Ha Long Bay is definitely not to be missed while travelling the classic South East Asia Loop. With the karst mountains rising up out of the water, it just looks so mystical. Also Ha Long means “descending dragon.” How cool does that sound?!
I only spent a day in Ha Long, but in hind sight, I kind of wish I had spent more time. It was kind of a pain in the ass getting all the way out and back in one day, but omg, it was so beautiful! There are a lot of costs associated with visiting Ha Long Bay, like getting all the way out there, and then you have to pay for a boat tour no matter what, even if it is just a couple of hours. You have to see the bay by boat. There is no other option. And if you want to stay overnight, you basically stay on a houseboat. We chose not to stay for a night because it was pretty pricey, plus we were kind of stressed on time, but in hind sight, I wish I had spent the money to stay for a night because, this place is incredible, and when else would I be there!
Our day trip was still awesome though. We boated around the bay, and got to kayak through some of the caves too!