Sunday, January 29, 2012

Vietnam (1) - Hanoi to Halong Bay

We visited Vietnam in July 2009, the first leg of our honeymoon which took us from Vietnam into Cambodia before relaxing in the Maldives for 5 glorious days. Why Vietnam? Well to be honest the idea came from watching Top Gear's Vietnam Special. Any of you who watched it will know that as well as being fun viewing it really showed just how beautiful this country is and when you consider its past it is steeped in interesting history.

About to leave for Dusseldorf airport
We flew from Dusseldorf a couple into Hanoi via a brief stop over in Bangkok. First impressions of Hanoi, hot very hot and slightly chaotic not unlike many cities in Asia. If you think of hiring a car, stop, think again and hire a guide/driver. Rules of the road are very fluent in this part of the world. As mentioned the humidity level in Vietnam can be very, very high, so be ready, pack a lot of t-shirts. If you live in Ireland or the UK take a trip to Penneys (Primark) and stock up on cheap ones which you won't feel too bad about leaving behind as you move hotels. One thing's for sure you will sweat...a lot (see below).

We had a day in Hanoi before departing for Halong Bay, for those of you have not heard of this amazing area, its a UNESCO World Heritage site. The bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes. Ha Long Bay is a center of a larger zone which includes Bái Tử Long bay to the northeast, and Cát Bà islands to the southwest. A community of around 1,600 people live on Hạ Long Bay in four fishing villages: Cửa Vạn, Ba Hang, Cống Tàu and Vông Viêng in Hùng Thắng commune, Hạ Long city. They live on floating houses and are sustained through fishing and marine aquaculture

Welcoming committee on the Halong Ginger
We spent 24 hours on the Halong Ginger cruising around the bay stopping off at some of the main sites, this was an experience never to be forgotten. The service on board the Halong Ginger was exceptional, the food was delicious, its hard to express in words just how wonderful this part of the trip was. 

Our evening meal was a barbeque on the deck, obviously it goes with out saying that the food was simply delicious. However it was the setting that made this meal perhaps the most special of our honeymoon. It's hard to describe just how incredible it was to be sitting on deck, on a wonderful evening as dusk descended watching the islands go by, it really was the perfect romantic setting and one we'll both never forget.

 It's hard to describe just how special Halong Bay is, here are a few more photos which will give you an idea, to be honest the only way to really understand is to experience it for yourself:

From Halong Bay we travelled back to Hanoi to really get a flavour of this hectic, bustling city. Click on the underlined link to go straight to read more about our experiences in Vietnam.