Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Best choice to discover Ha Long.

A legendary voyage with Huong Hai junk.

Proud to be the leader in cruising the green water of Halong Bay, royal junks with oriental style take visitors to the most spectacular spots.

Decorated with wood and bamboo, the junk's interior is both cozy and charming. With seating for 14, the dining room is intimate, giving the passengers a chance to get acquainted. Write wine seems appropriate for this festival occasion, we toast our voyage and delve into the seafood which Quang Ninh province is famous.

Away from the coast, the fresh smell of salt fills the air. The captain now orders his crew to hoist the sails, which stand out a deep purple against the blue sky. Accompanied by the sound of the wind on the sails, we make our way past towering dark green islands asmy sterious and fantastically shaped as fairytale castles. The upper deck is the perfect, breezy place to sunbathe or scan die magnificent scenery. Then, we cruise towards small piers, where we disembark to visit spectacular caves. Huong Hai Junk is the best choice to discover Ha Long in your Vietnam Travel trip

The captain now turns the Huong Hai towards Bai Tu Long Bay and hoists the sails. The junk anchors some where near Cat Ba - Hai Phong. At about 9 p.m, we board small bamboo boats and start to catch fish and crabs. It's midnight when we pull up to the junk. The crew cooks op our caught fish, squid, crabs and shrimp. This food, which we caught ourselves, tastes even better than usual.

In a single day on Halong Bay, we saw and experienced so much while we must now return to Hanoi, we all take some of the bay's magic with us. Rightly or wrongly, Huong Hai junks are known for their claims to be Halong's only wonderful junk.

Ha Long tourism: want for improvement

There are three standards to identify whether tourism in an area is successful or not. First is the number of tourists, second is the average amount of money each visitor spends in that area and the last is the number of high class tourists.

It’s wrong if we only base on the number of foreign visitors to one place in general to say that the tourism of the area is successful. The amount of money visitors spend in using services in that place ensures the success of its tourism. The amount that wealthy people spend in Vietnam during a one week stay sometimes is more than the amount spent by a large number of backpackers who would stay for several days. I would say it is necessary for Vietnam to aim at attracting these high class tourists.

Where do you think Vietnam's position is in the world tourism map?

Vietnam has rich tourism potential as a country with a very interesting history. Vietnam first became known as a country affected by a lot of war, which the Vietnamese people have suffered. Vietnam is also gifted by beauty. When seeing these as part of its tourism competitiveness, Vietnam won’t have to worry about its regional rivals. However, it is left behind by its rivals in terms of the quality of services it provides.

Far and away

After disembarking the Indochina Sails Junk onto a smaller wooden boat, we sail towards the shore of Ngoc Vung Island along with my fellow travellers and a bunch of mountain bikes. We are off for a cycling tip across this mysterious island which sits amongst the awe inspiring Halong archipelago. Ngoc Vung (Mother Pearl) island is 50km from Halong City’s Wharf.

Once all around the island you could plunge below and find a plethora of pearls, hence the name ‘Mother Pearl’ island. The island is 12 square kilometers in area with over 1,000 inhabitants living mainly off fishing, farming, aquaculture and afforesting.

“If you see the island from helicopter, Ngoc Vung looks like a beautiful velvet handkerchief with white edging,” says the captain of Huong Hai junk. “It seems to be floating on the water’s surface.” “Once upon a time, when night fell, the island would have been illuminated by the incandescent pearls below,” he continues, lost in his own happy reverie. Too bad, I reflect, that these finite ocean treasures have been plundered.

After we arrive at the island’s small wharf we grab our bikes and prepare to cycle to the east side of the island where we’ve been promised we will find deserted beaches. We take a coastal road that skirts the island’s hilly terrain. The road is spectacular. There is never a chance to get bored with stunning views of land and sea.

Boat adventure in bay of island wonders

Emeraude Classic Cruises arranges adventures for lovers of nature, sea and sunshine to immerse themselves in the amazing beauty of UNESCO-listed Ha Long Bay in the northern province of Quang Ninh.

There, on the decks of the Emeraude, you fall into a fairy tale world of over 3,000 mountainous islands and rocky islets which have been shaped by nature into unique wonders and landscapes.

The emerald water of the bay slapping against the 56 meter long ship and gentle winds coming from different directions drive you into a world of relaxation and excitement.

The Emeraude’s 101st anniversary is drawing near, and tickets are now available for special anniversary cruises planned for July 2 to 8. Tickets are US$101 for two people sharing a superior cabin to view the beauty of the bay whose name means “Descending Dragon.”

The journey through the bay takes in the world-famous karst formations at a leisurely pace, and lets guests enjoy their beauty from the comfort of the ship’s decks.

Wonderful caves and pristine beaches await you off the classical cabins and decks of the ship, which is a convincing reproduction of a 19th-century paddle wheel steamer with polished wooden floors and brass fixtures recalling colonial grandeur and old-fashioned luxury.

Last month, the Emeraude ran the third annual wine cruise, sweeping guests off their feet with wine, dancing and the beauty of the bay. “People are sometimes surprised to find things like tai chi classes, mojitos, and DJs playing salsa tunes on a ship that looks a century old, but it’s the combination of the modern and the classic that bring people back to the Emeraude again and again,” Emeraude general manager Kurt Walter commented after the wine cruise.

Emeraude Classic Cruises is not the only organizer of bay cruises as the Huong Hai Company now has packages on a wooden junk that takes in one of Vietnam’s World Heritage Sites.

The Huong Hai junk usually casts off at 12.45pm from Ha Long Pier and a lunch of seafood specialties comes after guests have cooled down with a welcoming drink