In Hong Kong we are lucky enough to get both Good Friday and Easter Monday off from work which means its a great opportunity to take a long weekend somewhere.
For awhile Halong Bay had been on our lost so that was our destination for the weekend. It got even better when we were able to time it with a visit from our friends Tyler and Katie from the U.S. that were on an Asian tour.
To get to Halong Bay you have to fly into Hanoi, Vietnam then drive about 3 hours to the port. Knowing this we decided to fly into Hanoi and stay there for one night before getting up early to go to the Bay. Once we settled into our hotel we simply went out to explore the town.
To get our bearings we walked around the lake in the middle of the town and past some of the street vendors and performers we found our way to Hanoi’s pub street. This is essentially a 2×3 block of streets with lines restaurants and bars, many of which have little plastic chairs and table right outside them. This was a great place to sit down and cool off a bit with a local beer and do some great people watching. After a bit of this we found a fun little spot with a balcony to get some tea and other drinks that allowed us to overlook and take in the hustle and bustle of the streets below. Knowing we had a long day ahead of us, we decided to call it night and take note of some other places we wanted to check out when we came back to Hanoi after the Bay.
Knowing that the trip to Halong Bay was 3 hours we opted to pay for our private transportation instead of taking the crowded bus. We were expecting just a small SUV to pick us up but what showed up was a luxury mini bus with enough room for 8 people, and plenty of space for the 4 of us to relax and sprawl out. Once we arrived to port we checked in and boarded our 3 stateroom boat as met meet our butler for the next 3 days. The goal for all of us was simple, just relax and enjoy the time on the water.
Halong Bay is essentially a bay off the coast of Vietnam that also has over 1000 different small islands that make for scenic views and great photos. For the most part we cruised along the bay stopping occasionally at a couple of the more notable sights. These included a stop a local fishing village, kayaking in a lagoon and hiking up to a view point at one of the islands. Outside of that we mostly caught up with friends read books and played games on the boat.
After three days of cruising and gorgeous sunsets we headed back to port to catch or bus back to Hanoi. This time we had a bit more of an agenda in Hanoi which included stocking up of North Face Gear sold a discount prices. In our time here in SE Asia we have learned that Entreprenuers here will work at North Face factories to discover how the clothes are made and then set up a shop almost right next door to make their own version with the same materials, patterns etc. In most cases you wouldn’t even tell the difference between them. We finished our time in Hanoi with a trip to another rooftop bar that was one of the highest in Hanoi and gave Panasonic views of the surrounding areas. All in all Hanoi is a very busy city that retains some of the old Vietnamese charm. It’s a great stopping point for those headed to Halong Bay or any of the further ports of hill points.