Halong Bay is one of those places that I kept hearing about; a UNESCO World Heritage Site and gorgeous scenery. I was determined to explore!

I’d heard some horror stories about people crammed onto boats, super-heated rooms and mosquitoes galore so I decided to upgrade and do a trip through Vega Travel. I was so glad I did as my whole experience was a fantastic one.

I choose to go on a 3 days, 2 night tour and I was planning on jumping ship on Cat Ba Island so that I could have an extra couple of days there before rejoining a tour back to Hanoi.

Our boat was well cared for; the staff had even put pot plants along the deck. My room was quite luxurious. An en-suite bathroom, air conditioning and a fantastic sea view.

Our cruise took us past the hundreds of islands and islets of Bai Tu Long Bay area which is less touristy than Halong Bay itself.

A visit to see the largest cave in Halong Bay (Hang Sung Sot) and a kayak through a limestone tunnel into a serenely calm grotto (Hang Luon) completed a wondrous first day.

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The evening spent on the boat was quiet; thankfully nowhere near the party boats. I enjoyed watching the sea eagles diving for their dinner and getting to know the rest of the travelers over a delicious dinner.

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We were up early the next morning so we could beat the crowds walking up the 340 steps to the top of Titop Mountain to watch the sunset. The heat swiftly followed and we were grateful to reach the bottom and have a swim.

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The view from the top was well worth the climb

The view from the top was well worth the climb

I had a close encounter with one of the locals; the Fire Jellyfish. Wow! That creature is well named! That is the first time I’ve been stung by a jellyfish and it was a whole different experience. Lucky the crew was on hand to apply lime juice; which is a very effective way to stop the stinging. An hour later the stinging was gone and I was able to go cycling and hiking.

We were now in Cat Ba Island National Park. We cycled past the paddy fields to the little village of Viet Hai. For those who were keen, and not attached to the ice cream freezer, we did an hour and half loop track walk through the jungle. Although it was stinking hot it was wonderful to be in the jungle and see the flora and fauna in this part of the world.

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After relaxing on the boat for lunch we continued our energetic day with more kayaking, finishing off with a well-deserved swim.

We spent the night on Cat Ba Island in a wonderful hotel with the most superb views of the sunset.

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This is where I jumped ship to stay on the island.

When I rejoined the tour it was a straight boat ride back to the port with no stops so I was glad that I had gone on a longer tour as I don’t think that a 2 day, 1 night trip would’ve been enough to see all that this area has to offer.

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