Distance this section: 220km |Total distance: 2,800km
We arrived in Halong city after riding all afternoon from Ninh Binh. The sun had already set. We checked into the hotel and headed to a local market for a hot-pot dinner amidst locals. Tasty. It was also full moon adding a bit of extra ambience.
So far we hadn’t booked a boat trip hoping to cut a decent last-minute deal. Well, we didn’t and barely made it on time to our cruise that we arranged last minute through whatsapp. To locate the boat amidst thousands of others and with directions in broken english turned out to be a real challenge. But… We made it!
Fingers crossed no-one steals the motorbike that we left short notice at the staff parking spot of the official ferry terminal of the Tuan Chau marina 😱
Halong Bay Basics
Halong Bay is an area of extraordinary natural beauty, situated in Vietnam’s Quang Ninh Province, close to the Chinese border. Declared world heritage in 1994.
Comprised of a multitude of karst limestone islands and islets rising from the sea, in a variety of sizes and shapes and presenting picturesque, unspoiled nature.
Total area of around 1,553 sqkm & 1,960 islands and islets, mostly limestone.
The limestone in this bay has gone through 500 million years of formation in different conditions and environments.
Less than half of the islands have been named.
Titop island: Named after a Russian general that helped train the Vietnamese army and visited the island withHo Chi Minh. Super scenic, but completely overrun.
Cu Van floating village by kayak: Local fishermen life on boats in sadly dying communities. Tourism and still fishing keep them going. However, only existing habitants can stay in the floating villages. New ones aren’t allowed to protect the world heritage park. All very interesting, especially the traditional wedding song performance.
Surprising cave: No match for the caves you find in Phong Nha Ke Bank (Vietnam 🇻🇳 🏍: Phong Nha Ke Bang national park & Paradise cave) national park, but still quite huge!
Pearl farm: Pretty similar experience than we had in Phu Quoc (Vietnam 🇻🇳: Phu Quoc island)
Kayaking Luon Cave: Pretty scenic and good to do some activity for a change.
Fun time on the boat & Spanish practice
The time on the boat was never too much given the host of activities. In addition, there was the nightly welcome drinks, spring roll cooking class and of course lots of time eating.
Food was average, but that may have been down to me not liking seafood that much. On the other hand, we shared our table with two Spanish guys. They are crisscrossing Asia on their tour (eg Halong Bay and a night in Hanoi is their Vietnam experience) and were fun to hang out with.
Motorbike not stolen, but not working 😕
Back at the marina i checked the bike right away. It was still there, but for some reason the ignition didn’t work. I just couldn’t turn the key 🤷♂️. Damn!
In the marina area there are also no bike repair shops. So i pushed until i found a shop selling all sort of tools and hardware – presumably for ships. Using a screwdriver and some force helped to close the electronic cycle and start the engine… Just it kept switching off.
That way we made it out of the marina and to a shady bike shop. He replaced the ignition and off we went to Hanoi.