Halong Bay, Vietnam 25th Apr - 27th Apr

Trip Start Dec 13, 2012
Trip End Apr 02, 2014

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Thursday, April 25, 2013


We took a 1 hour flight to Hanoi instead of the dreaded 15 hour train journey, and the two actually cost the same! After spending a night in Hanoi we got picked up early the next morning for our 3 day 2 night cruise along Halong Bay.

Halong Bay is a protected world heritage site and is 1500 square kilometres in size. There are thousands of jagged rocky islands sticking out of the water throughout the area which is what makes it so spectacular to see.

The Trip

After getting onto our boat we checked into our room. It was much nicer than we had expected with a wooden furnished interior and a giant power shower - much nicer than the basic hotel rooms we have been staying in!

We had lunch while cruising along Halong Bay admiring the view and then arrived at our first stop – "Amazing Cave". We entered through a small opening up some steps and inside was very impressive. It was enormous and was all lit up by different coloured lights. It looked like something out of The Goonies!

After that we got into Kayaks and spent some time paddling around the bay exploring it for ourselves. That was the first time both of us had been kayaking and it was fun! We could get right up close to the rocks and paddle around them.

In the evening we had dinner, a few drinks and attempted squid fishing! The back of the boat shines out a light into the water and the luminous bate on the end of the rod attract the squid. Neil caught one!! The squid caught were all put into a bowl and were cooked up for lunch the following day.

The next morning we visited a pearl farm. This was interesting to see as they had all the steps of the production line to see with people busy at work. The oysters are grown for 18 months and then are pulled up and a ball is inserted into them made from their own shells. The oyster is then put back into the water for another 18 months to give them time to turn this ball into a pearl. They said there is a 30% chance of the balls actually turning into saleable pearls – tough business!

We then swapped over to another smaller boat to continue our journey to an island called Monkey Island. It was supposed to have monkeys on it but we didn't see any. We went for a walk up a rocky mountain to have a look at the view and then chilled on the beach for a while.

After that we got taken to another island that had bungalows for people to stay there, a bar, pool table, volleyball nets etc. We had 3 hours of free time there so we decided to go for another Kayak. We paddled around to the other side of the island and saw some people rock climbing and wake boarding. There were so many island rocks in the water with their own beaches, some with resorts on, some completely bare. Everything in the area looked very similar – it would be pretty easy to get lost around there, it was like a maze!

After our free time we then got back onto the boat and went to another island called Cat Ba. This was a much bigger island with a town on it and we spent the night there walking around the town, watching the sunset and visiting the night market.

The next day we got back onto the boat and sailed past a floating village – they are dotted all over Halong Bay. This one had over 700 people living there and was a fully functioning village complete with a school. Their only income is from fishing. They have their bins collected every other day, drums of fresh water delivered two times a week and vegetables and food delivered by various other boats passing by.

We switched back onto the larger boat again for the last leg of the cruise and had a cooking class on the boat. We all learned how to make spring rolls and had a go at cooking our own. It was a great way to end the trip!

Food & Drink

The food on the boat was mainly seafood. Meals consisted of plates of fish, prawns, tofu, vegetables, spring rolls, rice and fruit. It was all delicious & a high standard of food - there was always more than enough for everyone. Brekkie was toast, eggs, salad, coffee etc.


We were very careful as to which cruise we booked on as you get what you pay for and there are some dodgy travel agents around. Luckily we picked a good one and it was a great few days! There were never any more than 20 passengers on the boat and it was a mix of different age groups and nationalities. The staff really looked after us and answered any questions we had etc. We would thoroughly recommend this cruise to anyone thinking of going.

Trip Cost: $100 each including transfers, food, kayaks, and accommodation. Basically everything except drinks

Travel Agent: Saigon Café Travel. There are many agents in Hanoi with the same name so here is the website for anyone looking to book…

Average Daily Spend per person:

Transport there for both of us: Flight to Hanoi from Hoi An $100

Total Spend for both of us inc. Transport: $230

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G/Dad Gordon on

Looks terriff:/

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