Small, shiny, and sophisticated, pearls have long been viewed as women’s best friend even up to this modern age. Despite the arguably high price tag that usually comes along with it, there’s no doubt that pearls are still one of the perfect gifts women could ever receive from someone. But have you ever wondered why these gorgeous stones are highly valued by many, especially the powerful and the affluent? And what more if they find out that some pearls are exclusively harvested hidden far beyond the big cities in a UNESCO World Heritage Site like Halong Bay? Read further to find out.
The White Pearls of Halong Bay
Halong Bay’s only pearl farm located just behind Sung Sot Cave or more commonly known as the Surprise Cave, the Tung Sau Pearl Farm attracts mainly midrange to high-end tourists who join the 3-day tour cruises that come from Tuan Chau Marina; these including Bhaya Cruises, Au Cruises, and Legend Halong Cruises.
It was in 1995 when the first pearl village of Halong Bay was founded by a Japanese organization. After its success amongst the pearl production industry and tourism, the operations were then passed on to the Vietnamese.
These 30 hectares of property equipped with 3,000 cages of seafood for eating and selling that are currently managed and owned by Halong Pearl Join Stock Company, the pearl farm cruise guests are able to witness the painstaking process of growing, harvesting, and extracting pearls from the first step to the last using a traditional Vietnamese process backed up with an advanced Japanese technology for the whole cultivation. In addition to the briefing on how to grow and cultivate these precious pearls, the tour also includes a small lecture on what kinds of pearls there are; the Akoya pearls, Tahiti pearls, and the South Sea pearls; their differences, how long it takes to harvest each kind, and why the prices differ from each other, making it a truly educational activity even for those who are not big fans of jewelry.
The tour also includes a step-by-step demonstration on how to harvest, know-hows, and must-dos when harvesting and producing these treasured gems from scratch.
As for the local people that work here on a daily basis, there are about 40 of them in total with ages 18 to 40 years and come from at least 40 different provinces from across the nation. Amongst these workers, 25 of them live on the mainland whilst the rest stay on the farm to take care of the place during nighttime.
Their lifestyle, on the other hand, can be easily compared as to those who are in the floating fishing villages since they mainly survive by getting their basic resources from the mainland, such as freshwater and some food supplies. Accommodation is provided, but they would have to share with their coworkers, the women having their own designated and separate areas from the men of course.
Your Ultimate Guide
a. How do I join this activity?
Generally, the Pearl Farm visit is available as part of a package on both overnight cruises and three-days & two-nights cruise itineraries. But for Bhaya Cruises, including Au Co and Legend, this excursion is only included in the three-days itinerary so as each guest will have more time to enjoy the site and have an in-depth understanding of the pearl-making process from the locals. Thus, more time as well to enjoy the scenery with your loved ones and ideal for taking photos.
b. How much is the entrance fee?
Like some of the other destinations in Halong Bay, entry fee to the Tung Sau Pearl Farm costs a mere 30,000VND (just a bit over US$1). But since your best option on getting here is only through booking a cruise itinerary, then you need not to worry about leaving an extra dollar or two for entering its premises as this is already included in the tour package.
c. When is the best time to visit?
This question is a bit tricky as it will all depend on the person taking the tour and his or her preferences. If you’re the type of person who likes getting baked under the extreme Asian summer weather, then the perfect time for you to visit is from May to September. For a much subtle weather, but still sunny outside and can have a clear-blue sky, then September to November would be great timing. As for those who likes it cool, breezy, and misty, then winter time (from December to February) would be superb. April on the other hand varies on the weather forecast. But it should be calm and quiet.
Throughout the year though, just be reminded that between months from July to November (and sometimes December), the weather can be unpredictably uncooperative. Storms and strong winds may rather pop up anytime in those months and all cruise tours are usually cancelled by the tourism management board of Halong Bay, sometimes just a few hours before the disembarkation time. Generally, though, it’s not much to worry about as the top cruise companies in Halong Bay, including Bhaya Group acts fast in these kinds of situations.
d. Anything else interesting to do while we’re here?
In fact, yes. After the excursion is over, passengers will be taken on a floating platform next to the pearl farm for a once-in-a-lifetime experience of dining by the bay, completed by a traditional style of Vietnamese cuisine while overlooking the soaring karst formations of the islands and islets that make up world wonder Halong Bay.
e. What do I wear?
For your safety and comfort, we highly recommend you to be as comfortable as possible. This activity will require you to go on a tender boat, wear life jackets, walk on narrow floating docks, ride on bamboo boats, and even use kayaks. So, make sure you pack your most comfy swim shorts, light cotton shirts, windbreakers, and sneakers. Basic rule is, the lighter the better. Depending on the weather also, you might want to put on some sunscreen and creams as summers in the northern region can be excruciating. A good mosquito repellent would be helpful as well. Other than that, a jumper or a sweatshirt is advisable during the cooler seasons.
f. How do I get there?
Getting here is actually not as difficult as you may imagine. The best way to do is book a flight to Hanoi, spend a few days in the capital to discover the history and culture of traditional Vietnam, and book a three-day cruise itinerary with Bhaya, Au Co, or Legend cruises, depending on what kind of boat you’d like to go with. From Hanoi, the drive takes about 3.5-4 hours to get to world-renowned Halong Bay. And since the transfers from Hanoi to Halong Bay and back and the visit to the Pearl Farm are already included in the package tour, there’s nothing else to think about.
Bhaya: The Cruise Company
Started from one man’s vision to deliver excellent and upscale services while showcasing the true elegance of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Halong Bay through sustainable methods, Bhaya Group spearheaded the luxury cruising industry, which also started the revolution of high-end travel in Vietnam.
Commencing their first fleet, the Bhaya Cruises in 2007, and achieving massive success in just a short period of time, Bhaya Group saw the opportunity of the market and the destination and continued to work hard in launching three other elite brands of fleet: The Au Co Luxury Cruise, the Bhaya Legend Private Cruise, and the Bhaya Classic & Premium Cruises; all of which represent strategically assigned market segments for each boat.
For more information and enquiries about the Bhaya Cruises, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the hotline at (+84) 933 44 6542.