165km from Hanoi, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay is a justifiably popular overnight trip from the capital to visit ~1,600 limestone islands in a shallow bay. There’s a sizeable fleet of boats catering to all needs and budgets at Ha Long City, home to 300,000 people. A few thousand people also live in the bay in four fishing villages.
The limestone towers of Ha Long Bay are home to 59 caves. The largest, and most popular, is the 10,000sqm Sung Sot Cave on Bo Hon Island, in the middle of the bay. ‘Discovered’ by the French in 1901 it is undeniably impressive, if touristy.
This monkey was an unexpected sight on the way out.
After staying overnight in the bay the clouds mostly cleared on our way back to the mainland.
On the way to and from Ha Long Bay from Hanoi we stopped at Government run shops, where hundreds of people create a range of artworks aimed at the tourist market, along with some horrific looking drinks preserving snakes and insects.