Go to Ha Long Bay and You May Never Feel the Need to Go Anywhere Else in Viet Nam

Real Estate Agent with Elizabeth Anne Weintraub, Broker DRE #00697006

The absolute highlight of my trip to Viet Nam was spending 2 days on a Chinese junk in Ha Long Bay. This area is designated as an  UNESCO World Heritage site and has been nominated as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, as well as the 8th Wonder of the World. Ha Long Bay is simply stunning. There are more than 1900 islands, mostly made from limestone, emerging hundreds of feet high from the sea, exploding in spectacular glory.

Most of the islands are uninhabitable and contain caves and lakes. The Vietnamese government prohibits occupation of the islands, but you will find floating fishing villages near some of the larger islands. Some fishing villages raise pigs, so it's sort of weird to see a floating structure with a pig on it. Other villagers eke out a living by rowing around the waters to sell supplies to visitors on junks.

The water is serene, and even though we were warned to wear warm clothing, it wasn't really cold in December and I didn't need my jacket. Our boat held 9 cabins, which didn't leave room for our guide, so he had to spend the night on some other boat.

When we arrived, we were promptly served lunch on the junk in a formal dining room. Giant shrimp cocktails, clams in juice, fish in tomato sauce, salads, spring rolls, fresh fruit and custards, yum. The first deck contained the kitchen, a dining room and a bridge where passengers could shoot photos or simply sit around and enjoy cocktails and the view. The bottom deck had cabins with windows, and the walls, floors and ceilings were covered with glossy wood.

Here are some photos of Ha Long Bay:

ha long bay viet nam

This is the view after leaving the harbor. It was a party cloudy day in early December, but I was still able to capture the magnificence of the limestone islands.

ha long bay viet nam

Our boat was the Huong Hai junk, very similar to the junk you can see in the distance here. The bay is so huge that you can float along and not spot any other boats until you reach a harbor.

ha long bay viet nam

This is a protected area where many boats dock, just around the corner from a floating fishing village. We stopped here to tour Sung Sot, which is nicknamed Surprise Cave.

ha long bay viet nam

OK, the colors are caused by reflections from colored lights set up around the cave, but isn't this spectacular? There is also a lake inside Sung Sot. It contains several gigantic chambers.

sung sot cave ha long bay viet nam

This makes you feel like you are in another world. There are crystals, rock formations, stalagmites and stalactites. The stalactites grow from the top and the stalagmites form from the bottom, and are generally found in caves with limestone.

sung sot cave ha long bay viet nam

Isn't this like being on Mars? There were a lot of tourists in Surprise Cave when we were there, many with foreign-speaking guides who pointed out images in the limestone. Tons of tourists crowded the steps to each new chamber. But most of the travel destinations in the world are flooded with tourists; it doesn't matter where you go, you end up standing in line.

ha long bay viet nam

My husband said since I snapped this vendor's photo, I had to buy something from her. I didn't. I mean, what am I going to do with a box of Ritz crackers? But tourists must buy them or she wouldn't stock them.

Photos: Elizabeth Weintraub

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Weintraub and Wallace Realtors



Elizabeth Weintraub reviews




Elizabeth Weintraub is co-partner of Weintraub & Wallace Team of Top Producing Realtors, an author, home buying expert at The Balance, a Land Park resident, and a veteran real estate agent who specializes in older, classic homes in Land Park, Curtis Park, Midtown, Carmichael and East Sacramento, as well as tract homes in Elk Grove, Natomas, Roseville and Lincoln. Call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759. Put our combined 80 years of real estate experience to work for you. Broker-Associate at RE/MAX Gold. DRE License # 00697006.

Photo: Unless otherwise noted in this blog, the photo is copyrighted by Big Stock Photo and used with permission.The views expressed herein are Weintraub's personal views and do not reflect the views of RE/MAX Gold. Disclaimer: If this post contains a listing, information is deemed reliable as of the date it was written. After that date, the listing may be sold, listed by another brokerage, canceled, pending or taken temporarily off the market, and the price could change without notice; it could blow up, explode or vanish. To find out the present status of any listing, please go to elizabethweintraub.com.

Comments (12)

Brian Block
RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President - McLean, VA
Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate

Elizabeth, beautiful pictures and it looks like a great trip.

Reminds me very much of our trip through Phang Na Bay off of Phuket, Thailand 3 years ago.

Dec 19, 2009 01:02 AM
Ricky Khamis
Unity Home Loans, LLC - Gilbert, AZ
NMLS 173141 | CADOC 173141 - 480-339-1565

WOW!  That is incredible!

Dec 19, 2009 01:04 AM
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Broker
Elizabeth Anne Weintraub, Broker - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

Well, we could have easily spent a week in Ha Long Bay. It's about a 2 1/2-hour bus trip from Ha Noi, even though it's less than 100 miles away. There is also a town on the side of Ha Long Bay where Indochine was filmed, which won an Oscar for Catherine Deneuve in 1993.

Dec 19, 2009 01:27 AM
Terry & Bonnie Westbrook
Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner - Grand Rapids, MI
Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re

Wonderful photos glad you found time to share them with us.

Dec 19, 2009 01:28 AM
C Tann-Starr
Tann Starr & Associates, Inc. - Palm Bay, FL

Featured @ Club Chaos

Dec 19, 2009 02:35 AM
Marcy Moyer
eXp Realty of California Silicon Valley Probate, Trust, and Investment Sales - Mountain View, CA
Probate, Trust, and Investment Specialist

Thanks so much for sharing these photos. as a person who does not get to travel much i love seeing other places from the perspective of travelers.


Dec 19, 2009 04:13 AM
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

Great photos and I love your descriptions.  Although I have to agree with you husband, you should have bought "something" from that vendor, even if it wasn't the ritz.  I'm glad you told us the green was  reflection of lights or I might well have thought you were in another world.  Surprise Cave certainly looks like something right out of a science fiction flick.  So are you all relaxed now or do you need a vacation to recover from your vacation.  Enjoy your holidays.

Dec 19, 2009 07:28 AM
Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR

Those are beautiful pictures.  I would like to visit the site if the flight over weren't so long!

Dec 19, 2009 11:12 AM
Steve Shatsky
Dallas, TX

Hi Elizabeth... simply gorgeous!  You should have bought the Ritz crackers... everything tastes better when it sits on a Ritz!

Dec 19, 2009 12:02 PM
Lottie Kendall
Compass - San Francisco, CA
Helping make your real estate dreams a reality

Great pictures and commentary. Make me want to pack my bags and go.

Dec 19, 2009 12:20 PM
Robin Rogers
Robin Rogers, Silverbridge Realty, San Antonio, Texas - San Antonio, TX
CRS, TRC, MRP - Real Estate Investment Adviser

Welcome back, Elizabeth! Thanks for bringing such interesting photos back with you. Looks like you had a great trip!



Dec 20, 2009 03:44 AM