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Discover Halong Bay - World Heritage of Vietnam

If Hanoi is the grand old dame of Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City is the brash young floozy, then Halong Bay, Hue and Hoi An are the alluring mistresses you encounter along the way.

How to find safe travel in Halong Bay

Having read the news about tourist boat sunk in Halong Bay, Vietnam some days ago, ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA would like to give out some advices about how to travel safely and enjoyably in Halong Bay.

Cruising Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay looked picturesque and was sunny and warm. Indochina sails, Ha Long bay , Vietnam We got up early today as we need to catch the bus for our trip to Ha Long Bay, about 3 hours west of Hanoi.

Kayaking and Cycling in a World Heritage Bay

Halong Bay is one of the most spectacular, and therefore heavily 'touristed' attractions in Vietnam. Kayak on Ha Long bay, Vietnam .

A Look into Beautiful Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay has been declared a UNESCO World heritage site and it really deserves the designation. It is one of the most exciting unusual places I have been to in my life.

5/31/2012

Indochina Sails - Luxury Cruises on Halong Bay Vietnam

One hundred and seventy kilometers from Hanoi, in northeastern Vietnam,Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage website and undoubtedly 1 of the most gorgeous locations on earth.

The bay is a magical blend of land and sea with thousands of limestone islands and islets in a myriad of shapes and sizes. A lot of the islands include caves and grottos, some hidden away for millions of years, but now accessible for our lucky guests to explore and marvel at their immensity and spectacular displays of stalactites and stalagmites. The bay is bordered on the south and southeast by the Gulf of Tonkin, on the north by China and on the west and southwest by Cat Ba Island and encompasses 1553 square kilometers.

Backed by over ten years experience hosting international guests on the tranquil waters of Halong Bay, Indochina Sails has set a new standard for luxury cruising. The first company to offer overnight cruises on the bay, we are now widely known as the number one choice for discerning travellers. Our fleet of six newly built wooden junks are designed in time-honoured traditional style, with contemporary and luxurious cabins and facilities. What better way to experience the natural beauty and spectacular seascape of this UNESCO World Heritage site than on board an Indochina Sails junk!

Each of our boats functions spacious, well-appointed cabins and suites with significant en-suite bathrooms, a large sundeck with comfy lounging furniture and an elegant dining room and bar. We have designed and fitted our boats to international standards whilst maintaining traditional styling, producing the best balance of contemporary comforts and nostalgic ambiance.

Our boats are built in Vietnam, utilizing neighborhood supplies and the handiwork of skilled craftsmen and artists. The wood featured in the interiors is known as “go huong”, which translates as aromatic wood, it is a highly durable and beautifully grained wood which adds to the wealthy and warm character of the boats.

Our new boat, the Indo three, also features ceramic artworks handcrafted in Bat Trang, nicely identified as the house of the country’s most talented ceramic craftsmen. All of our boats are decorated with silk from Van Phuc, the “Silk Village”.

The “Valentine”, perfect for those searching for a much more exclusive and intimate expertise, is a full service vessel offering all the facilities and amenities of our bigger boats, but with only five cabins 4 Deluxe cabins at 19 square meters every single and one Suite cabin at 30 square meters, all with Jacuzzis.

Whichever of our boats you sail on we make your journey special proper from the commence by supplying our own private pier to embark from.

Supported by Indochina Sails - The most luxury and safest cruises in Halong Bay

INDOCHINA SAILS
Hanoi Office
Add: 27 – A6 – Dam Trau Quarter – Hai Ba Trung District – Hanoi – Vietnam
Tel: +84 – 4- 39842362
Fax: +84 – 4 – 39844150
Email: info@indochinasails.com

5/24/2012

Beautiful boat for a great tour

This is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been! Halong Bay was breathtaking and a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget. It is no wonder why this place is a UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

We arrived at the pier mid-day and were taken by boat out onto Halong Bay for our 2 day/1night on the Indochina Sails cruise.

This boat was so beautiful! Heavenly. Our stateroom had nice big windows looking out onto the bay, a big comfortable bed and a surprisingly large bathroom for being on a boat and of course it was a place we could crank up the AC. The boat was all dark wood and elegant. The top of the boat was the best part with comfy lounge chairs and umbrellas to escape the mind numbing heat.

We arrived on the boat and were served "welcome drinks" and then sat down to an amazing 7 course lunch (and of course the accommodated my food issues making me special dishes!). The food was ahhh-mazing.

We headed out past Head Island, Turtle Island, Heaven's Gate Island and arrived at Luon Cave. We got to go kayaking in the bay to explore the cave and coves. This was my favorite part of the whole trip!

Then we got back on the boat and sailed over to Tiptop Island where we hiked to the top of the mountain for fantastic views of the bay and then went swimming and relaxed on the beach.

We had a delish dinner buffet on the boat and anchored in the Luon Bo area for the night. After dinner Brad got out his ipad with this cool astronomy app and we sat up on the deck looking at the starts and identifying them with the ipad. You point the ipad at the sky and somehow it knows what you're looking at and it tells you what's up there... my dad would love this.

We slept comfortably on the boat, but I woke up really early and quickly got up on deck so I could enjoy the quiet early morning. I got some coffee and sat up on the boat deck, watching boats and islands pass and I don't think it could have been more peaceful. Brad joined me after awhile and we participated in morning Tai Chi on the sundeck.

Our last excursion was Surprise Cave. I am not a fan of caves, but did not want to miss out on this opportunity. It was a million degrees of tropical heat as we set off for this cave and climbed the stairs with massive amounts of other people.

It was time to go back to the harbor and on our way we enjoyed a big breakfast on board, as well as some breakfast beverages and then went up on the sundeck where we hovered in the shade under the deck umbrellas and enjoyed one last tropical drink.

Of course we had our exciting 4 hour drive back to Hanoi where we saw the same crazy drivers, animals and rice fields, but in reverse. I was sad to leave Halong Bay, I would have loved some more time on the boat and beautiful bay!

5/18/2012

My Ha Long Bay Visit

Before I moved to Vietnam, one of the things that most impressed me about the country were pictures I had seen of Ha Long Bay. The beautiful pictures showed romantic views of limestone islands sitting in gorgeous blue water, and I knew this would be a place that I would have to visit!

Much to my surprise, when I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City I realized that this magical place was pretty far away. Unfortunately, after a year of working in, and traveling around, this impressive country I had yet to accomplish my goal of visiting the bay. Recently, while on a business trip to Hanoi, I took a few extra days and finally got to Ha Long Bay.


I booked a tour with a local Hanoi travel agent recommended by a friend. I knew that I didn’t want to go for a cheap, low budget tour on my first visit to the bay so I decided to go for one of the nicer, but still affordable, options. When I had everything booked I could barely sleep because I was so excited.

A bus picked me up in Hanoi in the morning and we made the long drive to the boats. I was surprised how long the drive took as I originally thought that Ha Long Bay was closer to the city. Still, the ride was comfortable and we made it to the water with few complaints. Plus, while we drove along, we got the chance to introduce ourselves to the other travelers who would be joining us on our adventure.

We boarded a small boat at the somewhat chaotic and crowded marina and rode out to the larger boat we would be spending the night on. The boat was beautiful with a rustic, wooden exterior that fit perfectly with the timeless location that surrounded us. Although the boat looked like a more traditional vessel, inside it was equipped with all the modern amenities that you would expect in a modern hotel room. The beds were comfortable and the rooms were surprisingly large for being on a boat.


Slowly, the boat moved into the area of the towering islands. Although I had seen many pictures I was unprepared for how truly impressive the rock formations are in real life! They were truly amazing to look at and compared to nothing else I had ever seen.

Eventually, the boat came to a stop where the rocks formed a kind of natural harbor. Here we exited and got the opportunity to check out a large cave toward the top of one of the large islands. The inside of the cave was massive, bigger than any other cave I had been to and I was surprised that it was in as good of shape as it was, considering the amount of tourists that pass through it daily. While I thought the cave was nice, the best part was the view it afforded from its high location. The boats resting on the calm water next to the islands were truly a sight to see, it reminded me of something you would see in a ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movie!

After exploring the cave, we had a couple of hours to kayak around in the clear, blue water. I had really been looking forward to the kayaking and it didn’t disappoint. Although the outside temperature was cooler than in HCMC I was surprised by how warm the water was as I paddled along.

Once we were finished kayaking it was time for dinner on the boat. We ate some delicious seafood as the sun sat around us and the rocks were bathed in an orange light. Once night fell I retired to my room where I peacefully went to sleep. I rested peacefully as the water was gentle and there was barely a sound outside.

In the morning we watched the sun rise over the landscape, had a simple breakfast and cruised out of the bay. Overnight, clouds had crept into the area and we got the chance to see a more mystical, foggy side of the bay. This was charming in its own way and I felt like an early explorer discovering a new land.

Finally we made it back to the mainland, boarded a bus and returned to the city. I didn’t want to leave such a magical place but I knew this would be the first of many trips as I don’t think I could ever spend enough time in this picturesque land that is truly a natural wonder.

Supported by Indochina Sails - The most luxury and safest cruises in Halong Bay

INDOCHINA SAILS
Hanoi Office
Add: 27 – A6 – Dam Trau Quarter – Hai Ba Trung District – Hanoi – Vietnam
Tel: +84 – 4- 39842362
Fax: +84 – 4 – 39844150
Email: info@indochinasails.com

5/08/2012

Tips for enjoying Descending Dragon Bay without going completely insane

By far one of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth can be savored while sitting on the deck of a boat in “Descending Dragon Bay,” otherwise known as Halong Bay, off the coast of North Vietnam. A beautiful ocean landscape, Halong Bay is riddled with the kind of limestone karsts you find jutting out of the waters in Krabi, Thailand – only it is said to be even more dramatic and otherworldly.

You float along on boats designed to replicate ancient Chinese junks, gaping at the looming towers of jungle-covered rock, and I must admit it is one of the more humbling experiences of a lifetime.

But traveling in Halong Bay can be a jading travel experience due to the extreme commercialism going on there. It has become one of the major stops on the southeast Asian backpacking trail – couple that with the often “money-grubbing” attitude of many tourist-industry locals towards foreigners and you’ve got a situation where people are herded through like cattle with little thought to whether they are enjoying themselves or having a good time.

So is this monumental landscape still worth the trouble then? It can be if you follow these tips to maintain your sanity en-route.

1. Know what to expect

First off, the treatment of tourists in Halong Bay comes served at its most sour when you don’t realize what you’re getting yourself into. Your tour guides back in the big city will likely pump you up by selling you a vision of a peaceful bay tour with people waiting on you hand and foot, but that’s not how things really go down.

So visit the place because the scenery is out of this world, but realize that there will be challenges involved. Prepare yourself mentally.

2. Do your research and pay extra

As in many places in Vietnam, I uncharacteristically urge you to pay a premium price and go with a more luxurious tour. In Vietnam, and indeed Halong Bay, the old adage that you get what you pay for rings truer than ever.

Add in that it has become second nature for tour companies to scam you and lie to you in Hanoi, thinking they’ll never see you again, and doing your research ahead of time is crucial.

Talk to other tourists about their trips, post on forums like the one mentioned above to ask for referrals, and find a boat company that is setting themselves apart by offering world class tours to people who are willing to pay more.

I saw some Asian tourists on other boats who had done this and were riding lavish indeed, and best of all, you’ll get real customer service rather than the cheap Halong Bay variety.

3. Start at Cat Ba Island

Another way to get the most out of Halong Bay is to avoid the bus/boat combo tickets and shoot straight to Cat Ba. From there, you can get to know the people at your hotel and book day tickets off of the island, circumventing the scammers who often come from Hanoi. Cat Ba also offers great trips trekking across the island or kayaking through karsts in the smaller, more unspoiled Lan Ha Bay.

4. Pay attention to the season

Any trip to Halong Bay will be a little more sane if you go in the off season from around late September to June. Not to mention that if you decide to stay on Cat Ba Island, the hotel rooms will go for a fraction of the price during off season – I had an ocean-view room for a mere $10 a night with one of the most amazing sunsets I’ve seen in all my travels.

5. Advoid it completely

You don’t have to go to Halong Bay to see the scenery it has become famous for. As noted in The Lonely Planet, the limestone-studded waters continue all the way up to Southern China, and the view is just as breath-taking. Ask around about Bai Tu Long Bay to get a sense of what Halong Bay was like before the tourists arrived.

The waters there are largely untouched and don’t have the crowds or water pollution you find in Halong. It’s definitely off the beaten track, but with a little extra effort, you can make it happen. People are starting to get word about these other places but still largely avoid them because the lack of tourist infrastructure.

Source: tikikiki

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