There’s a reason people come to Ha Long Bay. It’s absolutely stunning. Islands of lush green mountains ascend out of the water as far as the eye-can-see. Close your eyes and imagine what it would have been to be the first people to have sailed into this bay. It’s magical and filled with wonder.
Now take that picture and add 100 cruise ships. There’s a little something lost.
This kind of over-tourism was especially noticed by Rose who had been to Ha Long Bay eight years earlier where she took a cruise with her sister and the experience was much different.
It was less crowded, less commercialized, and there were way more opportunities to get off the boat and onto the islands. BUT it was also dirtier and the water was filled with garbage.
In recent years, there has been an effort to clean up the water (no plastic bottles or bags allowed on any of the boats by tour operators or individual tourists) and to conserve the small islands. But this also means that the few islands you can visit are absolutely overrun with people.
So we’re in a catch-22. We want to see these amazing places, take photos, and enjoy the incredible views but we know that we are the very people actively contributing to the over-tourism problem. We know we can find greener options while travelling and find more exciting off-the-beaten-track places to visit, but there’s still some of those iconic places we want to see. Places like Hanoi’s train street or Thailand’s Maya Bay.
So, what do you do? We don’t have all the answers, but it is something that we’re keeping in mind as we plan our future travels.
What are your tips for better tourism? Leave them down below!
Check out our most recent post from Southeast Asia about Hanoi’s Beer Corner.