Second time in Vietnam
Vietnam is one of the most beautiful places in the world where nature landscapes are just spectacular. A few years ago , I visited the south of vietnam with few of my friends. Although it was a fun trip with friends but I hated it because everyone we met were not nice and rude.And I told myself “I am never coming back to this country again”. But I always wanted to see Halong Bay, one of the new nature wonders of the world and I was like suck it up and lets go and see.
I am so glad I made that decisions , The nature is so beautiful ( especially the further north part of the country ) .And the people are the most nicest and helpful people.Most of the time, they didn’t know how to speak english, but they would try their best to help us .Visiting Vietnam can be a love and hate relationship experience, so I highly recommend to check out the reviews on tripadvisor to stay in a place that is highly recommended by like minded travellers.
Highlights of the trip
Cruising in Halong Bay
For me the best part of the cruise was spending the time at the cruise itself. It was a peaceful relaxing experience .Highly highly recommend , we booked the package from the hotel so the price was cheaper than the normal price . I was afraid the cruise wouldn’t be so great, I was wrong. everything about the trip was so nice and worth the money , the food, the tour guide , the itinerary for 2 days, the room and definitely the service. The only thing is they don’t provide soft drinks for free (except bottle water for the room and a glass of wine for the first day ).
View from Tip Top island
It is a long way to go up there , 400 stairs. So if you aren’t fit enough you can go up just half way, they have different view points along the way, it offer almost the same view. This photo was taken along the way up so you doesn’t have to force yourself to reach to the top if you have children or elderly people. My recommendation is to not skip this because of the long stairs, it is worth it.
Sung Sot Cave
This is the experience you have to be there to appreciate how beautiful and amazing it is. It was slightly crowded (not overly crowded though) but I really enjoy every minute of it.If you reach inside, don’t listen to what your guide says( mostly rubbish in my opinion ) instead wander yourself around (make sure you know where your group is) .
Balcony view of the karst Mountains from Lang Son
Do not stopover here. The views from our balcony were great but there is next to absolutely nothing to do at the town itself. It was a mistake with terrible bus ride from Hanoi.
The journey from Cao Bang to Ban Gioc
This should be on top lists of world’s most scenic bus rides. Unfortunately I didn’t have much pictures because of our bus moving way too fast. I highly recommend to take a private car from Cao Bang if you don’t mind spending more money, you can stop any time you want . The views along the way are just beyond words.
Ban Gioc waterfall
It is the largest waterfall in Asia and the fourth largest waterfall along a national border in the world. The journey reaching here is a pain in the ass but it is worth all the trouble. Bring extra clothes and your own snacks.The easiest way to reach cao bang ( the nearest town to the waterfall) from hanoi is to take the overnight sleeping bus.
Climbing up to mountain of waterfall
You are not allowed to climbed up ( please don’t try to climb up like me). There is a sign saying near the small path that is going to the top of the waterfall , I went up there alone with bare feet because my slipper was not working in a slippery path, I was so scared , if the weather is bad or raining I strongly think you shouldn’t go up at all, as the path that you are going to pass through will be full of water.It was beautiful but not the best in my opinion as the waterfalls are too near and you can’t get a great view . I was so scared because of the sound of waterfalls and kind of imagining what if the water comes overflowing but at the same time being up there alone make me felt accomplish to overcoming my fear.
Rafting in Ban Gioc Waterfall
You are actually in China when you are taking the raft as it was half own by China , but it is illegal to enter China from there.From the raft you will see the beautiful view of the waterfall and being up close with waterfall and realise how huge the waterfall actually is.
View from the mountain top temple
Hire a bike from the shops near the waterfall if you are taking local transport from Ban Gioc. Do not think to hike up , it looks near but it is far ( it is much better to have more time up there than struggling yourself to the top in hot sun. Make sure you bargain the price because the guys there really want to take your money.
Cycling through rice paddles
It was 4 hour bus ride (total 8 hours for a day trip) . If you ask me is it worth it , definitely yes. I am no strangers to rice paddles but Mai Chau exceeds my expectation.It was located high up in the mountains .But the place is such a charming place to visit, if you have time, spend a few days there , they have a few lovely accommodation.Another tip is take a nap on your way to Maichau and admire the views on return home, you will see the beautiful setting sun along the way, dont miss it.