose, from Deluxe, Premium, to Honeymoon Suites type of rooms. This rate includes pick-up and drop-off transportation from and to our hotel in Hanoi, freeing us some hassle as the location is quite far from the city.

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We arrived at Tuan Chau Marina at around 12pm and waited to onboard our cruise. As mentioned earlier, Stellar cruise ship has traditional-oriental style with wooden deck and corridors. My favorite is the open upper deck where we could enjoy the view as much as we want. Lunch and drinks were serverd as the sail set before we got time to refresh and unwind in our cabin.

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The mid-deck, not the upper deck yet. But this area is perfect to get some shades.
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The dining area.

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The cabin. This one is deluxe type.

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After taking some time to check our cabin, we got up to the upper deck and decided to enjoy the view as the ship sailed leaving the harbor. Hundreds of limestone islands appeared right before we even realized.

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The upper deck

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I could live with this view forever. 🙂

Luon Cave

Our first itinerary that afternoon is Luon Cave. We first moved to smaller boat to be able to reach this place. It gave you unique experience where you would be able to choose either kayaking for two persons or taking a rowing boat with bigger group. You could do those activities while enjoying the stone mountains. The weather wasn’t too hot too because you are surrounded by lots of high stones. I also lost the photos of this part, I’ve taken the photos from Google instead to give you the pictures of how beautiful this cave is. I’ve stated the source of the photos in the link below.

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Both of the pics are taken from HERE.

Ti Top Island

Our next destination is Ti Top Island (Dao Ti Top) which has a beach that is shaped like a crescent moon. The beach is very crowded with tourists, I guess because this place is one of the must-visit destination when you are cruising through Halong Bay. We hiked up to the summit at 110-meters height. Don’t worry, there is already stairs with around 450 steps that will help you hiking without a hassle. I was surprised that lots of grandma and grandpa who are the tourists visiting this place could hike up easily.

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Here we come to the part where I lost most of the photos again. T.T But, basically after hiking to Ti Top Island, we went back to the cruise. We spent some time to enjoy the sunset from the upper deck where our cruise also opened a bar where we could order our favorite drinks. It was one of my favorite moment on this trip.

A few hours later, we were served with amazing authentic Vietnamese dinner with a cooking show directly from the Chefs. I would say the foods in this cruise is amazing! Did I mention that Vietnamese foods is one of my favorite culinary delicacies? We couldn’t ask for more. After the dinner, we could do squid fishing from the deck. It was yet another unique experience for us.

Surprising Cave (Sung Sot Cave)

At the next morning, there were multiples activities you could enjoy. For the early riser, you could do ‘tai chi’ together at the upper deck with an instructor before breakfast is served. Then, the destination for today will be Surprising Cave (Sung Sot Cave) which is the largest cave in Halong Bay which you wouldn’t want to miss.

Sung Sot Cave has many rocky islands concentrated into lots of distinct and strange shapes. This geological formation of limestone in this cave took approximately in 500 million years, and it results in stunning landscapes in huge area of this cave. We walked into the cave where the landscape is not only flat one, but also a little bit of hiking too. The total duration to explore this cave is almost 1-hour.

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Look at this magnificent sculptures!

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From the outside at the top after a few minutes hiking.
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Locals catching and selling seafoods from the bottom of the cave which is connected to the sea.

From the top, we are able to see the typical Halong Bay views like the ones in Ti Top Islands. This is one beautiful cave indeed!

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After visiting this cave, we were back to the cruise. This time, the ship headed back to the port and while we were in it, there was a cooking class of the authentic Vietnamese culinary with the cruise’s chef. We enjoyed this cooking demonstration, and I was able to make Vietnamese spring rolls and salad!

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"Perhaps, then, this was what travelling was, an exploration of the deserts of my mind rather than of those surrounding me?" - Claude Levi-Strauss

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