Limestone hills soaring like sentries above an expanse of water welcomed us in Halong Bay. This UNESCO World Heritage nestled in Quang Ninh Province (Vietnam) has been on my bucket-list for years. Thankfully, Cebu Pacific Air now flies to Hanoi from Manila (Philippines), just a few hours away from Halong Bay.
The towering sentinels dappled around Halong Bay took millions of years to develop.
Halong Bay has attracted hordes of tourists over the years, and I understand why. It may not have the turquoise waters (like the ones in Palawan) , but it overflows with karts formations – like about 1,600 limestone islands draped by verdurous wilderness – which makes it undeniably mesmeric! Indeed, its importance to the science of geomorphology cannot be denied. Just imagine how many million years it took for those gorgeous karts develop in its present-day form.
Admiring the mesmeric scenery
Our unassuming boat floated like a tiny toy around these gorgeous mammoths sprinkled around the sea, while the fogs lend mystery to the vivid seascape. After long minutes of admiring the dreamy scenery, over a dozen of us – mostly fellow travel bloggers – made our way to one of the caverns lying beneath the limestone hills. Our boat docked on a wharf near the cave, and we walked from the wooden platforms towards the steep stairs leading to the mouth of the cave.
Thien Cung Grotto (Heavenly Palace Cave) is an enchanting cave bursting with flowstones, stalactites, stalagmites, drapery and pillars, among others. A leisurely walk inside is like walking in a colossal natural art museum with glowing multi-hued carnival lights. Several legends in Vietnamese culture surround this beautiful cavern. One was that a dragon who created Halong Bay resides here and married a lonely girl in a bid to escape oppression.
But my favorite part of the Halong Bay experience was the boating tour . From our ‘junk’ boat, we transferred to a small boat and the friendly local paddler brought us to a sea enclosed by towering limestone hills.
A typical look of the Halong Bay Cruise boat interior.
Overall, I like our Halong Bay Day Cruise experience; the dreamy vista coupled with a fun company made it truly remarkable.
Like a boss! At the deck of our Halong Bay junk boat
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