Cat Ba and floating villages

We’re spending an evening in the Hung Long Harbour Hotel on Cat Ba Island which has a perfect view out over the bay.

For thousands of years, Halong Bay has been populated by small local communities living on floating villages tucked away in between the dramatic karst landscapes.

The bay is home to a several floating villages with floating homes, fish farms and boats.

This one is the largest – Cua Van Floating Village with around 200 colourful boats.

Originally these villages were built as a place for returning fishermen to sell their fresh catch from the night before.

However they soon become more – thriving little floating communities with schools, shops and socialising.

However people no longer live here full time as the Vietnamese government ordered the villagers to move out several years ago due to ecological concerns.

Now they function mainly as tourist attractions and stop offs from the cruise boats.

They are still an intriguing sight to see though with the floatilla of colourful boats and homes bobbing on the water of the bay.

Kayaking again

We’re back in the tiny plastic boats again! The hubby is happy, I am having flashbacks to having to roll back into the kayak like a drunk walrus . .

This time we’re exploring a few of the hidden little coves in the bay, like this one below.

All in all it’s been an active packed few days and I am ready for a rest. So quite thankful that we’ll be spending a night on dry land on Cat Ba island next!

Team Gibbs Cycling

Here’s a few more snaps from our little cycling tour around Viet Hai village and the surround area.

Due to its isolated location the village feels a little like a trip back in time with traditional ways of life still in existence.

Located deep in the Cat Ba National park, the area is engulfed in lush, green jungle.

But despite being very remote, the villagers have embraced the concept of eco-tourism and you can stay in one of several home stays in the area.

We have a enjoyable (if somewhat panic striken) cycle around the village and the surrounding countryside before heading back to the boat.

This has to be one of my favourite photos so far as the scenery is just stunning!

Viet Hai village

So we’ve done the stunning scenery, kayaked the bay – now it’s cycling time!

We dock at Viet Hai, get on our rather rickety bikes and we’re off to explore the verdant countryside on our way to Viet Hai village.

Can you spot the tiny rider in the middle of all that amazing greenery on the left?!

It’s been approximately ten years since I have plonked my bum on a bike seat and when they say you never forget how to ride – it’s a total lie!

That’s not enjoyment in my eyes- that’s total fear and panic . . .

Viet Hai village is in the midst of jungles, surrounded by high mountains and is situated in the heart of Cat Ba National Park.

It really is worth it for the breath taking scenery. Verdant mountains tumble down to glassy lakes and the greenery has to be seen to be believed.

There’s more photos from this lovely little trip in the next post so come back soon!!!

Ha Long Bay scenery

After our first day of canoeing and exploring we’ve got a relaxed evening on board our Vega Travel boat to chillax and enjoy the scenery.

Designated a World Heritage Site in 1994, Halong Bay’s scatter of islands is a beautiful sight and, unsurprisingly, northern Vietnam’s number one-tourism hub.

Hạ Long Bay has an area of around 1,553 km2 (600 square miles), including between 1,960 and 2,000 islets, most of which are limestone.

Again it might look a little grey but believe me it is flippin hot and humid!

The name Hạ Long means “descending dragon” and the bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various shapes and sizes.

Ha Long Bay is the centre of a larger zone which includes Bai Tu Long Bay to the northeast, and Cát Bà Island to the southwest.

Of course, it can’t be too quiet – given the chance the hubby will hurl himself off anything!!

According to local legend, when Vietnam had just started to develop into a country, they had to fight against invaders.

To assist the Vietnamese in defending their country, the gods sent a family of dragons as protectors.

This family of dragons began spitting out jewels and jade. These jewels turned into the islands and islets dotting the bay, linking together to form a great wall against the invaders.

Ha Long Bay

Our first trip in Vietnam is to a spot I have long hoped to visit – Ha Long Bay.

We booked a two night tour with Vega Travel. Here’s the itinerary we took part in.

A night on board a boat floating in the bay followed by a night on Cat Ba island. Plus canoeing, cycling and visiting some awe inspiring scenery.

We board our little transfer boat at Ha Long Bay wharf and then we get our first glimpse of the incredible, iconic scenery that makes the area a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Ha Long Bay is known for its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests.

It might be a bit grey but it is still impressive (and humid!).

Below you can see some of the famed emerald waters in just one of the many tiny little coves to be found.

We cruise past the hundreds of islands and islets of Bai Tu Long Bay area that is lesser traveled by tourist and well-known for its magnificent seascapes.

Then it’s time to get wet! Hopping into two man kayaks we’re off on a canoe safari!!

Naturally the wild man is enjoying getting active while I prefer to be ferried around capturing the sights!

We spend a few hours exploring the tranquil, off the tourist trail, areas of Ha long Bay.

The bay itself is starting to show the stress of being a major tourist attraction, with 100s of boats clogging up certain areas.

Luckily the Vega Travel tour is one of a few operators that has a license to operate in parts of the bay that other’s can’t, meaning that we felt less crowded and a little closer to how the bay would have once felt.

As well as canoeing we stop off to visit Trong Cave (Drum cave) and Trinh Nu (Virgin Cave).

Again we have the chance to appreciate just some of the stunning scenery.