This week, we venture back to Asia for a taste of exotic flavors and sights. Today’s guest post is from David Jr of Malaysia Asia blog, an online resource on all things Southeast Asian. Here, he shares with us some essential things to do at one of his favorite spots in Asia – Halong Bay, Vietnam.
Almost every traveler who visits Southeast Asia makes it a point to visit Halong Bay: a picturesque bay set amidst emerald waters and craggy limestone cliffs. Next to Ho Chi Minh City, Halong Bay is right up the list of must-see destinations for travelers in the region.
Flickr photo by qureyoon
So what can one do around Halong Bay besides taking that once-in-a-lifetime cruise into the UNESCO World Heritage site here? Fear no more as I had one extra day around Halong City when I visited Halong Bay, Vietnam recently. So here are 5 things you can do around Halong Bay if you have time to kill waiting for your junk boat cruise.
Bai Chay Tourist Wharf and Jetty
Bai Chay Tourist Wharf. It is here that most of the travelers will arrive at before heading out on the Halong Bay Overnight Cruise. Depending on your departure time, you may or may not have time to explore the area.
Try some Vietnamese Coffee the Cafe 555 opposite the Bai Chay Tourist Wharf. Well, you need to walk about 100 meters to your right if you exit Bai Chay. The cafe is located in between a row of shops by the main road. They serve some potent coffee here so if you are a coffee lover, you hit jackpot here. If you don’t drink coffee, they have other drinks there too.
Karaoke anytime of the day
Try the Cafe Kinh Moi Karaoke just further down the road from Cafe 555. Start your karaoke sessions early if you must here. Singing is inside but if you so desire to do it outside, by all means.
Take a taxi to Halong City and visit the Halong Market. This market is right in the heart of Halong City and you cannot walk there unless you have a few hours to spare. Best would be to take a taxi there. Once here, explore the dry and wet market. A number of interesting items can be seen here while it would be wise to stock up on snacks and drinks for your Halong Bay Cruise.
Vietnamese Snacks and Herbal Drinks
Indulge in the local Vietnamese food and drinks at Halong City. In and around the Halong Market, there are quite a number of exotic foods available if you are up to it. One of the must-try items are the Squid Cakes which are similar to Thai Fish Cakes, these are sold in the open area behind Halong Market.
A number of stalls sell them and they are reasonably cheap and quite tasty. If you walk around the wet market area, you will come across various local foods and delicacies. One of them, the deep fried mini crabs sold cooked or raw. Also, if you have an iron stomach, try some of the local mixed rice dishes and finally wash it down with some local Vietnamese Herbal Drinks. Don’t forget to buy some local fruits for your Halong Bay Overnight Cruise trip.
Halong Bay Casino
Take a walk to the Halong Bay Casino (Royal International Casino). This super small and only casino in Halong Bay can be seen just located by the main road to Bai Chay. Walking here can take you about 10-15 minutes from the wharf. Foreigners need to show your passport to enter and there is no deposit required.
A coffee lounge with slot machines on the ground floor is open to all while there are two gambling halls, one on the ground floor which is closed on weekdays while the main hall is up on the first floor. So small that I walked round it in less than two minutes. So if you’re feeling lucky, head on to the Halong Bay Casino.
David Jr is the editor and writer for Malaysia Asia, a travel blog site that focuses on eco-tourism, nature, culture, heritage, UNESCO sites, islands and beaches around Malaysia and Southeast Asia. Having 23 years of travel experience, his travels have taken him to most places around the world but for now, David chooses to focus around Southeast Asia.