This area, a few hours East of Hanoi, is gorgeous!
It would not be totally fair for me to say it's Ha Long Bay, but Ha Long Bay is right next door. The two areas are separated by an invisible line through the limestone islets. On our first trip, we even went into Ha Long Bay proper to climb and kayak for a morning.
Anyway Lan Ha is just as beautiful and from what they say it actually has many sandy beaches while Ha Long has a few. I've posted a some pictures here and to get more go to my Picasa link.
My friends here in Hanoi have jobs during thee week so these trips were done over the weekend. We'd wake up super early on Saturday morning, at 4:30 am, to catch a bus to port city Hai Phong. From there we transfer to a smaller bus to the hydrofoil terminal to catch said hydrofoil to Cat Ba Island, where we once again get on a small bus and drive to the town of Cat Ba. The trip takes about 6 hours. By 11 am we're on the rooftop of the boat floating amongst the islands, trying to get our heads to stop spinning.
We rent an entire boat for ourselves. They cook for us and take us to wherever we'd like. At night we anchor in a small bay amongst local fishermen and their floating houses. There might be one or two other tour boats nearby, unlike Ha Long where one would find a fleet of tour boats in a small bay singing Karaoke all night.
The first trip was mostly deep water soloing and the second was spent climbing on the nice beaches. It is very relaxing out here and no one wanted a mention of chaotic Hanoi. It is nice to know that we have a such a great escape.
Untitled from Linh Nguyen on Vimeo.
Here is a little video I made. There is no sound because the music is copyrighted. (Other videos from here out will have sound.)
For the next two months or so the Bays will still be nice-the air cooling off and the water warm. Come December and January, the air temps and water temps cool off enough that swimming can be uncomfortable for all except the hardy Northern Europeans. Feb, March and April will fill the bays with midst and fog. So, we're enjoying it now...while we can.
*Photos courtesy of Kim Sanders