One of the things that I love to do now is travel around my country. I haven’t always been this way… I used to work constantly, and never really got out to see everything Vietnam has to offer. I used to think that Sapa was in the central part of our country!
I’m an IT guy. I’ve been work in computers and technology since I was a teenager. I’m self taught, and by the time I started my own web development company, Dagiac, I had never really travelled. After the change over to more digital marketing work for a tour agency client in Hanoi, I started exploring more of Vietnam, and became a cofounder of Halong Hub. I started traveling more after meeting new friends and really started enjoying it.
After getting first hand experience of what it is like to travel in this country, both the positives and negatives, I really want to be a part of building up the tourism industry in Vietnam. There is so much potential, and not just foreigners, but for all of us that call Vietnam home as well.
We started Halong Hub because there is so much to see and I want to try to share as much as possible with other people that want to explore the vast differences between a place like the highlands of Dalat, and the coastal wonders of Halong. I grew up in Saigon, so it’s always special to be able to check out other parts of the country.
When my publishing director and I decided to take a few different tours around the northern part of Vietnam, we flew up to Hanoi to work and stay with some friends, while eventually planning on heading out to Halong to get acquainted with the famous cruises of Halong Bay. This would not only be something that we would enjoy, getting some much needed relaxation time, but it is also something that we love to do to help our business evolve. The more we know about the places that people are traveling to, the more we can help people travel more efficiently and enjoyably.
There are a ton of different options when looking at the various cruise lines, and we decided to go with one that we had heard great things about, Signature Cruise Halong. We took a passenger van from Hanoi, snaking through beautiful scenery all the way until reaching the coastal town, growing ever so quickly due to the bustling tourism industry headed by Halong Bay cruise tours.
We were dropped off at a nice indoor waiting area near the dock for tea and luggage drop off, then were led down to the dock to jump aboard our small boat that would take us to our cruise ship for the evening and following day.
The ship was beautiful. A stark white contrasting the crystal blue waters illuminated by the intense sunlight beaming down from above. We could not have asked for better weather to start off our stay on the ship. We were greeted by the friendly faces and waves from the crew waiting to help us load onto the Signature Cruise ship. The staff was really genuine. A lot of laughs and jokes while getting acquainted with all of the space on the boat, and honestly, I was pretty blown away by the interior size of the ship after seeing it from the outside.
We were led up a staircase after being greeted with a beverage from the host desk, after a perfect four-course lunch of fresh seafood and various salads, we were led to our rooms, which were comfortable and large enough for a stay of a week or two. I could get used to this. A whirlpool in the bathroom, a private balcony to take photos of the bay and just enjoy the perfect weather. A giant bed, television, WIFI, and plenty of outlets to charge electronics. If Halong Bay wasn’t so beautiful, I would have just stayed in my room.
There was too much to see, however, and we were asked to get acquainted with the boat, our rooms, and then to board the smaller motorboats that would take us to explore a beautiful Halong pearl production area floating on the top of the crystal blue waters. The sights on just this short trip really represented how phenomenal the geology of the surrounding area is. The limestone karsts really have to be seen in person to fully appreciate their grand stature. They tower over everything. Little nooks and crannies and caves carved out from the millions of years of ocean lapping up at the sides of the stone faces. The topography is so green and untouched that you wish you could just climb up the sides of them and appreciate them up close.
After we finished our short excursion, we had a phenomenal dinner of freshly caught prawn, squid, and a perfect array of Vietnamese cuisine fused with some Western french style concepts. With some beers with some friends, new acquaintances, and two newlywed couples (they even surprised them with a special event at dinner) – I was genuinely surprised at how comfortable I felt floating around on a cruise boat, and how warm the service was that made it so easy to just sit back and relax. I will never forget this night, mostly because the environment was just friendly and exactly what I would want from being thrown onto a boat with a bunch of random people I didn’t know. Signature made it light hearted and fun.
After a good many beers I headed for bed because in the morning there were a bunch of options for activities. We opted to go head toward the caves to explore them with a guide, and then lounge around on a white sand beach. The beach was really awesome. There are all these interesting hidden spots all over the bay, and it makes you wonder about the myths and mysteries that reside in the stories about Halong Bay.
The cave was a perfect example of the type of thing I am talking about. You would never know it was there, and it was huge. Giant stalactites and stalagmites jutting down from the ceiling. Cool lights illuminating the walls so you could really marvel at how deep and high the cave really went. The guide gave us a nice historical lesson about how these caves were discovered, and how they finally became available for visitors to check out. It was a nice cool break, but I was ready to walk this beach!
After we spent time lounging around on the white sand, others came back from kayaking and we headed back to the cruise ship to make our journey to the dock in Halong to move on from our brief, but well needed little vacation.
We had a light brunch and watched as the beauty of Halong Bay passed us by. It wouldn’t be the last time I come to this majestic UNESCO World Heritage site. It really does have a mystical allure, and the cruise service made it so effortless to enjoy ourselves and not worry about a thing that I felt I gained an experience I had never really had before.
Everytime I decide to take another trip, I am always happy and energized after the experience. Halong Bay just motivates me more every time I get to see it. I see the bay, and I want everyone in the world that comes to Vietnam to see it as well. Until next time!