This month marks one year since my trip through South East Asia. I've not traveled outside a 100 mile radius from NYC since then. Although I've been content staying local, I definitely miss the thrill of backpacking. On that note, I thought I would do a "throwback" and focus on one of my favorite parts of the trip. If you haven’t read my first blog, please check it out: Backpacking for the First Time!
When visiting Hanoi City in Vietnam, I took a one-day tour to see Ha Long Bay. Known for its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands topped by thick jungle vegetation, it was easily my favorite place throughout the entire trip.
It is said that Ha Long Bay was named after “Mother Dragon." When Vietnam had just started to develop into a country, Mother Dragon and her family were sent by the gods in order to fight off invaders. While defending the country, the dragons began spitting out pearls into the bay which turned into 1,960 islands and islets. This created a protective wall against the enemies’ ships that eventually hit the rocks and never conquered the land.
Today, most of the islands are uninhabited and unaffected by humans. A community of around 1,600 people live on Ha Long Bay in four fishing villages, one of which I got to visit. They live on floating houses and are sustained through fishing and marine aquaculture.
The tour I was a part of included a boat cruise to visit caves and the tunnels that run through them. Delicious traditional Vietnamese cuisine was provided.
I got to see Dog Islet, Incense Burner Islet, and Fighting Cock Islet, and explore the Thien Cung Cave. Hạ Long Bay is the center of a larger zone which includes Bai Tu Long Bay to the northeast and Cat Ba Island to the southwest. These larger zones share a similar geological, geographical, geomorphological, climate, and cultural characters.
Although I didn’t have the chance, I would recommend staying at least one night in the area. There are options to stay on an over-night luxury cruise which will allow you to explore more places and experience a sunset on the bay. Overall, this was such an amazing experience, one that I will never forget!