When I was visiting Vietnam two years ago I spent a few days in Hanoi. My time was limited but I squeezed in a day trip to beautiful Halong Bay. A bus picked me up a little after eight in the morning and three hours later we were at Bay Chai Wharf.
As we pulled out on the boat I was a bit bummed that it was a miserable rainy morning but in the hour that it took to get out to the islands the weather cleared a lot.
Our first stop was a small floating fishing village nestled in the water below towering limestone cliffs. It looked straight out of a picture book.
As we got closer to the village we could see several traditional bamboo boats filled with produce for sale.
When the boat docked we had the option of renting a kayak or hiring someone to take us out to Luon Cave in a bamboo boat. I was traveling alone and was in the mood to relax so I chose to go out in a bamboo boat.
Luon cave has a height of only 2.5 to 4 meters depending on the tidal level which necessitates using a small boat to see it. In the bottom right of the photo below you can see the entrance at the bottom of the cliffs.
Approaching the cave it was much bigger than it first appeared at 4 meters wide and 60 long. It was so peaceful paddling through and listening to the soft echoes of the lapping water.
Passing through Luon Cave was a lake enclosed by limestone mountains. The water was a beautiful emerald green and combined with the beautiful cliffs it was truly idyllic.
All too soon I was back at the dock and then back on board the boat setting off for other spots in Halong Bay.
We sailed past Ga Choi Islet (or Trong Mai Islet), the two white rocks in the bottom left in the picture below. The rocks take their name, either fighting cocks or kissing cocks, based on the fact that at a certain angle the two rocks look like birds leaning in to touch beaks.
We next docked to visit Thien Cung Grotto (Heavenly Cave). After a bit of a climb we entered an amazing cave complex illuminated with different colored lights. My favorite part was a spot where there was an opening in the cave roof allowing natural sunlight to stream in.
From Thien Cung we headed back to Bai Chai Wharf arriving at dusk. It had been a lovely day and my only regret is that I didn't have more time to explore the islands of Halong Bay.