One of my favourite places on Earth, Halong Bay is an incredible sight to behold. Approaching this cluster of limestone islands, each one shrouded in rainforest and peaking out from beneath emerald green still waters, it feels like you have just discovered a majestic ancient land. Exploring the area on a traditional junk boat (an ancient design of Chinese sailing ship), civilisation and modern technology seem like a distant memory.
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed bay attracts scuba divers, rock climbers, hikers, sea kayakers, cave enthusiasts, and backpackers by the boat-load.
Our boat was full of like-minded backpackers, and we had our own little twin cabin on board. At night the junk boat pulled up in a ‘communal’ bay with lots of other junk boats and some people made the (2-storey) leap off the boat and swam over to visit other, more lively, ships moored up in the area. By day we explored the small islands with their own little beaches and grottoes by sea kayak, the nooks and crannies of the enormous Sung Sot Cave, and lots more leaping off the top floor of the junk boat!
Halong Bay, while extremely popular with tourists, is still so tranquil and so cultural that I would recommend it to anyone as a top bucket-list destination. Must visit!