Halong Bay, Vietnam
Seeing Halong Bay in a video or photo is one thing, but experiencing it firsthand is unlike anything you could imagine. The UNESCO World Heritage site is closer to something you would see in the movie “Avatar” than something you have seen in real life.
We first arrived in Halong Bay on February 13th. After spending three days cruising through the bay we can honestly say it was the most beautiful place we have traveled to.
Valentine’s Day Weekend on the Oriental Sails Calypso Cruiser
Before we even left for Southeast Asia we knew we wanted to do something special for Valentine’s Day. However, because we didn’t plan out our destinations ahead of time, we had no way of knowing where we would be at the time.
It wasn’t until two weeks beforehand while we were in Pai, that we bought our tickets to Vietnam and could begin making arrangements for Valentine’s weekend. A trip to Halong Bay quickly came to mind as it was somewhere we both have been longing to experience in real life.
After a bit of research we realized the best way to see Halong Bay was to spend a few nights out in the bay on a cruise. In the end we booked a 3 day/2 night stay on the Calypso Cruiser, the mid-sized ship of the Oriental Sails fleet.
The Islands of Halong Bay
The distinctive features of Halong Bay are it’s 1,950+ monoliths. Set across 1,553 square kilometers of turquoise waters, these massive limestone formations have been shaped by 500 million years of geological forces, such as erosion.
Local legend explains that the monoliths were originally a form of self-defense: for when the Jade Emperor called upon dragons to protect the Vietnamese people from attacks by sea. Responding to the call for help, the dragons flew down and spewed thousands of pearls into the sea which turned into the monoliths upon impact, helping to drive away invaders.
Activities with Oriental Sails
We were fortunate to have warm weather during our time in Halong Bay, as temperatures remained in the high 60’s to low 70’s (as opposed to the mid 50’s the week before). Because of this we were really able to enjoy the activities planned by Oriental Sails.
Our first day onboard the Calypso Cruiser we were able to kayak in the bay near Ban Chan beach. Later in the evening there was a happy hour with a cooking class, where we were taught how to make spring rolls. After dinner we spent a few hours on the deck of the Calypso Cruiser sharing travel stories with another American and two Irish girls.
Before leaving the following morning we were taken on one last activity to tour Thien Cahn Son cave. While it is not a large cave, it was interesting to be able to walk up one of the monoliths and learn more about how they formed.