It is impossible to overstate the beauty of Halong Bay. This gorgeous area of thousands of limestone rocks and islands is awe-inspiring. It seemed like every minute I was gasping out loud and trying to take yet another picture. There is a reason it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and considered a new wonder of the world.
Taking a cruise is really the only way to go, to really take in all the beauty that surrounds you. It gives you the opportunity to get off the larger boat and be rowed into small floating villages tucked in behind rocks and meet the people who live there. You can also just jump off the boat and swim or kayak in certain areas.
Of course, this is a very popular tourist site, with cruise boats all around you. Even so, I found it very quiet and relaxing. Maybe because the boats themselves are river boats and quite small. More likely, it is because everyone on all those boats felt as serene as I did. It was foggy and rain much of the day and night that I was there, which in a strange way made it feel even more other-wordly.
One of the big attractions is Sunset Cave. You actually walk up 135 steps to get to the cave, and another 150 steps at the exit to come down, as it is situated high up in the rock. When you step inside, you are met with a somewhat small cave, that leads into another larger cave, and finally one huge cave (called Surprising Cave – because it’s size is such a surprise!). These three connecting caves are great fun to wander through.