Cruise Deals, Information and Cruise Updates

Halong Bay

After enjoying breakfast it was time to depart Hanoi - destination Halong Bay. We boarded our motorcoach with our guide Thom for the four hour ride to this spectacular region in Vietnam. The ride was pleasant, the motorcoach was comfortable and Thom even set up a wireless hotspot for us from his phone. We stopped along the way at a market about half way. It was worth the drive as Halong Bay is simply magical.

Halong Bay Floating Market Halong Bay is made up of more than 2,000 small islands that rise up from the bay. These limestone outcroppings were created by the sea over 500 million years ago and are a sight to behold. We boarded a traditional Vietnamese junk boat for our overnight cruise around Halong Bay and after settling into our cabins we were welcomed aboard with a wonderful lunch. During the afternoon we tendered to a private beach and took in the scenery of this amazing place and enjoyed the cool waters which was a refreshing break from Vietnam's heat and humidity. In the morning we rose early (around 6AM) and enjoyed a light breakfast surrounded by other traditional junk boats, fishing boats and floating markets. In Halong Bay you don't go to the convenience store, the convenience store comes to you.

Beach on Halong Bay

Hang Sung Sot Caves At about 7:30 we tendered to the Hang Sung Sot caves. Known as the Cave of Surprises, the Hang Sung Sot caves were discovered in 1901 by a French explorer. The climb to the top is quite steep (about a hundred steps) but it's worth the trip. Once you get to the top you enter the first of two chambers filled with thousands of stalactites and stalagmites. A narrow passageway brings you into the second and even larger chamber. The caves are lit by spotlights highlighting their natural beauty. Going down was certainly easier than going up and is great practice for the temples of Angkor Wat. After debarking the junk boat we boarded the bus for the Hanoi to catch our flight to Siem Reap. En route we stopped for lunch at Chi Linh Country Club and arrived at the airport for our 5:30PM flight to Siem Reap. Next stop Cambodia.

Hanoi Temple of Literature

Our journey began as we departed for Seoul en route to Hanoi, Vietnam. The fourteen hour flights was long but after three movies and a sleeping pill we arrived at our interim destination feeling relatively refreshed. After searching for our connecting flight we found that typhoon Kalmaegi proceeded us and was bearing down on Hanoi. Given the circumstances our flight was cancelled and we got to enjoy an unexpected overnight in Seoul. It worked out pretty well and gave a chance to get over our jetlag before catching a morning flight to Hanoi. After a 4AM wake-up call we regrouped and headed back out to the airport. Destination Hanoi!

Hanoi Street Vendor The first part of our trip was part of an AMA Waterways Mekong cruise tour. Even with the flight cancellations we were met at the airport and transferred the luxurious Sofitel Metropole Hotel. Built in classic French colonial style this property features beautiful rooms and exceptional service. Located in the heart of the city's French Quarter the Metropole is an oasis amidst the bustling and frenetic city. Hanoi is one of the oldest cities in SE Asia and it just recently celebrated its 1000 anniversary. Hanoi literally translate as "Ascending Dragon".

Ho Chi Minh MausoleumEven though we arrived a day late, our guides made sure that we got to see most of the highlights of this beautiful city. After checking in we met our group for a motorcoach tour which included Ho Chi MInh's mausoleum, the temple and Ho Lo Prison. Unfortunately the mausoleum was closed for maintenance so we could only view the exterior as we started to learn about Vietnam's history. We then went to the Temple of Literature. Established in 1070 and founded to honor Confucius, the Temple of Literature is one of the oldest structures in Hanoi. It is made up of five courtyards and served as a center of higher learning for more than seven centuries. The tour ended a Ho Lo Prison. Ho Lo Prison was first used by the French colonists in Vietnam for political prisoners and later by North Vietnam for prisoners during the Vietnam war. Ho Lo Prison became know to Americans as the Hanoi Hilton.

Hanoi StreetsThe traffic in Hanoi is crazy and after taking a rickshaw ride through the city you may say that it is an understatement . The rickshaw ride was wild. Thousands of mopeds, cars and busses all speeding along in every direction at once with no lights or stop signs and amazingly no accidents. It takes a while to master the art of crossing the street as a pedestrian. The key is to walk slowly across the street without stopping or going backward. Amazingly the traffic simply goes around you. The final part of the tour was to see a traditional water puppet show which tells the story of ancient Vietnamese folklore through vibrant, animated puppets and traditional music.

Our long and exciting day was followed by dinner at a restaurant called Cao Go where we enjoyed a traditional Vietnamese meal overlooking the Hoan Kiem Lake before falling into our oh so comfortable beds back at the Metropole.

Control panel