Today, we took a bus out to Halong Bay. It is only about ~170 kilometers away, but because of the limited infrastructure and traffic, it was a 4 hour journey. Interesting tidbit: the minimum wage in Vietnam is $150 a month and if you make >= $500 a month, you have to start paying taxes (even the economic philosophy is still a Communist point of view). Vehicles have a very high tax and if you buy and import a foreign vehicle, it is as much as a 300% tax!
I guess that is why the Mercedes AMG is not the classic 6.3 L engine models…
The road and infrastructure are limited, so you have to be patient for going long distances in Vietnam. The opportunity to cruise around the Halong Bay is definitely worth it. Supposedly, there are > 1,969 independent islands in the bay and it is one of the natural wonders of the world.
Just like in Hanoi, there are many small businesses. Most families around the country have a small business in just 10 square meters space and then their homes are above their stores. In Hanoi, the real estate prices are $50,000 per square meter.
I don’t think this fisherman pays that much for his shop here in Halong Bay.
Unfortunately, for some reason, the government makes every boat (known as a “junk”) to be painted white to make them look like cruise ships.
It was definitely a delight to spend 2 days and 1 night aboard one of these junks and explore the bay. It was unfortunately pouring though when we arrived at the pier.
We visited one of the islands and hiked up to the observation post which was a great workout.
And we also visited the famous “surprise” caves which were some amazing limestone caverns that existed on one of the islands.
I would have to say that this is one of the most popular destinations that we have seen in Vietnam so far. If you visit, it is definitely a “must see”.