Ha Long Bay is about a 4 hour drive from Hanoi, and has the most beautiful and amazing rock formations coming up from the water. We did a 3 day, 2 night tour with two nights aboard a Chinese style junk, which is the standard way to tour the place. Our junk was laughably bad in parts (like the ‘honeymoon special’ rose petals floating in the bathroom sink, which we then had to clean out, or the bizarrely sweet and not particularly Vietnamese pumpkin soup), but the place is so lovely and scenic that as long as your ship doesn’t sink it’s hard to not have a good time.
We spent a lot of time kayaking and cruising around the bay, which is massive – even with a huge number of junks in the bay, once you move away from the main mooring areas it feels like you’re the only ones out there. It’s a bit sad to see the effect that the tourism boom is having on the place though – there’s a lot of chip packets and cans floating in the water, and when I asked the guide at one point if he thought the water was clean enough to swim in (the suggested activity at the time) he shook his head. I really hope the growing popularity of Ha Long Bay doesn’t destroy its beauty.