After a luxurious night of sleep in our cabin on the Dragon Legend, we woke ready for a day of adventure. On Day Two of our cruise, we'd be visiting two dream beaches, exploring a limestone cave, and kayaking around the hills of Ha Long Bay.
Located about 30 minutes north of Ninh Binh, the Vân Long Nature Reserve protects one of Northern Vietnam's largest unspoiled natural areas. Visitors can take a boat tour to see a small section of the park, and possibly spot the elusive, endangered Delacour's Langurs which call it home.
If you're looking for an unforgettable view of the karst hills south of Ninh Binh, you might want to skip on the popular boat tour of Tam Cốc, and instead seek out Hang Múa. Over 400 steps will bring you to the top of a mountain, from where you'll be able to see the unique landscape in all its glory.
Located a few kilometers north of Tam Cốc, the mountainside complex of Bích Động consists of three temples arranged in a vertical order. A climb to the upper pagoda is rewarded by magnificent views over the region. Bích Động was established in 1428 by two Buddhist monks from Ninh Binh, who recognized the area for its natural beauty. They built three pagodas at different heights on the mountain, making use of the limestone caves and recesses in…
Deeper into the Phong Nha National Park, and much more difficult to reach than the park's eponymous cave, the Paradise Cave is even more spectacular. There are no boat rides, this time, just a path twisting through grand chambers filled with some of the most massive underground formations we've ever seen.
Phong Nha Cave isn't the biggest cave, or even the second-biggest, in the Phong Nha National Park. But it's the one which bears the park's name. So we felt safe assuming that it would be spectacular. And we weren't disappointed; this is an underground wonderland of stunning beauty.
We spent four nights in the Phong Nha National Park, which is home to more than 300 caves including, incredibly, two of the world's three largest. On our first full day in the park, we embarked on a long hike through the forest to visit two of the regular-sized caves, one of which we'd be swimming through.
Five large hills look completely out of place along the otherwise-flat coastline between Danang and Hoi An. These are the Marble Mountains, each named for a different element: Thủy (Water), Hỏa (Fire), Thổ (Earth), Kim (Metal) and Mộc (Wood). They were once mined for rock, and a number of stone workshops are still found in the area, but today the mountains are a popular tourism destination.