You have to try visiting Ha long Bay in Vietnam. Honestly, it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. It’s filled with tourists and boats and cruises (over 200 in such a small space!) but even so it’s worth it. It’s like the real life version of the floating islands in Avatar.
I’ve visited Ha Long Bay three times now. The first time was with my family and I don’t really remember it much other than getting sea sick, but thinking “this is possibly the most beautiful place I have ever been sick in”. The second time was by accident when I was convinced to get on a minibus, not realising I wouldn’t be able to get off for another 4 hours. The third time was to go on a cruise tour done by the hotel I was staying at.
Of all the trips, the second was probably the most fun. My cousin An had just gotten married and I was at her wedding. She, her groom and some other people all got on a minibus to go back to the groom’s house which is traditional and asked if I wanted to come along. I hadn’t realised at that point that the groom’s family was so far away, and I thought we would still be in the same city. I ended up spending 3 days with them as they showed me around, and we went on a boat and visited the caves.
The cruise tour thing wasn’t what I expected. The boat was big and pretty and whilst there were a lot of activities such as kayaking and cooking demonstrations, I found everything catered too much to tourists. The food didn’t feel like genuine vietnamese food, and having such rigid time tables isn’t really my style. I think for tourists it’s a good way to make the most of a short trip as they really pack a lot in. You also get a tour guide who’s super knowledgable.
Ha Long Bay is best visited in the warmer months, when the sky is clear and you can swim happily in the sea. There are a lot of people who now opt for weddings on boats in Ha Long Bay, and they have their ceremony at sunset. It’s super romantic. In the winter months there is a lot of mist and fog, and the water is too cold for swimming.
What I really love about Ha long Bay is the colour of the water. In some places it’s really blue, and other’s very green. Then there are areas all around in colours in between the two. I have never seen colour like that in England. The mountains are full of greenery and I thought that would mean a lot of wildlife, but it’s so peaceful. When we switched off the boat and just cruised, it was one of the most peaceful moments of my life.