After the bus ride you can go to one of the many "seafood restaurants". Crabs, fish, mussels and other marine animals are presented in wash bowls and aquariums in front of the restaurants. The dishes are very simple, in most restaurants the seafood is only fried or cooked.
Almost every vessel heading for "Ha Long Bay" sail from the "Tuan Chao" Island, which is connected to the mainland by a bridge. The boats leave in the morning and come back to the harbor in the afternoon, depending on the tour. It is very bussy in the morning, when about 50 boats leave at the same time.
The harbor is just 3 km away from the first island. After a short time you reach a bay with a small harbor. Here is the pier of the "Thien Cung cave". You leave the ship running through the cave and get back to your boat at another jetty. Best remember the number of your boat.
The "Thien Cung Cave" on Dao Go Island was created some 700,000 years ago. The cave offers illuminated stalactites and stalagmites in an area of 3,000 m². "Thien Cung" (Chinese Tian Gong) means "sky palace". In Chinese mythology, caves are the home of unnatural beings. The cave has different halls connected by stairs.
Halong Bay is located approximately one hundred kilometers south of the Chinese border. About 90% of the tourists are from China and about 9% are other Asians. Western tourists are rare. For this reason, hotel staff tend to speak Chinese, Korean or Japanese. English is not very common even in big hotels.
The "Ha-Long Bay" is actually made up of rocks, but there are rocks that are more than just stones that protrude from the water. The most famous rocks are Hon Ga Choi "Rooster and Hen", two rocks directly opposite to each other. They are known throughout Vietnam, because they are on the back of the 200,000 Dong bill.
On the waterfront of Ha-Long City (Hong Gai) there is a nice shopping center with elegant shops and cafes overlooking the harbor. Turning to the west side into Truyen Dang Street leads you to the market hall "Cho Ha Long". In front of the market hall are traders who sell fresh fruit and vegetables even if the market hall is already closed.
A real attraction in the city of Halong is the "Long Tien Temple" at the foot of "Bai Tho" mountain. The colorful Buddhist temple was built in the style of the Nguyen dynasty. In front of the temple stands a pagoda, in the courtyard you will sie "Guanyin" (female Bodhisattva of Compassion) and in the temple sits a golden Buddha.
The Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1994. The bay with its approximately 2,000 islands is one of the main tourist destinations of Vietnam. 775 of these are UNESCO World Heritage sites. The name "Ha Long" (Xia Long) means drowning dragon. In fact, it is a limestone plateau that sinks slowly into the sea.
Ha-Long-city consists of two districts connected by a bridge. Bai Chay is located west of Hong Gai east of the bridge. Bai Chay is closer to the island where the tourist boat harbor is located. The place itself does not offer much, except a street with seafood restaurants. At the harbor promenade a huge amusement center with a beach is built. Hong Gai is a bit more urban and offers more shopping, restaurants and cafes. On a hill above the city stands a big ferris wheel.
Tours to Ha Long Bay
From Hanoi you can take the bus to Ha Long City for little money and choose a boat tour there. But this is not easy, as the port is on an island about 10 km from the city. We could book a tour in the hotel because we speak Chinese, otherwise it would not have been possible because nobody in the hotel understood English. That was in 2016, maybe something has improved. It is easier to look for a tour on the Internet beforehand or book a tour in Hanoi.