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Where do you take your Mum in Vietnam, when she’s only here for 3 weeks, and there are so many incredble places to see!?

As one of the Seven Natural Wonders Of The World, Ha Long Bay is a perfect getaway for absolutely anyone, whether you’re with family, friends or spouses. It’s unlike anywhere else in the world and there is a high volume of boat companies who tailor their tours to suit their clientele.

Ha Long Bay is not unfamiliar territory to me. In fact this is my fourth trip, and yet each visit has been a completely unique and thoroughly enjoyable experience. Realising my Mum probably wouldn’t enjoy the booze Castaway Tour sold by Hanoi Backpackers Hostel, we instead organised a more “luxurious” tour with Phoenix, who offered several customizable packages and itineraries. We chose the Ha Long Bay & Cat Ba Discovery package, which allowed us an overnight stay on board, and an overnight stay in an eco lodge, surrounding by lush forestry, in Cat Ba. This trip was absolutely perfect.

Our boat was beautiful with a large upper deck, large cabin bedrooms with huge windows offering a stunning view of the bay, a comfortable and spacious dining room area with bar, where we were given a feast for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a vast variety of meat and vegetarian dishes which we shared with others on our table. As we dined, we were able to admire the bay as we gracefully sailed through the waters.

As the sun set, we stood on the warm wooden deck, the warm breeze rustling our hair, the sound of water splashing playfully below and the pink and lilac sky surrounding us like a silk sheet.

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Our unique itinerary took us to an island where we were able to snorkel and admire the stunning array of colours within the diverse fish population. Later we were taken to Sung Sot Cave, the most famous and popular cave in Ha Long Bay, situated on Bo Hon Island and only accessible with the ascent of a hundred steep steps surrounded by foliage and trees. Though the climb may be a struggle for some in the heat and humidity, the panoramic views along the way make it all worthwhile. Inside, there are a number of chambers, leading deeper within the cave, all featuring a number of magnificent stalagmites and stalactites stretching from floor to ceiling, many of them joining together and creating a pillar. Colourful lighting dotted around only adds to the dramatic nature of the cave. The following day gave us the freedom to kayak peacefully around the bay, past secluded beaches, lagoons, and take in the scenery at our own leisure, before returning our kayaks to one of the floating fishing villages. In other free time, we were able to go swimming or sunbathe on the top deck of the boat.

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In the afternoon of our second day, we were taken to Cat Ba Island and driven by bus to the eco lodge we would be staying at, nestled within lush, verdant green forestry and hills. Though the rooms were beautiful, we discovered the hard way that there are often bats residing in there with you with might make a few surprise appearances while you’re watching TV.

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Around the lodge are a number of activities you can indulge in, including cycling around the national park area, relaxing in the hidden hammocks within the gardens, trek through the forests, go fishing, or do some yoga. Sadly as the rains set in for us we were confined to our lodgings due to possible flooding. When we were taken back to the main land the next day, we were taken a different route on a hydrofoil speedboat, before greeting our bus driver who took us back to Hanoi.

Such a wonderful experience.

I’d love to hear where others take their parents on holiday!

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