Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sea kayaking in Halong Bay, Vietnam

Vietnam is a gorgeous country. Outside the city its very clean and the government also goes to alot of trouble to ensure the tourist districts in Hanoi (Lake Kiem district) and Saigon are also kept clean. Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City) is the main gateway to Vietnam, which is unfortunate because I think Hanoi is the crown in the jewels. For this reason consider approaching Hanoi by:
1. Transferring to a domestic airline in Saigon
2. Entering via an airline that flies to Hanoi, eg. Singapore Airlines, Korean Airlines, Thai Airways, etc
This might be an excuse for a stopover in another country.
My suggested itinerary is:
1. Stay at Lake Kiem: When you get to the airport in Hanoi, you will find its a long trip to the city. In fact this is one of the most remote airports in the world. Ask the driver to take you to the northern end of Lake Kiem in Hanoi. When you arrive seek out the backpacker district. Ask a foreigner or a street vendor where the budget accomodation is. Its all located in about 2-3 blocks extending north of the lake. You could pay $US5-15 per night.
2. Familiarise yourself with Hanoi: Go to Queens Cafe and book a 3-day tour to Catba Island, try a few of the local bars in the area.
3. Bus to Halong Bay - You can make your own way or join a Queens Cafe tour. You dont need to pay alot, there is cheap hotel accommodation in Halong Bay for $5-15/night. Great if you can take a tour that gets you to Catba Island. Cheap & clean accommodation there.
4. Sea kayaking on Halong Bay: See
5. Haiphong City: Get a ferry from Halong City to Haiphong City, and find accommodation there. I found Haiphong to host the nicest people you could meet.
6. Return Hanoi: Return for flight back to point of origin.
Andrew Sheldon