Ha Long Bay

Jun 11, 2014
Ha Long Bay cruise is part of most itineraries made for Vietnam, and I would almost claim that it ranks as one of the most visited places in Southeast Asia. It was also on top of our list of things to do, although we did have some concerns when planning on it. First of all it's somewhat hard to pick your cruise considering there are a number of agencies and boat companies to choose from.  We had heard that booking online wasn't really the best way to ensure you get what you pay for, and thus we waited out till Hanoi to book our cruise. Secondly there was the question of the budget. To put it black and white; the cheap cruises are often perceived as the backpacker party boats where security doesn't come as the number one priority and the expensive ones are...well, the opposite. We decided on a mid-range budget (somewhere between 80-150€ / person) thinking it would leave us somewhere between these two ;). 

So, we had prepared to drag ourselves around Hanoi to check for deals since we wanted to go on the cruise already the next day, but to our surprise the entire process from choosing to booking went down in about 15 minutes upon arrival to our hotel- thanks to the super attentive staff*! 


The downside of overly famous places like this is that we have already formed an image in our heads of how the place should be like. In fact, I'm totally guilty of drooling over perfect images online and then expecting to see the same, but let's face it, sometimes the reality isn't quite the same. But then again there are times when it takes you by surprise and it's even better! For us it got quickly clear that we can kiss those blue sky- turquoise water-pictures goodbye as the weather was what it was...let's just say that the sun deck wasn't much of a use on this trip ;). But instead, we had an absolutely amazing group of people and a super entertainer (aka Maggie our tour guide) on board, and we soon forgot the lack of better weather! 


What we didn't expect was all the activities they had in store for us: We ended up exploring caves, kayaking in the bay, visiting floating villages (where people actually live full-time!), playing drinking games till early hours and eating so much yummy food! Not to mention the views while sailing through the picturesque bays...We now know what all the fuss about Ha Long Bay is about. And at the end of the day you know you had a good time when weeks and months later the memory of it brings a big smile on your face :) Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that I got a new nickname from Maggie - THE SNEAKY. No idea where that came from...seriously. 

Took also my phone for a spin...

Sung Sot Cave








Good times on board



The early morning mist made everything look so mystical...




The floating villages










Calm after storm


{All pictures © Voyages of Discovery}



TIPS & LINKS 


Golden Legend Hotel (Hanoi)
*Can't say enough good things about this hotel and their staff in particular. They went out of their way to arrange us to the Ha Long Bay cruise (for the next day) and also moved all our luggage to another hotel while we were on the cruise! We also heard a whole lot of other recommendations for this place, so it's definitely your place to stay in Hanoi. Besides, how many hotels have given you a gift upon departure? Well they did and it was actually a really pretty souvenir to bring back home! 

Check out their homepage here and TripAdvisor here

Legacy Cruise (Ha Long Bay 2 days/ 1 night, 90€/ person)
Pick up was at 8am - about 4 hrs minibus transfer to the harbour and boarding on the boat. Highly recommend mid-range cruise with amazing staff and tour guides! Also, this cruise had a bit different (longer) route that took us through additional bays that are calmer and equally scenic.

Check for reviews on TripAdvisor here



2 comments:

  • Alan Francis said...

    Great photos and very useful information on the practicalities of organising the cruise. Really like the links too. Keep the posts coming!

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