Being in Hanoi for work, I wanted to use the opportunity to explore Halong Bay, having heard so many great stories about this enchanting UNESCO World Heritage site. After doing my research on tripadvisor, blogs and other online sources, I booked a one night/2 day cruise with a company called Indochina.
They offer various boats and cruises, and the boats looked well maintained and decent. Travelling alone, I initially booked the Dragon Legend because it was bigger. I got ‘upgraded’ to the Red Dragon cruise and I’m still thankful for that, as I think this is one the prettiest boats in Halong Bay, having seen the rest.
I was told the Dragon Legend is more of a ‘Party Boat’, and the smaller ones are more for people who want enjoy the stunning surroundings in a quieter setting. Which is exactly what I wanted.
The cruise takes you Bai Tu Long bay, which apparently is less touristy. We were with 4 junks in this bay, but that didn’t bother me and the surroundings were gorgeous.
We got te see a bit more when we went on a kayaking adventure in the late afternoon.
We kayaked along the dramatic rocks which were stunning.
The views over the bay from on of the islands we stopped at were amazing
Then it was time to sit back and relax on a small beach close to where we anchored our boat. I found a friend to have a swim with.
We waited for the beautiful sunset.
All that playing around had made us hungry so we returned to our junk.
The food was amazing! The fresh seafood was prepared wonderfully, and so tender. There was plenty, served with rice and salads. Coffee, tea and water are complimentary, all other (alcoholic) beverages are not included in the price. A decent bottle of wine starts at around 25USD.
On day 2, we visited a floating village (note: Dragon legend doesn’t do this!) and an oyster farm where they sell gorgeous jewelry with pearls too.
It may look like a ‘tourist trap’, but I wasn’t pushed to buy anything, as opposed to other places. Plus, if you are going to bring souvenirs home anyway, you might as well do it from a place where you actually support a small local community.
The visit to the small floating fishermen’s village was quite eye-opening; it’s a world away from how we live and it’s inspiring to see how these small communities sustain themselves. Tip: bring some education material for the school in the floating village, like pens or notepads.
The surroundings were surreal, and I couldn’t believe my eyes while paddling through this small piece of paradise.
The quality of the cruise was simply perfect! The staff was friendly and helpful and made us feel right at home. Our guide Hoang was a very nice guy with a great sense of humour, and he was very knowledgeable about the area. The cabins are not very big, but they are nicely decorated and all facilities are there. You do not want to spend a lot of time there anyway, as you don’t want to miss the gorgeous views when you wake up.
What I liked as well is that the Indochina junk supports ‘green’ tourism. Yes, you are on a motorized vehicle in the bay, but at night, all boats power off, and get powered by a floating power supply that supports all boats in the bay. Also, when going to the floating village by bamboo boat, any litter that is floating around will be collected.
I would recommend this cruise to anyone and I can’t wait to do this again with my hobbit as it is lovely experience to share.
Oh, last but not least: transport to and from Hanoi in these luxury vans isn’t bad either; legspace aplenty and they even have wifi available!! 🙂