The last leg of my solo RTW adventure was to beyond beautiful Ha Long Bay. With plans to continue traveling after meeting up with friends from home the following week in Australia, Ha Long was the perfect place to end my solo journey and take a few days to reflect on the past several months I’d spent traveling: the people I’d met, the experiences I’d lived through, and the lessons I had (and hadn’t) learned…

Ha Long Bay was the last pillar on my list of World ‘Must-Sees’ and easily one of the most amazing places I’ve ever visited. Having grown up in Seattle I’ve always been a huge fan of boating, islands and, well, really anything to do with water, so arriving to Ha Long’s deep blue-green waters and amazing limestone rock formations was akin to rolling up to my own personal Disneyland.

The beauty of the place absolutely lives up to its reputation. They say the light that plays off the arching rocks throughout the bay is never the same; just being in the presence of such stunning real life imagery is humbling. An ancient fable tells of a prehistoric dragon sent from the gods to protect the Vietnamese people, crash landing and subsequently creating the surrounding limestone-karst towers rising out of the bay. Standing hillside overlooking the landscape and waters below, the tale is easy to believe.

The site was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994 and covers some 700 islands, most completely uninhabited and untouched by human presence.

Most people opt to spend one or two nights on a visiting junk tour boat. Besides swimming and kayaking there are also pearl farms to visit and massive cave systems to explore.

I highly recommend you avoid those tourist traps and instead spend as much time outside as you can appreciating the scenery. My favorite activities by day were kayaking and swimming in the warm emerald water, then relaxing on the boat deck at night watching the stars in the absolutely clear nightsky overhead.

From start to finish a visit to Ha Long Bay is a borderline ethereal experience, both relaxing and exhilarating at once, and an experience you’re sure to never forget.

Thanks for reading!

xo Carrie