Halong Bay is a mystical, magical, extremely scenic place that’s world well-known. It was rated as one of many new 7 pure wonders of the world so it needs to be a tremendous place the place you uncover fixed wonders at each flip.
Or so it appeared.
Halong Bay is a visually gorgeous place and there’s no debate about it. 1000’s of towering limestone cliffs and delightful coves are what’s on the menu and there’s no scarcity of jaw dropping views. I went on a 3 day 2 evening Halong Bay cruise whereas on my multi week Vietnam journey. Nevertheless, every part else that goes together with the expertise makes the expertise lower than wonderful.
This weblog publish will go into element on why precisely I feel Halong Bay is overrated and whether or not it truly is price it to go to?
Halong Bay could be very lovely nevertheless
For starters, Ha Lengthy Bay is an extremely gorgeous location and undoubtedly one of many pure wonders of the world. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Website, recognized for its scenic magnificence and distinctive geology. The bay consists of hundreds of limestone karsts and islets, which rise sharply from the water and create a dramatic and awe-inspiring panorama.
The limestone karsts in Ha Lengthy Bay have been fashioned over thousands and thousands of years by a mix of geological processes, together with erosion and tectonic exercise. The result’s a spectacular maze of towering cliffs, caves, and arches, all surrounded by crystal-clear waters.
The karsts differ in measurement and form, with some rising to greater than 100 meters in peak. They’re coated in lush vegetation, together with tropical forests and mangrove swamps, and supply a house to all kinds of plant and animal species, lots of that are endemic to the area.
How Halong Bay cruising works
When you’re early in your Halong Bay planning, this part will go into element about every part it is advisable to know.
Reserving a Halong Bay Cruise
The one solution to see Halong Bay is by reserving a ship cruise that sails via the park. There are a whole lot of various boats that sail via Halong Bay and it may be a frightening activity to determine which boat to go together with.
The primary query it is advisable to reply is how lengthy you wish to cruise for? You may select something between a day journey from Hanoi to a number of nights on the boat. A few of the cruise boats are large enough simply to make a day journey whereas different boats are correct cruise boats that may match 100 individuals and are outfitted to sit down out at sea for weeks at a time.
After studying loads of weblog posts, I made a decision I wished the total expertise and to not rush it by reserving a 3 day 2 evening cruise all through Halong Bay. Once more, there are a number of boats that make this journey so that you simply must learn the evaluations and see what you want.
These multi-night cruises all comply with very related itineraries by visiting varied viewpoints, kayaking via the cliffs, visiting distant villages within the park, and cave excursions. Meals is served totally on the boat which is a buffet model providing of various native dishes. This complete journey form of jogged my memory of my Nile cruise in Egypt the place we additionally stopped alongside the way in which to go to totally different temples.
So in abstract, listed below are your choices for cruising Halong Bay:
Day journey: Pickup from Hanoi early within the morning and sail on a ship for almost all of the day earlier than returning to Hanoi. Brief and candy.2 days/1 evening: Major highlights of the bay will likely be met together with sleeping on a cruise boat.3 days/2 nights: That is the choice I went with because it allowed me to spend extra time within the park. On the itinerary is kayaking, visiting virgin caves, biking via distant villages, and time on a seashore.
Cruising Halong Bay with the MGloria boat by Dora Cruises
I ended up reserving 2 nights on the Mgloria boat. It’s one of many newer boats that belong the fleet of different Halong Bay cruises from Dora. The worth was affordable at round $250 per evening for two individuals and the images appeared very good. The rooms have been spacious and cozy providing views of the bay.
You can simply spend way more cash when you wished to as I noticed loads of unbelievable wanting boats just like the Elite Seas, Scarlet Pearl, or Steller of the Seas. Moreover, you may spend a lot much less to remain on older and extra economical boats.
Why I disliked Halong Bay
So with out additional ado, it’s time to speak about why I feel Halong Bay is a bit overrated and never the place I believed it might be. These are totally my opinion and based mostly on my expertise. I do know there are lots of individuals on the market that completely love Halong Bay and treasure their expertise. It simply was not mine.
Trash is all over the place in Halong Bay
Halong Bay, one in all Vietnam’s hottest vacationer locations, has a major trash drawback that has been build up for a few years. The issue has been exacerbated by the rising variety of guests to the world, which has resulted in an accumulation of plastic waste and different particles within the water and on the seashores.
One of many main causes of the trash drawback is the shortage of correct waste administration programs within the area. Many native communities and companies should not have entry to sufficient waste assortment and disposal providers, which has led to the improper disposal of trash within the water and on the land. Moreover, the massive variety of vacationers who go to Halong Bay every year generates a major quantity of waste that isn’t all the time correctly managed.
The Vietnamese authorities has taken some steps to deal with the problem, together with implementing a ban on single-use plastics within the area. Nevertheless, enforcement of those rules will be difficult, and extra must be completed to stop plastic waste from coming into the waterways.
A number of organizations and companies have additionally taken motion to deal with the trash drawback in Halong Bay. For instance, some cruise operators have carried out recycling applications and arranged seashore clean-up occasions. Moreover, native NGOs have been working to lift consciousness in regards to the significance of correct waste administration and the affect of trash on the atmosphere.
Whereas efforts are being made to deal with the trash drawback in Halong Bay, it stays a major problem. Vacationers can assist by being accountable vacationers and following sustainable journey practices, akin to bringing reusable water bottles and baggage, avoiding single-use plastics, and correctly disposing of trash.
Every little thing is a manufacturing and too commercialized
Every little thing in Halong Bay simply felt like a little bit of a manufacturing, and never a great one. Every little thing right here is catered to vacationers and the schedule simply feels so compelled and uninspired. For instance, they mentioned we might go to distant villages on one of many islands. We did go to the village, and it was distant, but it surely was removed from something particular. It was simply purely a vacationer village with hardly something to see.
As well as, the “caves” we explored have been an meeting line of row boats servicing each different cruise boat within the park. The mentioned cave was hardly even a cave, however extra only a few items of rock. Vietnam has insane caves so to have this as your spotlight is considerably pathetic.
I perceive that many vacationers most likely simply wish to loosen up and never do a lot however total, it wasn’t my favourite a part of the journey.
Overcrowding is an issue in Halong Bay
Halong Bay might be Vietnam’s greatest draw and most visited vacationer website. It spans 1500 sq. kilometers so that you’d assume there can be loads of area to enterprise and roam via the mountains of the bay. Sadly, that is simply not true.
There are 800 boats that commonly cruise via Halong Bay together with 600 in a single day cruise ships (large boats) and 200 day boats. 2019 noticed nearly 4m vacationers visiting the bay together with a big contingent of home vacationers. The issue is that the majority of those boats go away from the identical port and comply with the identical path via the park. This causes boats to be crammed subsequent to one another lowering the pure spectacle earlier than you.
When my boat was docked, there can be at the very least 30 different boats inside view. It merely baffled me that inside such an enormous park, they couldn’t simply unfold out a bit extra?
The way to have a greater expertise at Halong Bay
Don’t fear, Halong Bay continues to be very a lot price visiting however listed below are the issues I’d take into accounts (that I want I knew earlier than visiting) in your journey.
Go on a day journey as an alternative of in a single day journeys
Finally, I feel the three day 2 evening cruise I did was too lengthy. I believed I used to be getting one thing apart from what I acquired and due to this fact, I feel lowering the period of time you spend in Halong Bay is the professional transfer.
If I might do it over once more, I’d elect for the day journey from Hanoi and focus my time on the far north of Vietnam as an alternative. A full day provides you loads of time to take footage and see the landscapes of Halong Bay. To be sincere, the landscapes from space to space are roughly the identical so you aren’t going to overlook out from a multi day cruise.
When you actually wish to keep on a ship, I’d then simply elect for a 2 day 1 evening cruise. The second evening is totally pointless in my view.
Go to Bai Tu Lengthy Bay as an alternative
Halong Bay is a big nationwide park and it’s solely becoming that there are lots of areas to discover with loads of options to the everyday itinerary. Bai Tu Lengthy Bay is a type of options.
Bai Tu Lengthy Bay is positioned on the far east facet of Halong Bay and is nearest to the South China Sea. This space sees far fewer boats and really gives extra gorgeous surroundings in my view. I really examine this space as an alternative choice to Halong Bay however ultimatey didn’t e-book it. It was solely after speaking to different associates that elected for a cruise in Bai Tu Lengthy Bay that I noticed the extra lovely and picturesque pictures!
Bai Tu Lengthy bay is mostly a bit cheaper than Halong Bay given how a lot much less touristy it’s. Cruises will nonetheless operate in the identical approach in each locations however you’ll be able to count on much less boats, cleaner waters, and extra picturesque surroundings!
Go to on the proper time of 12 months
Halong Bay is a type of locations the place climate makes an enormous distinction. Relying on the time of 12 months, you would possibly get an unbelievable expertise or a lackluster one relying on the climate.
The most effective occasions of 12 months to go to Halong Bay in my view are Could-June, and September to November. These are usually the dry seasons with extra sunshine and fewer chance of storms. December to Feb is stormy season in addition to June to September. March-Could is an efficient time of 12 months for temperature however is usually overshadowed by air air pollution coming from Laos and Cambodia as they observe slash and burn.
I visited throughout April and whereas the climate was good on paper, I couldn’t see a lot in any respect due to the smoke.
Halong Bay continues to be an exquisite place to go to
With that mentioned, I nonetheless assume it’s price a go to to Halong Bay when you’re already in Vietnam. It’s merely not the wonderful place I believed it might be due to these factors I’ve made. That is additionally no fault of the cruise boat itself. Whereas I do know some others which have had horrible experiences with their Halong Bay cruise, the employees on my boat have been very attentive and pleasant. Merely, they couldn’t save a visit that simply wasn’t that spectacular.
Halong Bay is shortly turning right into a Koh Phi Phi Leh in Thailand or a Boracay in Philippines. COVID-19 was really useful for the world because it allowed the character to heal. Nonetheless, I extremely doubt Vietnam will restrict the vacationers any time quickly as it is a large a part of the native economic system.