The major city in North Vietnam is Hanoi and it is definitely worth a visit for one day, once. It is three hours inland. Staying at Halong Bay makes for a much more relaxing and exjoyable day.
We have now visited Halong Bay four times and it is still a great day and gorgeous. However it is getting so run over with tourists that it is just not the same. In fact it is reported that they are in jeopardy of losing their UNESCO World Heritage Site designation because of careless disregard for the ecological needs.
It was a madhouse when we were there yesterday.with an estimated 30,000 tourists bumping along together on the boats that seem to occupy the entire water. At the port there was way too much pushing, showing, delays and other aggravating travelers issues that you just don’t expect in this part of the world.
Official Vietnamese (entire country) tourism numbers have shown annual visitors up from just over 500,000 people 15 years ago to over 15,000,000 this year. About two thirds are from China.
There still were many peaceful sights.
Besides the natural water beauty and their 2,000 islands, it is fun and interesting to visit the wonderful caves.
This picture that Allyn took just four years ago shows the peaceful, beautiful Halong Bay that I fondly remember.