My trip to Ha Long Bay, Vietnam: Visiting Surprise Cave and How to Get Back
Have you ever been to a cave? Where did you go? On the last day of our cruise, we were woken at 7 am by the staff. After breakfast, we headed to the "Cave of Surprise" (Sung Sot) one of the most famous caves in Ha Long Bay. The explorers who discovered this cave were so surprised when they found it that they named it the "Cave of Surprise".
We arrived at Bo Hon Island, where the cave is located, at 8 am. Can you see the cave entrance? How surprising could it be? I wondered.
We climbed up about one hundred stone steps to get there. Luckily I had comfy shoes on. The view on the way up was my reward for the effort. 😄
Entering a small entrance, we had no idea it was so big inside. “Surprise!” You can see the entrance has natural light, but inside the cave were artificial lights.
The cave is natural limestone, filled with spectacular formations of stalactites and stalagmites.
We were walking on what was once the seabed. How would that make you feel?
The ceiling was built over time by ocean waves pushing the seabed upward. The highest ceiling in the cave reaches up to 30 meters/ 98 feet high. Would you like to visit this cave?
There were some handrails and lighting had been added. Some of the areas were illuminated with different colored lights to highlight their features.
We were guided along the paved path to witness Mother Nature's work over millions of years.
Yes, the cave has been altered for tourists. We can take our family of three generations here to have an interesting experience together and everyone can make it. Kids love the colorful lights and seniors can enjoy the beautiful cave without too much of a physical challenge.
The sheer size of the cave and the natural sculptures left everyone in awe. There was one spot where an opening in the roof let natural light into the cave.
It took about 30 minutes to explore.
We exited the cave feeling good!
There was a viewing platform that gave a beautiful view of the Ha long Bay islets.
We walked down the stairs back to the boat, keeping an eye on the magnificence of nature along the way.
8:45 am. Time to go back to our cruise ship and begin checking out. After that, we'll enjoy brunch as we cruise back to the port and end our journey.
But we didn’t leave Ha Long Bay just yet. We took a taxi to a hotel close to Bai Chay bridge and stayed for another day, to relax on solid ground and enjoy the Bai Chay bridge “light show” from the hotel,
and enjoy this beautiful view.
The next morning after breakfast, we took a taxi to Cat Bi airport in Hai Phong city for the afternoon flight back to Sai Gon (Ho Chi Minh city). We chose to fly to and from Hai Phong city because it’s closer to Ha Long Bay than Ha Noi. We got there on time and got our seats. So far so good!
The plane supposed to come get us didn’t arrive. We waited but the flight was delayed. We kept waiting but it was delayed again and again. It turned out there was a storm coming and wasn't safe for landing and taking off at the small airport. The more flights got delayed, the more crowded the waiting area became. We were trying to get seats on the next possible flight. Everybody was unhappy, some lost their patience and shouted at the staff, some of the staff members lost their temper and responded the same way. It got dark and we hoped to fly back that night. No plane arrived and no one told us when the next flight could be. At midnight, they told us there was no flight that night and we should come back the next day.
My husband and I walked out of the airport with heavy hearts. We didn’t know the area. We found a taxi and told him to take us to any hotel nearby. He took us to a small local 3-star hotel. We paid for the room and gave the man at the front desk our passports. Riding the elevator up to our room, I was smiling because I was about to take a SHOWER. Haha.
The key didn’t work, the door didn’t open. “What is going on? What will happen to us? What if…” My heart was pounding as I was thinking about the unusual look of the man behind the front desk. He seemed drunk or on drugs or something. We went back downstairs returned the key and got our money back.
There we were holding our luggage, looking for a taxi at about 1 am in an unfamiliar city. Luckily we found one, told the driver to take us to a nice big corporate hotel where we could feel safe and sleep soundly. He kindly took us to the "Pearl River Hotel" and everything went smoothly there. We went to bed finally around 2 am. Yay!
Having breakfast at 9 am, we were the only couple there. Isn't that strange?
My best smile at the time. Can you tell what was on my mind? “Can we fly back today?” Of course.
10 am, it was still raining heavily. We called the taxi service to take us back to the airport, but no taxi came. I was standing in front of the hotel to look for one because we were running out of time. “What if we miss the flight today?” asked myself. You know that’s not fun, right?
We arrived at the Cat Bi airport a little late. Oops! Then learned that we had to take a 4-hour bus ride to Noi Bai airport in Ha Noi which we were trying to avoid. It’s a bigger airport and we boarded a big plane, like the ones for international flights, which flew us back to Sai Gon. Phew!
So flying to Hai Phong was not a good idea! Who am I to think I knew better than the locals? Haha
Our trip didn't end on a positive note but worth it. Less comfort, more life! 😉
Thanks so much for reading, my friends.
Have a great weekend!