A-Z April Challenge – H is for Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Ha Long Bay

UNESCO Heritage listed Ha Long Bay is on every Vietnam visitor’s must see list nowadays and the fact that it is so close to Ha Noi makes it an easy excursion.

When Hamish & I went in 1998, we decided to spend a night at Cat Ba Island to ensure we made the most of what the bay had to offer.

After a bumpy three-hour drive from the capital, we joined our sailing vessel for our steady but serene float along the turquoise waters.

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Ha Long Bay

The area is a place of outstanding natural beauty. Huge flora covered rocks burst from the sea like tortoise shells, scattered liberally throughout the bay. Occasionally junks with their orange paper-like sails, glided by to make our pictures that bit more impressive.

Junk, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Junk, Ha Long Bay

Picture above from Trailfinders – see link for their Ha Long Bay holidays.

The wind-fuelled journey was incredibly peaceful and it was one of those periods of complete tranquility and love for the world we live in, so incredible at times in an entirely positive way.

Part way we stopped off to visit a jagged cave and mountain lake. Unfortunately the crew took the opportunity to steal some cash, but to their credit they only took a few notes rather than the lot.

I didn’t notice the loss until two days later and to be honest it would not have detracted from the trip in the least.

Ha Long Bay Cave, Vietnam
Ha Long Bay Cave
Mountain Lake, Ha Long Bay
Mountain Lake, Ha Long Bay

We spent the night on Cat Ba Island in a cheap hotel best remembered for the large cockroaches that frequented the bathrooms. The hotel flip-flops came in very useful!

Next morning we spent some time swimming and laying in the beach in the December sunshine – we would be back in the cold UK soon enough,

The trip back was marginally less spectacular as our marginal propensity for stunning scenery waned a little. We returned to Ha Noi to find that Ho Chi Minh was not in his mausoleum – he had paid a trip to Moscow for a facial!

Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, Hanoi


  1. The reverence in vitiating HCM is amazing when he’s not in Moscow at the beauty salon. Ha Long Bay was crazy busy when we visited which detracted somewhat from the impression.

    1. That’s always the challenge, to get somewhere before the secret is out the bag.. travelling anywhere would be great right now.

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