Posted by: Tommy | May 25, 2011

Ha Long Bay

I’d never heard of Ha Long Bay before and in our initial plan for Vietnam, we weren’t going to have time to see it (even after we figured out that it existed and was awesome).  But after talking to travelers for 2 weeks, it became clear that Ha Long Bay was not to be missed.  And so we ended up skipping Hue entirely (supposedly another gem of Vietnam) and limiting Hanoi to a few short hours of sightseeing in order to take the trip to Ha Long Bay.

Well, Emily and I did.  Most people take a 2 or 3 day trip to Ha Long Bay, because it’s a 4 hour drive from Hanoi and to go there and back in one day involves sitting in a van for 8 hours.  We didn’t have time for the 2 day trip, so Anna decided to skip it and Emily and I got up at 7am for a day in the Bay.  And I’d say it was worth it.

Ha Long Bay is one of the most photogenic places we’ve been on the trip – small rock islands shooting straight out of the ocean, covered in trees and other plant life.  There are a multitude of boats, some of them carrying tourists and others that Vietnamese people use to fish the Bay (and live on).  On our 1 day trip, we sailed around the bay, stopped off at a fish-selling boat (they keep their fish alive, swimming in a holding tank with a netted bottom) and toured a huge cave.  The guide didn’t really speak English, so we didn’t learn anything about the caves, the geology of the islands or really about Ha Long Bay at all.  But it was stunning.  I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

On the boat at Ha Long Bay

The flat-looking structure is a permanent one.  People live on it and make their living selling live fish that are caught in the Bay.

Two Ships

Light coming through a cave opening

Inside the caves of Ha Long Bay

Vietnam is fairly photogenic on the whole – check out the Vietnam Flickr set here to see more of our pictures from Vietnam.



  1. The photos at Flickr are great. Turn on the slide show. They show the Vietnam beauty and your experience.

    What causes the various bright colors in the caves?

    Thanks for the stories and photos.

  2. I read this post at the time and never had time to post a reply. Like so many places you have seen, this one is incredlbly visually unique. I am glad you got to see it Tommy and sorry Anna missed it. The cave photo with the light shining through reminds me of a cathedral we visited in Toledo, Spain. The architect had created an effect like that to have light from a high window shine down on some religious paintings and sculptures. The effect was other worldly, just like this one.

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