Our second to last stop was Halong Bay. Halong Bay is in the northeast part of Vietnam and is one of its most photographed locations. As the bus approached the harbor I immediately saw why. It’s majestic! The first thing I noticed was the water, which is a rich, emerald green. As your eyes travel up you see impressive limestone islands covered in jungle plant life which makes the deep green vegetation a stark contrast to the dark grey stone.
Our group was fortunate to have rented out an entire Chinese Junker boat to ourselves for the evening. Vietnam will always be a beautiful place, but if you are going to visit I’d suggest you go soon. As our different guides pointed out the country is just starting to get used to having tourists and is still navigating the waters of opening up their country to Westerners. There is still a lot of freedom for visitors and not many regulations on your travels. As time goes by, however, more attractions are being more tightly regulated. A perfect example is Halong Bay. Presently most tourists stay overnight on a boat as they cruise around the bay. In two years from now, however, you will no longer be able to stay overnight on a boat and will have to stay in a hotel in town. We heard several examples like this of upcoming proposed regulations on different areas we visited.