Before going to the most famous part of the Bay of Ha Long, we get together for a few days in a no touristic corner where we can already see very closely these famous karstic peaks. Those few days allowed us to blow and reconcile with Vietnam (No one has tried to rip us off in this corner !) But the time for the departure approach, and we know that we can't leave Vietnam without taking a boat cruise in Ha Long Bay.
It's for Nils'birthday that this is done. We go to the official site so to speak, and there, it's the effervescence, there are people everywhere, and the prices posted are exorbitant. We go to the wicket to hope to see more clearly but impossible to make us understand. Luckily, a nice guide who speaks English comes to our rescue and takes care of the translation.
Apparently, it's too late for a cruise, we have to come back tomorrow. Yes, but tomorrow we go back to Hanoi to catch our plane ! They see our heads discomfited and finally someone gives the possibility to rent a private boat for a cruise of 2 hours. A boat just for us ? It suits us ! Especially since it is cheaper than sharing with other tourists.
We don't hesitate too much, and we accept. We board quickly on the Minh Quang which belongs to a small family, and we relax on the floor sipping a beer. The weather is not good, but the view remains beautiful and we admire the many emerging islands.
But by the way, what is Ha Long Bay ? :
Ha Long Bay is a marine landscape that brings together up to 2000 islands of limestone called karstic peaks. These rock formations are the result of an erosion phenomenon that spans millions of years.
The islands are inhabited only by animals and vegetation, it's on floating fishing villages that you find the only human dwellings..
According to legend…
There was a time when the Vietnamese being attacked by invaders, Gods decided to help them by sending a family of dragons to protect them. The dragons spat jades that turned into islands creating a wall that prevented the enemy from approaching. Once the war ended, the dragons decided to live in this bay, giving it its name: Ha Long "the descent of the dragon". Moreover, the green color of the water would be due to the skin color of the dragons who sleep there. Open your eyes when you go, you may see them ;)
The cruise happens quietly, the people are welcoming, but the lady insists too much to buy things, she goes up several times to see us to offer us different products: clothing, jewelry, etc. And we believed for a moment that we would be safe from all of this.
We reject the familiar feeling, and we focus on what surrounds us. It's pretty impressive! An animal life has developed on these steep islands. We have never seen so many raptors in the same place ! The color of the water and the mist that is today give even more mystic and mysterious side to the place.We expect at any time to see a ghost pirate ship or a legendary creature (a dragon for example) arise ! (As you can see, Ha Long Bay is a perfect place to use your imagination ! That being said, it does not take much for mine.)
Be careful with drones :
If you have a drone, you are advised not to fly it ! To begin with, drone and bird don't mix most of the time especially when they are bird of prey... A lot of drone have grounded in Ha Long Bay, avoid to complete the collection!
Moreover, it's their habitat, there are surely nests, needless to disturb them unnecessarily, or to risk to hurt one who will only want to defend its territory ! Taking the perfect picture or video should not always be the priority.
On the way back, the family invites us to share their meal, two fish that the son fished lasted while we admire the view. It's friendly, it allows us to finish on a good memory : a good hot meal surrounded by premises sailing in one of the most famous bay in the world.
We ended up joining the mainland, mixed on this experience. Although the landscape is impressive, and beautiful, we didn't vibrate with emotion. We didn't come out from there feeling like we were turned upside down like this can happen when a place transcends us. In addition, we paid too much for what we saw and for the duration.
Even if we had taken it differently, I'm not sure it would have changed that feeling. Why ? Because For it doesn't change that we had a good overview of Ha Long Bay and the crowd of tourists who sail there. The bay became a factory and we could not help but wonder what ecological impact it had on the Bay... (especially when we see waste floating on the surface of the water...)
One of our mistakes is that we went there « just to see ». I think our minds had already flown to Thailand. And we were not entirely there to enjoy it. This obviously plays on the experience.
What we should have done :
Get ready in advance to get off the beaten track, leaving via Cat Ba Island for example. There, where we were, it was a big marina so the perfect tourist stuff. If we had the time, we would have liked to also enjoy the Ha Long Bay by kayaking. We had done some research, but we were too late, which is not necessarily top, especially when we have a plane the next day haha.
How to book a cruise in Ha Long Bay ? :
You can book everything on site or from Hanoi. If you want to be quiet, you can go through tourist agencies that will take care of everything to organize for you. Otherwise, there is always a way to do it independently.
How long to spend in Ha Long Bay ? :
You can go for a few hours or several days, choosing to spend a night or two aboard a boat.
Here is our experience on Ha Long Bay, you surely say that isn't joy, and that it is not worth going there, but not at all ! We will never advise against a place to you because our experience was not the best. Never forget that each experience is unique : you will see things in your own way, with your feelings, and you will do it differently ! Even if we have not been transcended so to speak, we recognize the beauty of the landscapes, and the singularity of this bay. Just for that, it's worth a look, so don't hesitate to go !
So, want to be "dépayser" in Ha Long Bay ?