Sunday, May 15, 2011

Montage Monday: Halong Bay, Vietnam

A photo montage highlighting my favorite memories from past travels!

I was really shocked to discover that I hadn't posted anything from my Halong Bay junk trip on the blog so I decided to feature some of my favorite photos from my two days cruising among the beautiful bay for your viewing pleasure this Montage Monday. Hope you enjoy!

My junk, my junk, my Halong Bay junk
Our arrival into Halong Bay was complete and utter chaos. There were so many tourists shuffling about and tour guides leading large groups this way and that. The Bay was chocked with little smoke-puttering boats waiting to chauffeur passengers further out onto their reserved junks. A thick haze of smog filled the air and I silently prayed that the next two days wasn't going to be as hectic as this first impression. Luckily, as soon as Matt and I boarded our junk along with a handful of other travelers, we sailed out into calmer and clearer seas.

All smiles as we set off into Halong Bay
We were pretty lucky with the weather during our two days of sailing in Halong Bay. The sky was slightly overcast so it wasn't too hot to sit out on the top deck of the boat, but it never grew too gray or rained on us. Hooray!

Secluded area of Halong Bay

It was really nice just cruising along Halong Bay, enjoying the cool breeze and the stunning scenery all around us! It was just the peaceful setting we needed after a few hectic days in Hanoi.

Lots of groups stopping for a cave tour
One of my least favorite aspects of traveling with a tour group is the generic, predetermined itinerary that they have for you... and everybody else! One of the major "highlights" of the two days aboard the junk was exploring a cave "hidden" deep in Halong Bay. I can't really say that it was a well hidden cave since just about every junk seemed to have made a stop there.

One of our last group activities on board the junk was a kayak excursion out in Halong Bay. Matt and I were really looking forward to this but we were disappointed to find out that "exploring the hidden cave" had taken up most of the time we had in the afternoon and our allotted time for kayaking was reduced to 30 minutes. We were further disappointed to find trash in the form of beer bottles, plastic bags and candy wrappers floating around. Matt and I spent most of our 30 minutes in the kayak collecting debris from the water. It was a shame to see such a beautiful setting carelessly littered. 

Because ships are pretty cool things in and of themselves!
Halong Bay is undoubtedly one of the more breath-taking settings I have found myself lucky to encounter. Cruising aboard a junk was also another great experience and although I usually don't recommend joining group tours that may limit you in terms of time and activities, I honestly don't know how one could work around an arranged tour of Halong Bay. Besides, most people come to see the natural wonder that is Halong Bay and you still get that and more with a organized tour. My only advice would is to pick up whatever trash you may encounter on the water so that future visitors can enjoy the beauty of Halong Bay too.

What's YOUR take on Halong Bay? Have YOU been? Is it a top travel destination?

© Connie Hum 2011


  1. I was in Hanoi three years ago as a journalism student on a reporting trip. Our translator took us to Halong Bay for a quick overnight to get b-roll. I didn't get to go out on the water at all, which I was sorry about. What you mention here seemed to me to be a problem in that region in general -- lots of trash on roads and in waterways, the extreme motorbike/truck pollution. The story i was reporting was about the increase in factories/industry, and I had a hard time getting anyone to talk to me about environmental regulation (of course.)

    I loved visiting Vietnam and hope to go back sooner than later so I can see more of the country. The people, almost without exception, were gracious and funny and very determined and hardworking. Even with the down sides, it's still the most compelling place I've ever been.

  2. @Laurie Sounds like that was a great trip! After a year of traveling all over Asia, including India, I'm well aware of the littering problem that exists in this part of the world. Luckily, I've started seeing some signs of governments taking notice and trying to bring about change towards a more eco-conscious world, though it's going to take some time and habits are hard to change.

    Vietnam was also one of my favorite Southeast Asian countries. My boyfriend and I talk often about going back. Hopefully we'll be able to before we leave Asia all together!

  3. Vietnam is certainly a firm favourite of mine. Loved every minute.

    You should have seen the canoes after the 30 minutes. It was literally piled with rubbish (trash)! I'm not sure if the people we gave it to on dry land actually disposed of it properly or if it found its way back into the water...

    It was pretty sad to see so much crap floating around, not to mention the huge oil patches. I wonder how long Halong Bay will remain a natural wonder. I think there's a niche here for a volunteer group. Make it happen people!

  4. i see in the second picture you're in the dress tailored in Hoi An. it looks lovely. Halong bay is also my favorite destination. overnight on Halong bay junk is an unique experience. I love it. kayaking, fishing, seeing the grottoes, the floating villages, discovering the caves, enjoying Vietnamese coffee and singing karaoke, etc. All of them are wonderful. I love Halong bay.

  5. Until I can get there in person, your blog and photos are my best connection Connie. Thanks!

  6. @Matt I'd like to think that all the trash we collected went to the right place in the end. And YES, if there's a volunteer group cleaning up Halong Bay, I'd definitely be interested in getting involved. Would be another great excuse to return to Vietnam, eh honey? =)

    @anhhh Halong Bay does have a lot of wonderful things for visitors to see and do. I'd love to go back to see and do more myself! You're welcome but thank YOU for the compliment! One of my favorite things about having my blog is sharing with people all the amazing things I encounter so you saying that really makes me smile! =)

  7. Vietnam is one of my favorite countries I've visited! i went there back in 2004! I liked Halong Bay but I actually thought I would love it more. Just got a bit boring for me. The cave we visited had fake lighting. It just looked bizarre. I did LOVE Hanoi and HCMC though!

  8. This place is definitely on my bucket list. Thanks for taking me there through the net.
    Safe travels,

  9. Beautiful photos of Halong Bay! And do they really call those boats 'junks'? That's funny ;D


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