After spending a couple nights enjoying the nightlife and street food in the Hanoi Old Quarter, I traveled to Ha Long Bay with some fellow travelers on the Hanoi Central Backpackers Hideaway Tour. Several of us stayed a night in the dorms at Monkey Island Resort on the beautiful small island of Dao Cat Dua, which is part of the Cat Ba Archipelago.
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, Ha Long Bay is highly touted by travelers as a must-see in Southeast Asia. The Bay is full of limestone pillar isle karsts, there are over 1,600 isles in total!
It’s just a shame that a location as beautiful as Ha Long Bay has so much trash floating around in the water 🙁
December 2016 Update: After traveling to Palawan, Philippines, I discovered how similar Ha Long Bay is to Palawan. Ha Long Bay has many more karsts, but the water is so much more pristine in Palawan. If I had to choose to visit one or the other I would pick Palawan in a heartbeat.
We explored the bay on a double decker boat and then stopped to swim and jump off the boat’s 2nd floor. Then we stepped it up a notch for some cliff jumping at a 12 meter-high cliff.
I was excited to go cliff jumping because I hadn’t went yet in over 4 months of my trip in Southeast Asia. After climbing to the top of the cliff, I braced myself and looked down, and was scared shitless. That’s exactly how you want to feel when you’re cliff jumping, after all, what’s the point of cliff jumping if it’s not scary at all? So, I toothpicked into the water and watched the others take the plunge. What a rush!
After cliff jumping we stopped off and got some kayaks at the floating village. Many people in this village have never left the bay – they have lived and worked on the water their whole lives. Imagine if you grew up in this floating village, and instead of upgrading from bicycle to a car as a teenager, you get upgraded from kayak to motor boat.