Halong Bay - it’s like nowhere else on earth
You know those visions of coastal Asia that hover in your subconscious, where traditional junks sail past craggy, forest-covered shoreline as an apricot sunset blazes into the misty horizon? You may think they exist because you watched too many Bond films, but Halong Bay looks just like that.
One of the world’s ‘natural wonders’, and an absolute must-see for any visitor to the north of Vietnam, the Bay (also spelt Ha Long) is defined by more than 1,000 awe-inspiring limestone karsts and islands of various sizes.
Of course it’s slowly modernizing, but Halong Bay’s UNESCO status makes sure it stays well protected. The area plays host to a huge diversity of ecosystems, including offshore coral reefs, freshwater swamp forests, mangrove forests, small freshwater lakes, and sandy beaches.
Folklore says that dragons descended from the heavens to help locals by spitting jewels and jade into the sea, forming a natural fortress against invaders – the islands that you see today. Several of these boast beautiful grottos and huge caves that you can explore during your tour of the bay.
Throughout much of the year (weather & season permitting!) overnight junk journeys give you the chance to sunbathe, swim and snorkel. You can be sure to stop at caves, deserted bays, remote islets and hidden lagoons. If you fancy taking things even easier, just stretch out on the sundeck, sip a cocktail and soak up the magic.
Environmental Efforts in Halong Bay
Efforts are being made to minimise the environmental impact on the bay. While the number of junks has increased in recent years, and the pollution levels in some areas are causing concern (particularly around the main ports), Halong Bay’s iconic status and irresistible beauty is still an essential stop on any journey through Vietnam.
Sailing the water of Halong Bay in style
Having travelled the 170km from Hanoi (the journey takes approx 3.5 hours by road) you can board one of a selection of vessels. Over the years we have formed a strong relationship with several junk operators in Halong Bay and can offer a range of vessels to suit all requirements and to meet any budget. Sailing options on Halong Bay include traditional junk, deluxe junk, private junk, or the deluxe Colonial Emeraude Cruise.
Each has its advantages; the deep-hulled Emeraude takes a far more solitary course than many of the junks, although on the flip side, due to its bulk, it does not have the ease of access to small bays and harbours that the shallow-hulled junks allow.
Whatever you favour, you can be assured of exceptional food, a fun crew and a backdrop you will never forget. Cabins are all en suite and comfortable. On the deluxe junks there is the opportunity to upgrade to a cabin with a private balcony, surely the finest spot on the planet to enjoy your morning coffee!?
The day usually starts early with the sun rising across the bay, lighting up the magnificent limestone karts. Breakfast is served on board whilst the skipper sets the days course. Much of the pleasure is just soaking up the views from your cabin or the outdoor deck, however stops will be made, allowing you to feel dry land once again and explore caves or hike up to spectacular vantage points.
Lunch and dinner are social affairs, as you join the other guests in the junks restaurant. Food is plentiful and if you like seafood then you’re in for a special treat, however all meal requirements can be catered for. There is a small bar on board also ensuring sunset can be toasted in style!
Halong Bay – Deluxe JunkThe 1930s style Jasmine was launched in 2007. Stretching 55 metres in length, the junk has three decks housing its luxurious accommodation, dining and bar facilities. Each of the lavishly fitted cabins has large, external windows, promising you the… more
Halong Bay – DeluxeThe 38 metre long Halong Ginger is amongst the finest of the deluxe junks that ply their trade on the dark blue waters of Halong Bay. Custom-designed for comfort, safety and an authentic aesthetic, the Ginger conceals 10 luxurious en-suite cabins, a… more
Halong Bay – Deluxe JunkParadise Junk was launched in late 2008 and has been a popular addition to our deluxe junks ever since. The 41 metre vessel has a very contemporary Vietnamese style and is nothing if not luxurious. The cabins all have en suite facilities and large… more
Halong Bay – First Class Junk. The long serving Bai Tho Junk company manage to deliver great value cruise experiences with safety at the forefront of everything they do. The company have been operating in the bay for years, giving their passengers the chance to enjoy the… more