Halong Bay, Vietnam: Our Excursions

Halong Bay, Vietnam: Our Excursions

So with having booked the 3 days and 2 night tour on the cruise (junk) boat, we were brought to more places than the others who just opted for the 1 night tour. I recommend the 2 night one.

First we were brought to some big caves, where the manager of our junk boat took us into the caves and told us about them. There are 3 caves altogether and the last one is huge!

 

The next day we went with another couple on our day excursion. The man who would be taking us for the day said that for previous day there were 16 people on the day excursion, so we were very lucky that we were accompanied by only another couple! They brought us to a smaller boat for the day, so it was great having the boat to ourselves and the other couple!

He took us to see some monkeys that live up on the mountains. While there we passed a few boats filled to the brim with Chinese tourists, thankful to be on our boat with just 5 people!

 

Then we went to visit the Fishing Villages, and it was really interesting! Unfortunately there is only one village left in Halong Bay, as in 2012 or 2014 (I’m not 100% sure) the government moved the people living there onto the mainland so they could have a better standard of living and their children could go to school. However some older generations weren’t happy as they had lived on the boats their whole lives. So now, the people living on the boats don’t live their permanently as they used to in the past.

 

I remember watching an episode of Top Gear (a show about cars) and they went to Vietnam and to one of these fishing villages, and I remember it was that episode that made me interested in visiting Vietnam.

After that we went to a Pearl Farm, where they farm pearls. I never realised it, but it’s actually a very long process, taking years for a pearl to grow. Then many of the shells won’t have a pearl at all. So a lot of it is all about luck. Also many pearls have small imperfections, so that is why they can be so expensive, as the ones that are 100% perfect are very rare!

 

The day after we were supposed to go to a small beach, but because there was a little drizzle outside, we decided to stay on the boat. We really didn’t mind having to spend longer on it at all! They also included Tai Chi in the mornings, so we went up one morning to the deck and (tried) to do some tai chi. It was a great experience.

Halong Bay wise, it was very enjoyable sailing through the karst islands. There are nearly 2,000 of them! There was a bit of rubbish in the sea when we went to visit the fishing village, so that was a shame. It’s a pity the government won’t enforce the dumping of rubbish, as it’s such a beautiful place. We went in the low season so there may be more rubbish in the sea during high season, but I’m not sure. We loved our experience and we would definitely recommend Indochina Sails if you want to go to Halong Bay. It’s only accessible by cruises, there’s no other way to visit these islands.

 

At night all the cruise boats park near each other in the middle of the islands so it’s lovely seeing the twinkling of all the lights from the boats at night time.

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All the boats at night

To find out about our cruise boat, click here: Cruising Down Halong Bay, Vietnam: Our Cruise Boat

Aisling

Cruising Down Halong Bay, Vietnam: Our Cruise Boat

Cruising Down Halong Bay, Vietnam: Our Cruise Boat

After our few days in Hanoi, we got our private bus for the 4 hour journey to Halong Bay. For this part of our trip, we found on the website Booking.com a cruise company called Indochina Sails Cruise. This was the most expensive part of our whole trip in Vietnam, but we had a bit of extra money at hand, and we decided to treat ourselves with going on this cruise. It was amazing!

We really aren’t used to being treated like royalty, and it was hard to get used to at first, but we now realise how the other richer half live! It was definitely an experience! I could certainly get used to it! Because it was quite expensive, we were the youngest couple on board, but we met two wonderful retired couples while on the cruise. A couple from Ireland (what a surprise that was!) and a couple from America. Both of them have been travelling around Asia for the past few weeks.

So for the cruise, we decided to go for the 3 day 2 night cruise and we really enjoyed it. The rooms on the boat were gorgeous, the food was delicious and the employees on board were very nice too.

For lunch there was a set menu, and it was really nice! Then for dinner there was a buffet, with lots of food on offer! Again for breakfast there was another buffet. We were welcomed after our expeditions with a drink, unlimited tea and coffee on board, and the bed was super comfy! The manager helped us with booking a bus for the next leg of the trip, and it was just a lovely experience having people looking after you all day! The wealthy people in the world are certainly pampered!

The only fault on board was that there was no wifi whatsoever. Now we really didn’t mind this at all, but we were worried in case our families were getting worried about us for not contacting them!

Aisling

Vietnam: Our 10 day Itinerary

So I was a bit quiet on my blog for a few days, as we went to visit Northern Vietnam for over a week. It was fantastic, and it made me realise how Chengdu lacks a lot of visible culture. In North Vietnam, there is culture everywhere!

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Itinerary

Hanoi; 2 nights

Halong Bay: 3 night cruise

Tam Coc 3 nights

Hanoi: 2 nights

Below is a visualisation of our trip. From Hanoi to Halong Bay took around 4 hours. From Halong Bay to Tam Coc (close to the town of Ninh Binh) took around 5 hours. Then from Tam Coc back to Hanoi took about 2 hours. It’s much shorter because it’s motorway all the way. We took buses to go to each place.

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It’s very easy to organise a bus to go to each of these places. Because we were going on a cruise in Halong Bay, the company organised a private van to pick us up at our hostel in Hanoi, but I’m 100% sure you can organise how to go by bus.

Then from Halong Bay, an employee from the cruise boat organised for us to get a bus to Tam Coc. We were supposed to leave at 1pm, but then the bus had to go and pick up other people, so definitely take this into account when using these. They won’t leave on time!

Then from Tam Coc, our lovely hostel ordered a bus for us to Hanoi again. So don’t worry about transportation. People at your hotel/ hostel will help you organise it for you!

Because we only had over a week, we decided just to stay in Northern Vietnam. I also like the fact that our trip didn’t consist of a whole day of travelling and what not. These places are quite close together, so if you don’t have a lot of time, I would suggest you to visit these places.

Even the journey to them had incredible scenery! So you won’t be bored when travelling!

Aisling