Ha Long Bay
Posted by Judy and Jim Rutherford
Country: Vietnam
Region: North
Date: 03rd October 2002
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Location: About 3 easy hours drive from the country's capital city, Ha Noi.

Calm water in the bay combined with the natural beauty offer great tranquility and peaceful state of mind. Considered as the world's Eighth Wonders, Ha Long bay is worthwhile to visit. The Canadian dollars go a long way in Vietnam and this makes it even better.

 
Posted by: Javier - pww[at]yahoo dot com
Date: Thursday, 02nd November 2006 07:08 PM
In Halong Bay, I booked passage aboard the Emeraude -- a copy of a French steamer that once plied these waters in the early 20th century. Certainly the largest boat at 55m (180 ft.), the elegant Emeraude has 38 cabins, a fine-dining outlet, and plenty of room to stretch my legs. The luxury trip comes with a price tag, of course, but the 2-day, 1-night cruise is well worth it. Leaving Hanoi at 8am, I checked in at the private Emeraude pier and be shuttled to the boat. Before checking in to your cabin, we enjoyed welcome drinks and a quick orientation. Compact, as ship cabins always are, onboard rooms are decked out in hardwood, with nice fixtures like air-conditioning, a private reading lamp, slippers for shuffling about the decks, and a tidy, compact bathroom area with toilet, shower, and a separate room for a small sink stand. Everything onboard is retro, which means pleasing hardwood, brass, and fine linens. The oversize wicker chairs on the top deck are cozy, and I can find shaded areas as well as sun-worshipping space. A casual, friendly atmosphere pervades, especially when the corks start popping. Dining onboard is a delicious buffet, and most guests find themselves sharing a meal with new friends. Lunch on day 1 is followed by a stop at the Surprise Cave, then an afternoon of cruising and great views of the islands. The boat docks in a quiet harbor and guests have an opportunity to, on their own or with a guide, explore nearby Trinh Nu and Hang Trong, the Virgin Cave and the Cave of the Winds, or take a dip in the bay. The back of the boat is low in the water and there is a sturdy ladder making it easy to get on and off (the adventurous will join the crew for dives off the upper decks). Dinner is a sumptuous affair of fine local cuisine (heavy on seafood) and good Western options. Enjoy drinks on the upper deck as you watch the moonlight glisten off the bay. Day 2 starts with tai chi classes on the sun deck as a brilliant sunrise paints its colors on the arching canvas of high limestone peaks jutting from the glassy waters. Blissful. After my exercise, tuck in to a hearty Western-style breakfast. The boat returns to the dock by 9:30am, and a direct transfer finds myself back in Hanoi by lunchtime. The trip is quite memorable, and a ride on this retro ship, outfitted to the nines, is unique to Halong Bay. The price for the overnight cruise is $290 for a luxury cabin for two and $490 for the one-suite room. Transfer from Hanoi costs $100 for a four-seat vehicle. Check the website at www.emeraude-cruises.com or call the offices at the Press Club in Hanoi (tel. 04/934-0888; fax 04/934-0899).
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Land Size: 329,560 sq km
Capital: Hanoi
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