No visit to Hanoi without a tour to Halong Bay, that much was already certain. Somehow, a stamp like “Unesco World Heritage Site” is a decisive indication that you will miss something worth seeing here if you skip this place when planning your trip. And if you are ever in Vietnam, you should not miss Halong Bay with its imposing karst rocks.
2 days to Halong Bay from Hanoi
I opted for a 2-day tour to Halong Bay with an overnight stay on the boat, meals included. Since I was traveling alone, I only got “half” a double room, so to speak – if there had been a lot of demand, I would have had to share it with another person. But in the end it was no problem, I and another single traveler had finally each their own cabin – which by the way did not look so bad. Cruise feeling came up.
Nostalgic: With the junk on tour through the Halong Bay in Vietnam
So early in the morning at 8 we started. The bus ride in the rustic Vietnamese minivan lasted a good four hours and to see except a pee break at a rest stop with attached tourist trap in the form of an oversized souvenir sales hall there was: nothing. At Halong City port, we then boarded a feeder boat that took us to our junk. We checked into our rooms, and until lunch we were able to explore the boat and snooze on the sundeck. Slowly the junk picked up speed and so did our group dynamics.
My recommendation for Vietnam
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No one had somehow gotten the ride they had booked, the actual boat was either booked out after all or somehow not available. In return, we got a great upgrade to this, better ship – as it quickly turned out, our stories were similar there. My guess is that they are trying to put together a suitable group, rather than meeting the individual boat requests. In our case, the composition was successful, a colorful bunch of people from all corners of the world – the group was already good. And slowly the initial fog in Halong Bay lifted.
We were lucky, the sky cleared up more and more until there was not a cloud to be seen, and everyone was happy as punch. We visited a stalactite cave – big, but those who have visited other caves there might not be quite so flashed – we went kayaking, we went swimming in the evening sun, and we climbed a mega-high lookout.
Thanks to Alex and Maria, two well-prepared Englishwomen with an almost inexhaustible supply of good gin, we also got the obligatory karaoke evening on the boat behind us and all together let the evening end on the sun deck under a starry sky in the mirror-smooth bay.
Disadvantages of a Halong Bay Tour
Of course, you don’t drive through the entire huge Halong Bay on this tour, but maybe it’s better that way. With the environmental protection they have that in Vietnam still not so dolle, and so dirty rinse water (about the other things I think here rather not) just out of the open galley door at the back of the ship out into the sea. With the amount of ships, that adds up to quite a bit.
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Which tour to choose for Halong Bay? How many days do you need?
It really makes sense to take the time to book a 3 -day tour with a second overnight stay on Cat Ba Island – very worthwhile according to many fellow travelers I met along the way. I can only advise against the 1-day tour, the bus ride is really endless with 4 hours, and to drive this distance in one day both there and back is really an ordeal. And there is hardly any time and energy reserves for the bay itself.
You don’t have to plan a trip from Hanoi – enough operators offer boat tours through the Halong Bay in agency offices and also every hotel is happy to help and acts as a tour office. Alternatively, you can book boat tours online in advance:
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