Amazing cave in Halong, masterpiece of Creator

When you set your foot in Vietnam land and wonder where should you visit. Halong Bay is no doubt one of the most beautiful places on earth. The UNESCO World Heritage Site has won just about every award available to it. Thousands flock here every year to sail around the hundreds of limestone islands, take in the magnificent views and indulge in a bit of luxury on board the many tour boats that sail through the bay. There is much to see and do in Halong Bay many come for total relaxation on board their chosen cruise boat. Others, come in search of adventure and it comes in many guises. Kayaking, canoeing, snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, fishing, rock climbing, cycling and trekking are all hugely popular here.

Amazing cave

Amazing cave

One of the most popular excursions is to visit the Amazing Cave, which is to be found on Bo Hon Island. It was first discovered by the French in 1901. It is the most popular cave in the whole of northern Vietnam. The name means the Amazing Cave and it certainly lives up to its name. It is an incredible place to visit. It is reached by climbing steps up the side of a hill on the island. There are lovely trees offering shade all the way up to the entrance. The view from the entrance across the bay, is worth the climb on its own.

Thousands of years of development have seen magnificent stalagmite and stalactite formations created. The cave is illuminated to create a wonderful visual effect. The main chamber here is absolutely huge, the ceiling towering above visitors who stand in awe some 100 feet below its highest point. This chamber is called the Serene Castle. Some of the rock formations resemble troops of soldiers and another looks like a man drawing a sword. Though many are more than quick to liken this to a phallic shape.

There is a five hundred yard long paved passageway that guides tourists along between to of the chambers. These incredible formations were created between the years of 68,000-9,000 BC. Water seeped through cracks in the rock and eroded the limestone. The holes created, allowed more water in, the erosion increased and the caves grew larger. As some of the calcium rich water seeped down to the cave ceiling, it slowly dripped and deposited sediment which created stalactites, stalagmites and other formations in the caves. Then, from 9,000-1,000 BC, the sea advanced and its effects can be seen on the ceiling of the caves in interesting ‘wave’ effects.

These trips out to the cave are exceptional. They have become extremely popular over the years and it is not difficult to understand why. Fascinating and exciting in equal measure, they show the true wonders that nature can create. Anyone taking a cruise in the wonderful Halong tours, should include the Amazing Cave on their itinerary, it is excellent.

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Customize your trip to Halong bay

Halong bay tour for couples and families Top in the list of Vietnam travel attractions, Halong Bay is a destination you should definitely visit in your trip to Vietnam. As the creator has made it magnificent masterpiece. Usually you have to spend a significant budget for a trip to Halong bay, however with my experience you can arrange a private Halong bay cruise with a moderate cost.

Halong bay junk cruise

Halong bay junk cruise

Halong bay is about 160 km from Hanoi and you can save the cost by catching a public bus which departs at Luong Yen or My Dinh stations in Hanoi, it takes 4 hours to arrive in Halong city. You can have a bit of comfort and convenience by renting a private car at the cost 75 usd one way. If you are going to do a private tour with family we recommend that you arrange a private car as you will be picked up at hotel at the start of your trip.

Tours in Halong: Arriving in Halong city around noon you can have lunch at one of the restaurants near the wharf, price is reasonable and you can order from the menu. In the early afternoon walk to the tourist port and rent a boat to visit the bay, note that you have to pay entrance fees separately, cost for a private charter boat is 80 – 120 usd for a 4 or 6 hour cruise, in summertime May to August price is probably higher.

There are 2 types of tickets to visit Halong Bay are day trip tickets for a cruise in 4 hours and 6 hours. The 4-hour ticket allows you to visit Heavenly cave, Dau Go grotto, Fighting cocks islet, and cruise around near the shore. For 6-hour ticket you can visit further places such as Amazing Cave, Titop island…

For those who take 2 day tour staying on board the cruise you will have more activities. There are many tour company offering private charter cruise with full service such as Paloma cruise, Helios cruise, Victory Star cruise. Spending the night on the bay is really a nice experience although price is much higher than the hotel stay.

Cruise itinerary Typical itinerary for the 2 day private Halong cruise is after arrving at the port you will check in the cruise, lunch will be served on board as the ship is cruising. About 3pm passengers will visit Amazing cave, spending about 1 hour in the cave and then continue the cruise to Titop island beach for swimming, towards the end of the day you will be taken to a deserted place for kayaking. The second day will start with a taichi excercise on the sundeck, after breakfast the ship will sail to Bai Tu Long bay that is a more wild and untouched area where you can visit Luon cave by rowing boat, stop and visit a floating village and other beautiful sites such as Stone dog islet, Swan islet…you will return to the port in another way, the last meal will be served on the way back. About 11.30 you will arrive at the dock. For the 3 day trip passengers will spend the whole 2nd day kayaking, rock climbing or other activities, some cruises will combine Cat Ba island in the package.

Charter rates for private cruise: – Standard cruise, 2 floors, capacity 48 people: 15 usd/hour – Superior cruise, 2 foors: 25 usd/hour – Deluxe cruise, 2 floors with air-conditioner: 36 usd/hour

Entrance fees to tourists sites in Halong bay From 2014 entrance fees to visit Halong bay have increased, In general sightseeing tickets to Halong Bay in the day time from 6.30 am to 6.30 pm is 6 usd, not including entrance fees to islands, caves… Entrance fee to one of the attractions that was invested by the state: Soi Sim island, Ti-top beach, Cua Van floating village…ranges from 1.5 to 2.5 usd/person. Fares fore passengers staying one night and visit Halong Bay is 16 usd, two nights is 23 usd. Children from 7 to 15 years old, elderly people aged 70 or older, poor people, people with disabilities will pay decreased 50%, children under 7 years old will be exempted from entrance fees.

source: http://cruise-halong-bay.com/blog/how-to-arrange-a-private-halong-cruise.asp

Booking a Halong bay cruise

Halong bay is the top destination in vietnam and Halong cruises is a must for all visitors. In this article I would like to share some experience to arrange a trip to Halong bay by yourself.

Halong cruise

Halong cruise

As there are a lot of cruises in Halong bay serving all types of tourists, each cruiser has it’s good points and depending on your budget travelers can choose the most suitable for your trip.

Most cruises in Halong tour have their own website and you can make a booking online through the web. There are some things you need to be aware:

Online booking – Booking the trip directly with the cruiser via official website is more expensive than you book through an online travel agent, this is a normal practice in Vietnam tourism industry as the cruise companies usually offer a better price for travel agents. However not all travel agents are reliable and passengers may find themselves end up on another cruiser and not the one they have been confirmed. My advise is book directly with the cruiser, price is higher however your trip is secured and you will get what you paid for.

Transport to and from Halong bay: Most cruises offer bus service roundtrip as part of the package, passengers will be picked up from different hotels in Hanoi centre, some high class cruises charge an additional cost for the transfers, travelers can also arrange their transport by themselves, it takes about 4 hours drive each way with 30 minutes stop at a shopping centre, if you are on a family trip with children we recommend that you rent a private car, about 150 usd for a 2 day trip and thus you can start at your convenience.

Cruising itinerary: Each cruise company built their own itinerary however the programs are pretty similar, the cruise will cover the best part of Halong bay such as Fighting cock islet, Heavenly cave or Amazing cave, a short visit to a fishing village and then to Titop island beach for swimming. If you take a 3 day tour the whole second day will be kayaking or other activities, travelers will be sent to a smaller boat going further out to different part of Halong bay for kayaking, swimming or relax at an isolated island beach and return to mother cruiser at the end of the day. Some companies extend the itinerary to Lan Ha bay or Cat Ba island, staying overnight at hotel in Cat Ba island and go trekking the next day in Cat Ba national park. Visitors can also choose to stay at a beach resort bungalow such as Monkey island resort, Cat Ong resort or Suoi Goi eco lodge resort. As Halong bay has become touristy in recent years more cruisers have change their itinerary to Bai Tu Long bay which is more natural and still unspoilt by tourism.

Food and drinks: Halong is a sea bay and no wonder food served on cruise ship is mostly seafood with fish, crabs or sentinel, prawn, squid…The food on board is cooked in Vietnamese style, you can also request other things like beef, chicken or pork when you make a booking, vegetarian food is also available. For cheap and midrange cruises, food is served for the whole group on a big table, food is nice but maybe not enough for all. Some cruisers like Indochina arrange dinners in the cave with candle light that is a very nice experience, other boats organize BBQ lunch at a beach. Drinks on board are not included and it is pretty expensive compared to average price on shore. Wines and fizzy drinks are available at bar on the cruiser and travelers are recommended to check price before you order.

source: http://cruise-halong-bay.com/blog/how-to-book-a-halong-bay-cruise.asp

Halong tourist wharf moved to Tuan Chau island

Cruises in Halong bay

Cruises in Halong bay

Bai Tu Long tours Quang Ninh Province People’s Committee leaders listened to T&H Halong Corporation (member of Tuan Chau Group) presented ideas about planning of Bai Chay beach, Halong city and plans to move the cruise ships from Bai Chay tourist wharf to Tuan Chau island

Representatives of Vietnam Urban Planning presented the a plan of combination of Bai Chay beach complex based on design ideas: Build the new motorway of Bai Chay area in order to maximize economic benefits of the Halong bay world heritage; Restore the Bai Chau Ferry to connect traffict between Bai Chay and Hon Gai area so as to create urban memories of Halong Bay cruises heritage. Provide other modes of transportation such as electric cars, bicycles, horse carriages to enrich the transport system, and meet requirements of tourists; Organize underground parking areas in combination with services to save buiding areas and reduce the density of construction; Build a central tourist culture square and create a busy space with characters of the World wonder. Construction to renovate the beach to meet requirements of the sand and water quality; Piping systems, wastewater collection sewers are designed along the route and moved toward the Cua Luc bay or Cai Dam area.

Regarding plans to move the tourist cruise ships from Bai Chay wharf to Tuan Chau island wharf. Besides port 1 has been in use since 2009, currently Tuan Chau Group is building a 2 ports for junk cruisers with a capacity of up to 2000 ships. This is a modern cruise port, world class with a full system of items and services, serving rescue tourists. Expected to finish in December and put into use.

Tuan Chau Island recommended Quang Ninh province to consider and approve the plan to transfer all the cruise ships operating at Bai Chay tourist area to on Tuan Chau after the port is put into operation.

source: http://travelbaitulong.com/blog/halong-tourist-wharf-moved-to-tuan-chau-island.asp

Halong Bay Travel chapter 5

Halong Bay Travel

Halong Bay Travel

It’s been a long way since Halong Bay Vietnam was opened to tourists in mid 1990s, before this time Halong Bay, known by local people as Bai Chay or Burning town, had few tourists, as the bay is located in the Gulf of Tonkin, during the 80s of the last century only foreigners form former Eastern Europeans could visit Halong Bay due to the sensitive relations between Vietnam and China

Halong Bay was officially opened for tourism in 1992, since then there have been a big development of Halong Bay travel, as there are more and more visitors go on Halong Bay tours on their vacations to Vietnam, smaller boats were no longer used by travel companies, the cruisers built in recent years can accommodate up to 50 travellers at one time, some boats offering Halong Bay cruises have facilities of a luxury 5 star hotel

It costs about more or less than 100 usd/person for a 2 day cruise in Halong Bay, including all meals on board, transfers round trip from and to Hanoi, entrance fees and guide, travellers going 2 day tours will visit the most worth seeing part of the bay such as Amazing cave, Stone dog islet, fighting cocks.

Halong Bay tours start from Hanoi, after about 4 hours road travel visitors will arrive in Halong city, after check in the cruiser visitors will visit Thien Cung and Dau Go grottoes, enjoying fresh seafood lunch served on board, the boat will keep cruising taking tourists to beautiful areas such as a fishing village where local fishermen raise fish in big cages under their houses and sell to tourists, after a few minutes at the fishing village the cruise will keep sailing towads Titov island through Incense burner islet. Titov beach is an ideal location for travellers love Halong bay kayaking, there are hidden lagoons under mountain for kayak rowers to explore. Those active travellers who love kayaking in Halong Bay usually take 3 day tour and they will have a full 2nd day for kayaking, swimming and more relaxation on the bay. Towards the end of the bay all boats will go to one place designated by the authorities, for the night actitities travellers can join singing karaoke, and a fishing trip at night is something not to be missed

Early in the morning of day 2 passengers will take a Tai Chi excercise on the sun deck, it’s quite a sight beholding the Sunrise from the sea while doing the Tai Chi. After some coffee passengers will have a light breakfast before continuing to Luon cave, in the morning when the tide is low visitors use small boats to get through a tunnel inside the lake inside, after that the cruiser will sail towards Bai Tu Long bay in the other side of the bay, after lunch on board the boat will go back to wharf at the end of the cruise.It’s been a long way since Halong Bay Vietnam was opened to tourists in mid 1990s, before this time Halong Bay, known by local people as Bai Chay or Burning town, had few tourists, as the bay is located in the Gulf of Tonkin, during the 80s of the last century only foreigners form former Eastern Europeans could visit Halong Bay due to the sensitive relations between Vietnam and China

Halong Bay was officially opened for tourism in 1992, since then there have been a big development of Halong Bay travel, as there are more and more visitors go on Halong Bay tours on their vacations to Vietnam, smaller boats were no longer used by travel companies, the cruisers built in recent years can accommodate up to 50 travellers at one time, some boats offering Halong Bay cruises have facilities of a luxury 5 star hotel.
It costs about more or less than 100 usd/person for a 2 day cruise in Halong Bay, including all meals on board, transfers round trip from and to Hanoi, entrance fees and guide, travellers going 2 day tours will visit the most worth seeing part of the bay such as Amazing cave, Stone dog islet, fighting cocks.

Halong Bay tours start from Hanoi, after about 4 hours road travel visitors will arrive in Halong city, after check in the cruiser visitors will visit Thien Cung and Dau Go grottoes, enjoying fresh seafood lunch served on board, the boat will keep cruising taking tourists to beautiful areas such as a fishing village where local fishermen raise fish in big cages under their houses and sell to tourists, after a few minutes at the fishing village the cruise will keep sailing towads Titov island through Incense burner islet. Titov beach is an ideal location for travellers love Halong bay kayaking, there are hidden lagoons under mountain for kayak rowers to explore. Those active travellers who love kayaking in Halong Bay usually take 3 day tour and they will have a full 2nd day for kayaking, swimming and more relaxation on the bay. Towards the end of the bay all boats will go to one place designated by the authorities, for the night actitities travellers can join singing karaoke, and a fishing trip at night is something not to be missed

Early in the morning of day 2 passengers will take a Tai Chi excercise on the sun deck, it’s quite a sight beholding the Sunrise from the sea while doing the Tai Chi. After some coffee passengers will have a light breakfast before continuing to Luon cave, in the morning when the tide is low visitors use small boats to get through a tunnel inside the lake inside, after that the cruiser will sail towards Bai Tu Long bay in the other side of the bay, after lunch on board the boat will go back to wharf at the end of the cruise.

source: http://www.travelhalongtours.com/travelnews/Halong_Bay_Vietnam-part-5.htm

Best budget cruises in Halong bay

Many travel companies in Vietnam offer Halong bay tours from Hanoi, there are hundreds of cruisers in Halong bay ranging from cheap to luxury, visitors can take 2 or 3 day tours, the itineraries of all cruises are pretty similar, the trip will take you to the area of Halong or Bai Tu Long bay, visiting a mountain cave and a floating village, spend some time swimming or kayaking, watching sunset and stay the night on board…Within the frame of this entry I would like to give a list of 6 best budget cruises in Halong bay that I have been on, the list may be arguable as it is my own opinion, most of these boats offer prices under 100 usd/person for 2 day cruise by the time I made the survey however please double check again with the cruise as prices could have changed in the meantime.

1 – Dugong Sail cruise, good value for money

Halong bay junk cruise

Halong bay junk cruise

A mid range cruise with basic facilities such as air condition, en suite bathrooms, Dugong is my first choice for a trip to Halong bay with tight budget, although the boat was several years old and a bit run down the cabins are nicely designed and furnitured for an overnight stay, this cruise has a family cabin at the back of the boat with 2 large windows and an open balcony where you can relax over a drink and watch the sunset. Food on board is pretty good with Vietnamese seafood buffet, staff are very friendly and helpful despite their English is hard to understand.

2 – Poseidon cruise, clean and cozy
Poseidon is a small cruiser with only 8 passenger rooms however the boat has a unique design of ancient Greek warships, the cabins are not very big however comfortable and clean, each cabin has a window facing the ocean, please choose a room on upper deck for a nice view of the bay from your window. The boat was built only a few years ago and is very well maintained and facilities look quite new. Service is very good with friendly crew and food is a mix of Vietnamese – western. Good feedbacks for the guides.

3 – Albatross cruise, good feedback for the crew
A good choice for backpackers to enjoy and trip to Halong bay at low cost. The vessel is a bit worn out, the outside appearance is not very attractive but but cabins are clean and well attended. For the price you pay this boat offer a good value. The captain and crew is very friendly, food is plenty however not really tasty and you share with other group members, there is not much to do at night on board except the karaoke. If you are traveling Halong bay on a tight budget I would recommend it.

4 – Cristina cruise
From outside, Cristina cruise looks weathered and a bit old however once on board you will find it pleasantly different. There rooms are large and in very good condition, all cabins are equiped with air conditioner and heater, upper deck had a pleasant sun bathing area, what I don’t like on this boat and most other cruisers is price of drinks are just double of on shore price. Make sure to bring water! The itinerary is quite rigid and specific, but it seems like it has to be so that everything can be fit into the program, vegetarian food is available and a version of all meat dishes will be created for you

5 – Party cruise, a quiet party
The vessel is quite nice with pretty rooms however the bathroom is covered with only a curtain without door, pay a little more for a room on second floor if you can so that you will be far from the noisy generator. The food is served in variety however little in quantities and you may find it not very pleasant so share the small dishesh with the others. What I don’t like is the activities on boat at night, almost nothing and boring, Maybe for families with babies is okay but for young and mid-age people..boring! A good idea could be doing cruises targeted only in a type of people: only families only singles. One of the highlights of party cruise was the excellent service of the local guide on boat who provides concise information on culture, history and the Halong Bay experience

6 – Black Pearl junk cruise, you get what you pay for
One of the cheapest cruises in Halong bay, choose Black Pearl if you want to keep your budget to a miminum. The boat itself is ok and my advice is to stay away from the room close to the engine as it is very noisy and you will be awaken up at 5 o’clock in the morning. Food on board is alright but nothing special and a lot of fried stuff, dessert is humble, the crew is very friendly and work hard to get the best to satisfy customer for the food. Dont expect the too much from it and you will be fine.

Visit Halong bay

Halong bay

Halong bay

Halong Bay is said to be one of the world’s natural wonders- a Bay with more than 3000 islands, rising from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, which time wind and waves have sculpted into fantastic shapes. Legend claims the islands of Halong bay were created by a great dragon whose tail gouged out valleys and crevices before finally plunging into the sea and the area filling with water. Legend also states that the dragons child plunged into the sea close by in an area known as Bai Tu Long Bay.

Halong bay was designated a world heritage site in 1994 and is quite spectacular. A boat cruise is the best way to explore the area and so at 8am the coach collected us from our hotel for the 4 hour journey to the Harbour to reach our boat. Our tour guide was called Tho although we called her Toe and was this petite little Vietnamese lady with a cracking sense of humor. Once we arrived at the Harbour we boarded a ‘taxiboat’ which took us the 600m to meet our cruise boat ‘Cristina’ .

We opted for a 4 day 3 night cruise option which included; one night sleeping on Cristina and then 2 nights sleeping in a bungalow on Cat ba Island. All meals were included in the price but drinks were extra. The food was on the whole very good and plentiful and we had specifically stated that I don’t eat meat, seafood or fish and Ollie doesn’t eat seafood or fish. On Cristina this was not problem and alternatives were provided but on Catba Island it became comical about how many times we had to say no fish or seafood and the reply was always “but squid is OK?” “but shrimp is good?” No funnily enough this counts as seafood in England! A vegetarian option was provided which was usually an omlette or tofu, unfortunately neither of which Ollie likes. The food was generally a mountain of steamed rice with an array of accompaniments including; peanuts, sauted vegetables, egg of some description, spring rolls, stir-fried meat, salad and chips which had been covered in butter and sugar! Who knew you could make chips even more unhealthy?!

So after lunch on our first day we were taken by small boat to Hang Dau Go cave which contained many stalagmites and stalactites for which our guide had a fantastic imagination and kept pointing out shapes in the rocks, such as an elephant or a frog some of which I could see and some I thought she had lost the plot . My favourite were two rock formations at the exit of the cave which really did look like 2 legs hanging down from the exit. The cave was beautiful but did not compare to the caves we saw in Phong Nga.