Overnight cruise in Halong Bay
About Halong Bay
Halong Bay is in northeast Vietnam, It is known across the world for its thousands of towering limestone islands covered in rainforest.
Halong Bay was designated a world heritage site in 1994 and is unsurprisingly one of Vietnam’s tourist hubs.
There are between 1960 and 2000 islets in Halong Bay which have gone through 500 million years of formation in different environments.
Which tour to go for
It’s a must see spot when visiting Vietnam and there are hundreds of tour companies offer a Halong Bay experience.
This makes picking which tour company to go for really hard. Online there are such mixed reviews and the prices vary significantly.
After doing a bit of research we decided we were going to go for a ‘flash packers’ experience.
We didn’t need luxury and it’s $300+ price tag, but we also didn’t like the sound of the $50 boats with terrible food and beds.
Vietnam backpackers offer a cruise called cast away. It goes around Halong Bay and you stay on a private island for $210.
This tour is very popular, it’s essentially Vietnam backpackers flagship offering. You have to buy 2 million dongs worth of tokens for alcohol and you party for the whole 3 days 2 nights.
We have heard amazing things about castaway and lots of people love it for the social and party.
However we decided against it based on price and the fact we could get drunk anywhere.
We settled on Lemon Cruise, our hostel had a brochure and the pictures looked amazing. They also had good reviews on tripsdvisor.
The boat and our tour guide:
We were picked up from our hostel at 8:30am by a mini bus and transported to Halong City. Which is approximately a 3–4 hour journey depending on traffic.
Once at the harbour your board a small boat and taxi across to the large boat.
Once on the boat you are checked into your rooms, we had a double. As expected for a boat rooms are small but perfectly reasonable and well decorated. Each room has an ensuite bathroom with hot showers.
Next lunch is served. The food was surprisingly good with a mixture of Vietnamese and western food. They catered well to vegetation’s or people with allergies.
After lunch you cruise to where you will Kayak around Halong Bay. There are two people to a kayak and you are able to paddle around the area freely, seeing the scenery, fishing villages and floating fish farms.
Following that you visit a pearl farm and learn all about pearl farming and the process and end product.
Next up is visiting a beach, the boat sails over to a small beach where you can swim and play volley ball.
Activities done you take the small boat back to the large boat and get ready for dinner which is served at 6:30pm.
Dinner was delicious. We decided to get a bottle of wine with dinner, this cost us $29. Probably a good time to mention that all drinks are chargeable, and pretty expensive. A beer was 45k Đồng.
After dinner we mingled with the other guests on the boat and had a few drinks. We played lots of different games and had a real laugh with everyone on the boat.
Breakfast is early at 7am especially after going to bed at 1:30am. Breakfast is good.
Next is a visit to the caves, this was disappointing. I am not a massive cave fan anyway, but this was literally the most touristy cave I have been too. Over 100 people poured in when we were there and inside is really nothing special. Skip it and take a nap!
After caving you shower and get packed then must check out of your room.
Lunch is served at 11am (bit early in my view) and you get off the boat at around 12:30/1pm depending on docking at the port.
A bus to Hanoi then arrives to get everyone back. However, we were only going ten minutes down the road to a different port due to Cat Ba being our next stop.
Halong Bay is beautiful, a really lovely place to spend a night on a cruise boat.
The activities were fun (with the exception of caving) and the food is good.
The staff were great, though definitely encouraging the drinking in order to boast their revenues.
Saying that it led to a really fun night with all the other guests on board.
I would recommend lemon cruise.