Sailing a Junk to a Magical Land
AutoVenture’s trip to Halong Bay is just a 3.5-hour drive from Hanoi, but it may as well be a time machine. Sailing a junk across Vietnam’s Halong Bay, the view from your vessel is unlike anything you’ve seen before. It’s a page out of a storybook, with the bay’s limestone pillars poking through the reflecting blue water like the spines of a sea dragon’s back; and the site of the other junks traversing the bay harkens back to another century.
After boarding your junk and settling into your private cabin, prepare your appetite for an enjoyable lunch on deck. You’ll want all your energy for your afternoon stop to explore the vast and mysterious Tien Ong Cave, located on one of the 2,000 islets in this World Heritage locale. Its cave door is dressed with a layer of emerald green moss, which gives way to a limestone cornucopia of stalactites and stalagmites. Your knowledgeable AutoVenture guide will point out formations that look like creatures and humans. Even more fascinating is your private guide’s description of the cave’s stone artifact assemblages from HoaBinh culture that date to 10000-2000 BCE.
The next memorable stop is the Cua Van fishing village, which is a town of more than 130 floating homes, including a school and medical facility, anchored in the bay’s sheltered coves. Here the children are said to learn to swim before walking, and a pleasant site is seeing them paddling about in their small bamboo basket boats. Many will want to take the climb to the top of Ti Top Island for the best view of the bay. Then it’s time to head back to the junk for a cooking demonstration with the chef, or to luxuriate on the top deck for a drink and an incomparable view of the setting sun.
For those unfamiliar with Vietnam, an AutoVenture guided tour is the surest way of getting closest to the culture, and of capturing an unforgettable land.
There are 450 different mollusks, 200 different species of fish, and 160 species of coral in Halong Bay.
Halong Bay has about 1,960 islands and islets, most of which are beautiful limestone.