21- 22 January 2012
Hanoi is a great place to go on day trips in North Vietnam. One day was spent at Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Vietnam. After visiting some temples, I went with the group to Tam Coc (16km away from Hoa Lu by car). We started the 2 hour Tam Coc (Three caves) boat-ride and saw pagodas in the distance as well as villages, the usual grottoes and karst scenery.
Halong Bay, east of Hanoi is a must for those passing through North Vietnam. Also known as the Bay of Descending Dragons (UNESCO WHS), it first appeared on a French Marine Map in the late 19th century. The bay is made up of 1969 islands, both settled and uninhabited. It is well-known for its karst topography and is a great place for water sports and canoeing.
The boat ride around the various areas in Halong Bay was nice and since it was drizzling that day, we were one of the few tour groups there. After having lunch, we visited a limestone cave and spent the afternoon canoeing. It was a lot more relaxing than busy Hanoi.