Tag Archives: ha long bay

Part # 17: Panorama Vietnam

Vietnam #1: It’s a Long Ass Flight to Vietnam
Vietnam #2: The Best Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam #3: A Lesson in History and Propaganda
Vietnam #4: The Streets of HCMC
Vietnam #5: Is the Mekong Delta Worth It?
Vietnam #6: My First Overseas Doctor Visit
Vietnam #7: Welcome to Central Vietnam
Vietnam #8: Two-Wheeling in Vietnam
Vietnam #9: Don’t Skip Hoi An
Vietnam #10: A Hot Day in Hue
Vietnam #11: Exploring Hanoi
Vietnam #12: Hanoi Hilton
Vietnam #13: The Best View in Hanoi
Vietnam #14: Sheraton Hanoi Hotel
Vietnam #15: Need a Reason to Go to Vietnam: Here it Is.
Vietnam #16: How to Pick a Ha Long Bay Cruise

While I love taking and posting my own pictures, I don’t have a panorama option on my DSLR. Thankfully, Lisa’s camera does, and she loves taking panoramic shots. She does a great job, and it’s a neat way to get a feel for this fascinating country.

Thanks Lisa!

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A row of motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh City

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A row of shops in central Ho Chi Minh City

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The beach at our Hyatt hotel in Danang

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Fishing boats in the Hoi An countryside

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Lang Co Bay en route to Hue

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A street corner in Hanoi

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Sitting on a tree in Hanoi overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake

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The stunning and incomparable Ha Long Bay





 

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Vietnam #16: How to Pick a Ha Long Bay Cruise

Vietnam #1: It’s a Long Ass Flight to Vietnam
Vietnam #2: The Best Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam #3: A Lesson in History and Propaganda
Vietnam #4: The Streets of HCMC
Vietnam #5: Is the Mekong Delta Worth It?
Vietnam #6: My First Overseas Doctor Visit
Vietnam #7: Welcome to Central Vietnam
Vietnam #8: Two-Wheeling in Vietnam
Vietnam #9: Don’t Skip Hoi An
Vietnam #10: A Hot Day in Hue
Vietnam #11: Exploring Hanoi
Vietnam #12: Hanoi Hilton
Vietnam #13: The Best View in Hanoi
Vietnam #14: Sheraton Hanoi Hotel
Vietnam #15: Need a Reason to Go to Vietnam: Here it Is.

How to pick a Ha Long Bay cruise? Great question.

We spent months googling “best ha long bay cruise.” There are hundreds of cruise options, ranging from low-budget to the height of luxury. Every blog/article/review more or less said the same thing: You get what you pay for.

So we decided to pay a little bit more. We made a conscious decision to skip the low-budget backpacker option. While it’s possible to do a day tour of Ha Long Bay, it’s not advisable. It takes a good three to four hours to get from Hanoi to the port. The most common tours are one night or two. We chose a two day/one night tour.

After extensive research, we settled on Indochina Junk, which is described as a luxury cruise. We were specifically drawn to them because they operate exclusively in Bai Tu Long Bay – away from the hundreds of other junkets. Indochina Junk offers a couple of options. We chose the Dragon Legend, a 24 cabin boat with a maximum of 46 passengers for $219 per person. This price included transportation, lodging, four meals, and activities.

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Our itinerary

I won’t mince words. We LOVED it. Of course, it didn’t it hurt that the view was absolutely stunning. But it sure was nice to enjoy the limestone karsts from the luxury of a five-star cruise.

Our “luxury van” picked us up at our Hanoi hotel Sunday morning at 8 a.m., and I’m happy to report that it was rather luxurious – especially the wifi.

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Four hours later, we pulled up to the port and boarded a small transfer boat. And then, finally, finally, we boarded our cruise ship.

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The ship was extremely comfortable, with nice bedrooms, a lovely deck, lavish meals, and a very affordable spa. Our guide was friendly, and we loved having the bay to ourselves.

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And of course, here is our mind-blowing, breath-stealing view:

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We had an amazing time. Ha Long Bay is truly beautiful, and the Dragon Legend made the trip that much more enjoyable. I’m not surprised the cruise ranks number five on TripAdvisor. If you’re confused by the array of tour options, and you’re willing to spend a little extra, I highly recommend the Dragon Legend.

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Vietnam #15: Need a Reason to Go to Vietnam? Here It Is.

Vietnam #1: It’s a Long Ass Flight to Vietnam
Vietnam #2: The Best Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam #3: A Lesson in History and Propaganda
Vietnam #4: The Streets of HCMC
Vietnam #5: Is the Mekong Delta Worth It?
Vietnam #6: My First Overseas Doctor Visit
Vietnam #7: Welcome to Central Vietnam
Vietnam #8: Two-Wheeling in Vietnam
Vietnam #9: Don’t Skip Hoi An
Vietnam #10: A Hot Day in Hue
Vietnam #11: Exploring Hanoi
Vietnam #12: Hanoi Hilton
Vietnam #13: The Best View in Hanoi
Vietnam #14: Sheraton Hanoi Hotel

I knew Ha Long Bay was going to be pretty. But I did not expect it to take my breath away. And I did not expect the expression “take my breath away” to be quite so literal.

I now know why Ha Long Bay is a “must see” on all the traveling lists. It is beautiful in a way you can’t fully appreciate until you see it with your own eyes. So if you’re looking for a reason to go to Vietnam – here it is. Ha Long Bay. Don’t skip it. It is amazing, and I readily acknowledge that “amazing” doesn’t do it justice.

We were lucky. After a couple of days of rain, we woke up Sunday morning to sunny blue skies and 70 degree weather. We also chose our cruise company (more on that later) specifically because it took us to an isolated part of the bay, far away from the traffic jam of tourist cruises you so often see in pictures. This meant we had the unique karsts all to ourselves.

Warning: There is an absurd amount of pictures below. It is not my fault. I plead temporary insanity on account of the natural beauty.

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We spent some time sitting on the deck and doing absolutely nothing. Just basking in the afternoon sun and screeching with glee.

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And then we took – you guessed it – more pictures.

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I even took a video.

A Taste of Ha Long Bay from Nam Writes on Vimeo.

In the afternoon, we took out the kayaks for a a tour around the bay. It took Lisa and I a while to develop a rhythm, but soon, we were speeding along. Ha Long Bay is definitely the most beautiful place I’ve ever kayaked.

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I’m fairly certain we look like Olympic kayakers here.

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I think the technical term for this pose is called “killing it.”

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As the sun set into the water, the ship anchored for the night, and we enjoyed the colorful sky.

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The next morning we woke up at the crack of dawn – literally – to watch the sunrise. After shivering for a bit, the cold morning gave way to the warmth of the sun.

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After breakfast, we hopped over to a nearby island to visit an underground cave and relax on the beach.

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Lisa and I on the passenger boat en route to the island

We spent fifteen minutes exploring the cave.

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And then enjoyed some beautiful views while we dipped our toes in the sand.

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Our cruise ship anchored in the distance.

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Lisa is never happier than she is on/in the water.

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After that, it was time to head back to the mainland. Lisa and I were exhausted and headed straight for the airport for our flight home. But what a way to end our Vietnam trip. If you need a reason to go to Vietnam, it doesn’t get better than Ha Long Bay.

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