vietnam
Visiting the sung sot cave in ha long bay

Every time I think back to my trip to Vietnam, I not only remember the delicious street food (omg Phở along the streets!) but also the 2D1N cruise on Ha Long Bay - one of the most incredible natural wonders i've seen. Those individual mountain like structures were made from the erosion of limestone caves and on the 2nd day of the cruise, we were allowed to visit one of these individual Mountain Cave Islands. The cave that we went to was the Hang Sửng Sốt (Sung Sot Cave).

p/s: I'm pretty sure it's not called a cave island, but the dock had an entrance to the cave and that was pretty much there is. You had to get tickets at the dock before you could even proceed towards the entrance of the cave - which seemed to be the only thing there! Hence why I'm calling it, cave island.

Hang sung sot cave entrance

The queue to the cave was pretty long, because there was only one entrance and a whole cruise ship of people. We had to climb up step by step while being mosquito baits until we got to the entrance. But lucky for Jerald and I, we were walking beside our cruise ship guide and so he gave us some background information about how these caves were formed, and how the erosions over the years gave them their current structure.

Even though it took a while to get into the cave, when we arrived at its entrance we soon realised, THE WAIT WAS WORTH IT.
The cave is huge and you literally gasps at the way the light hits the water and the limestone walls on the inside. The different shapes and textures of the cave, the way the rock bends and morphs from one type of arch to another is pretty incredible.

Inside of the sung sot cave and image of its walls
image of the hang sung sot cave in halong bay
The walls and textures of the limestone walls in the sung sot cave
image of the inside of the sung sot cave in vietnam while cruising on ha long bay

When our cruise guide told us about how these caves were made, I immediately thought of my secondary (15 year old) days, when I was learning about the formations of certain natural structures due to varying erosion rates of granite vs. limestone back in Geography lessons.

Oh how I LOVED geography.

The thing is, studying about it in books and on paper, it all seems pretty logical. Y'know, Normal. You could understand it. The way caves are formed, how a waterfall became a waterfall, the formation or rivers, gorges, and even how volcanoes erupt.
But when you see it with your own two eyes... oh my everything logical dissipates into thin air, and you're left thinking, "How did this happen? MOTHER NATURE YOU ARE WONDROUS."

Reflection of the lights in the interior of hang sung sot cave
Image of light Reflecting in the waters in the sung sot cave
Rocks and cave structure of the sung sot cave
Visiting the sung sot cave in vietnam, ha long bay cruise

This happens, every single time without fail. Be it exploring the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, Cruising down the Fjords of Norway, Visiting the underground Salt mine in Poland, and now visiting a cave in Vietnam. The way these caves and natural structures can exist on their own is beyond my imagination.
Beauty at it's best.

These pictures were taken by Jerald and edited by me.
I couldn't for the life of me find the pictures I took with my DSLR, which was really sad, and because I couldn't find those images, I have yet to talk about visiting hang sung sot on my blog, but because the cave was that beautiful, I couldn't help but keep thinking about it and reminding myself to share pictures and my experience.

Taking 2D1N cruise out to Ha Long Bay is something i'd definitely HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend when visiting Vietnam/Hanoi. And when you do visit the sung sot cave, remember to stop for a lovely view of Ha Long Bay after your cave visit (although that spot with the incredible view would probably be way too overcrowded!)

Cave Island (Hang Sửng Sốt) | Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

16 November 2015 Hạ Long Bay, Vietnam

Image of ha long bay vietnam

Remember my post on the Top 5 Things To Do in Hanoi? I mentioned in number 5 how going for a cruise on Ha Long Bay is one of the most common day trip / excursions to take whilst in Hanoi, Vietnam. I've never been on a cruise, unless you count my fjord cruise ride experience with Norway in A Nutshell, this was my first time sleeping on a bed in a boat. Of course, I was a bundle of excitement despite the fact that we had to wake up at 6, leave the hotel by 7.30am, and got news from the hotel staff that it has been rather stormy in Ha Long Bay.

Booking the Tour was really easy because our hotel offered several packages we could choose from (you can also find these packages online). We left the hotel around 7.30am in the morning on a bus with about 15 other people, and after a 4-hour drive, got to the port. On our way there, we passed by a shop selling all sorts of souvenirs, more importantly, there were selling hand woven cloth pictures done by the death and mute. This was a company that only hired these people so as to create jobs for them. Since I didn't have that much money, I bought a few small Cotton string woven ones instead of those done in Silk.

Eventually, we reached the port, and took a small boat to our cruise. Although the cruise ship was smaller than I had expected, our cruise was the most luxurious one because it was a partnership between 2 different companies. After getting our rooms, J and I immediately headed up to the deck to take some pictures before lunch was served. Thankfully, the weather was great, and the view was just stunning. It is no wonder Ha Long Bay is such a tourist favourite.

vietnam hand sewing image
image made by stiching on fabric
ha long bay port
different cruises at halong bay cruise port
view of ha long bay vietnam from the cruise
image of the cruise deck ha long bay vietnam
image of the cruise deck ha long bay vietnam


picture of ha long bay vietnam
photograph of ha long bay vietnam
pearl farm harvesting ha long bay vietnam


I was pleasantly surprised by all the various activities the tour had despite being only a short 2 day 1 night (technically it was only 1 day since we arrived on the boat in the afternoon and left then next afternoon) cruise. Our first island stop was this place called Ti Top Island where we could either climb up a small hill to get an awesome view of Ha Long Bay or have a swim in the waters by the beach. The water was actually rather dirty in my opinion, so I opted for the view instead. Although the steep stone steps were a challenge for my short legs, the view up on the top was INCREDIBLE.

After getting back from Ti Top Island, we went back on the boat to change and freshen up and had a short cooking class! It wasn't much of a Cooking Class than it was a cooking demonstration. But we did get a chance to roll our own Vietnamese Spring Rolls and then have them afterwards, so that was awesome!

In the evening, we had a short Kayaking Session where we could kayak around Ha Long Bay and then to a Pearl Farm there were loads of lovely pearl jewellery at the pearl farm, but sadly as I was kayaking on what seemed to be a rather unstable kayak, I left my valuables on the boat and so, there was no chance of me getting any pearl souvenirs. It was interesting to walk around the farm and see how they harvested the pearls, although I wished there was some sort of introduction or a tour.

Eventually, we headed back on the boat for dinner and spent the night on the deck attempting to count the stars of spot the lights from other cruise ships out on the bay.

Oh and Fun Fact: Our guide informed us that the reason why Ha Long Bay has this individual mountain like structure was because they were made out of limestone and got eroded over the years and are still being eroded slowly to this day! What an impressive natural phenomenon. I'm always impressed when I find out how mother nature forms these wonders.

visiting ti top island inha long bay vietnam

image of the beach ti top island
perfect view of the whole ha long bay vietnam
image of the amazing view ha long bay vietnam

cooking class on ha long bay cruise making vietnamese spring rolls
rolling vietnamese spring rolls
kayaking on ha long bay vietnam

ha long bay vietnam panorama image
image of the ha long bay vietnam at night

The Ha Long Bay cruise was surprisingly more entertaining that I though it would be. As it wasn't a huge cruise ship, I knew there wouldn't be any of your typical games room or entertainment facilities up on the boat. But the fact that there were a few fun activities planned for us throughout the entire time was great!

There was one thing I wasn't too pleased about though, was that I had an assignment to submit, and despite requesting for cruise with wifi - and we paid more for that, there wasn't any on board. Although the boat had a wifi modem, there was no way any of its guest could connect on to it. So it was incredibly agonising when I had to rush to submit my assignment the next day. Guess I should have thought about that before hand, I mean we're in the middle of a huge bay after all, what signal could there be right?
But judging the cruise for its activities, Ha Long Bay was definitely worth it and I really enjoyed myself!

Cruising UNESCO Site: Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

8 October 2015 Ha Long Bay, Hạ Long, tp. Hạ Long, Quảng Ninh Province, Vietnam

image of the whole hanoi lake

Hanoi's Hoàn Kiếm Lake is situated in the centre of the Vietnamese Capital, and is probably one of my favourite places in Hanoi. I'm sure many - locals and tourists — would agree that the Hoàn Kiếm Lake is one of the most peaceful and serene places in Hanoi.
Half the time we were walking along the streets of Hanoi, we were busy dodging motorcycles and cars and stressing out over crossing the streets. Having a clear pedestrian path to walk around the lake without the need to worry of oncoming vehicles was such a huge plus! It makes it so much more enjoyable. One can really walk at an idyllic place and appreciate the lake for its beauty.

As we were there in the later part of summer (perhaps early autumn) the weather was still pretty warm, and the flowers were in full bloom. Those orange, yellow and red hues added a nice lively contrast to the greenery all around the lake. From the MANY MANY couples we saw, to people wearing traditional Vietnamese hats, kids playing by the lake and families brunching in nearby cafés, people watching is something I couldn't help doing when we were by the lake.

When you're by the lake, don't forget to walk to the temple in the middle of it. Crossing a red bridge to get to the temple, and then getting a full view of the lake from the middle, is definitely something worth doing. We even spotted a man playing some traditional instrument by the pavilion in the temple!

pedestrian walkway by hanoi lake
vicinity of hanoi lake
image of a lady wearing vietnamese hat and picking trash
Flowers by the hanoi lake
ootd by the hanoi lake featuring clothes from bangkok
image of the lovely white cafe by the hanoi lake
temple structure in hanoi lake
image of the full view of hanoi lake
image of the hanoi lake temple
image of a girl playing the instrument in the temple near the hanoi lake
temple of the hanoi lake ootd
view of the hanoi lake from the temple in the middle of it
bridge near hanoi lake
the hanoi lake and temple

Peaceful. Calm. Tranquil.
Those adjectives best describe the experience one would have walking around Hanoi Lake. It is no wonder couples and even families enjoy hanging out by the lake, evading the chaos of the streets and enjoying the simple pleasures in life in the company of loved ones.

If you want to find out more of my Vietnam trip, check out my travel diary video and Vietnam Lookbook!

Couple's Hotspot: Hanoi Lake

5 October 2015 Hoàn Kiếm Lake, Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi, Vietnam

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