FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Drift Through the Otherworldly Landscape of Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay

by Rina Nehdar

May 31, 2024

PHOTO: © OLENA SERDITOVA | DREAMSTIME

Leisure Lifestyle 2024

The rocks rose hundreds of feet above our boat as we slid between the fanglike formations. Bushes and vines swung from limestone karsts like tendrils of intestines left after a gluttonous meal. About a dozen of us gaped from the deck as we passed the high-rise sculptures carved over millions of years into mounds of spikes and cavities. Almost 2,000 of these islets and islands dot the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, creating an ominous beauty. It wasn’t hard to imagine why it provided the backdrop of Kong: Skull Island.

On Day 3 of our 12-day tour of Vietnam with G-Adventures, we arrived on our overnight cruise. Our group of three families had just left the moped-clogged arteries of Hanoi, took a two-hour bus ride and boarded a traditional junk boat. Our guide was Thuy. “Twee,” like a bird, he said.

Various-sized vessels anchored around us. We passed locals fishing in rowboats, their homes in one of four floating villages anchored permanently in the shallow bay, the deepest point at 33 feet.

Thuy narrated our journey. He took us to the most popular beach in Ha Long Bay, Ti Top Beach on Ti Top Island, a speck at 9 acres and named after a Russian cosmonaut who visited the island in 1962. While the rest of the families swam in the cordoned-off, warm green water, my friend Terri and I climbed 450 steps to the pagoda perched atop the island. From here most visitors snap photos of Ha Long Bay.

© RICHARD VAN DER WOUDE | DREAMSTIME

Next we explored the paved paths of Hang Sửng Sốt (aka Surprise Cave, which refers to how surprisingly big it is) on the island of Bo Hon. White, green and red lights spotlighted stalagmites, stalactites and shapes that spawned folklore through the 18,000 years humans have lived within the archipelago.

Finally, we ducked under a cavern as a local rowed our bamboo boat through Luon Cave. It opened to a mouth of rocks surrounding a shamrock-green lagoon. Jagged cliffs draped with lush, vibrant vegetation caused even the kids to sit in silent wonder.

Visitors can tour Ha Long Bay on day, overnight or multiday cruises. You can arrange a luxury experience with Le Journey Luxury Cruise, Alisa Premier Cruise and Paradise Elegance.

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