A fantastic experience for fantastic friends

Halong Bay and Lan Ha – welcome to the world natural wonder

The World Heritage of Halong Bay is one of the most popular destinations. Lan Ha is an extension of Halong Bay. This part belongs to Hai Phong, a beautiful port city. Lan Ha has lots of limestone islands and islets in fascinating shapes rising from the emerald water, but less touristy than Halong Bay in comparison.

Halong Bay - World Natural Wonder
Halong Bay – World Natural Wonder

Today was great with wonderful weather, which favored our trip a lot. After taking the Hanoi City Tour, which Gavin and Rachael greatly enjoyed, I met them back at Silk Queen Grand hotel in Hanoi the next day at 9 AM. We exchanged some interesting experiences from the previous trip before embarking on a tour of Halong Bay and Ninh Binh at 9:15 AM.

After more than a two hour drive, we arrived at the Got pier in Hai Phong city where we started the two-day cruise trip through amazing limestone islands. The Lapinta cruise offered many interesting activities such as kayaking, swimming, cooking demonstrations and natural cave exploration.

Journey to “Halong Bay on Land”

Day 1: Welcome to Ninh Binh

After disembarking around noon, we took 3 hours to drive to Ninh Binh. Gorgeous landscapes and historical sites make Ninh Binh one of the most attractive destinations. Several places here have the same formation as Halong Bay, including Trang An, Tam Coc and Van Long. Therefore, people call these places “Halong Bay on Land”.

On arrival, we explored the Trang An landscape, a World Heritage Site. Gavin and Rachael enjoyed spending time on a rowboat through the incredible natural tunnels there. We then headed to Hidden Charm hotel, where we would stay for 2 nights.

Day 2: Discover and experience “Halong Bay on Land”

Our first destination was Hang Mua, which includes Mua cave and Mua mountain. Gavin and Rachael were very excited to find a fantastic view from the mountaintop after climbing 486 stone steps. We were then driven to Bai Dinh Pagoda.

Bai Dinh Pagoda – the largest Buddhist Temple Complex

This Buddhist Temple Complex is known not only for its great size but also for its beautiful setting. The Pagoda holds several records, including the largest gilded bronze Buddha statue (100 tons) in Asia, the largest bronze bell (30 tons) in Vietnam, and the longest corridor of Arhats, about 3 kilometers.

After refreshments and freshening up, we started a cycling tour in the afternoon, which took us a couple of hours. We rode towards Thung Nham Bird Sanctuary, an eco-zone with more than 100 flora and 150 fauna species. It is home to over 40 species of birds, a few on the Threatened Species List and is surrounded by forest strips on limestone mountains. Beside admiring thousands of birds, we also explored a beautiful Mermaid cave and took a boat trip.

Day 3: Further explore Ninh Binh and return to Hanoi

Having breakfast and checking out, we headed to the first destination, Hoa Lu ancient capital from 968 to 1010. Through ups and downs for a thousand year, lots of royal buildings and palaces have been ruined.  Here we visited 2 royal temples built in the 11th century. The temples are not big, but Gavin and Rachael loved the tranquil atmosphere.

Van Long Natural Reserve

The next destination was Van Long, where we explored in a sampan. This stunning place is the largest wetland nature reserve in North Vietnam. Rachael and Gavin loved the site very much because of its natural beauty and tranquility. Afterwards, we had lunch before returning to Hanoi.

What a wonderful experience for wonderful friends!

Gavin and Rachael really enjoyed their trip and they were inspired to plan another trip back to Vietnam. I was very pleased and felt blessed to accompany these fantastic friends on their journey. I am looking forward to seeing them again and having the opportunity to show more of Vietnam.

Thank you for choosing Indochina Focus and allowing me to be of service.