The main reason I chose to stay in Hanoi was because most boats giving tours of Ha Long Bay had pickup and drop-ff points in the city. I ended up loving Hanoi, but the convenience was definitely what drove me to stay there in the first place. I used best price travel to pick out a Ha Long Bay cruise because there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of tour companies in Vietnam and I saw this website on a Youtube video. I really don’t like spending a lot of time comparing countless websites for prices, I’m pretty impatient.
I got picked up from my hotel in Hanoi and rode in a van with my fellow cruise mates. Most of the people were older couples from Europe and Australia, although there were two Korean public school teachers on their winter vacation. We drove for a few hours, we had just one brief pit stop along the way, and arrived at a dock with a dozen cruise boats. As soon as we got on our boat, we were fed and we headed out into the bay. The view on the boat did not disappoint!
In the afternoon, we headed out on a smaller boat to see a cave and the beach on one of the islands. The cave got really crowded really quickly because all the boats dropped their people off at the island at the same time.
After we left the cave, everyone was free to walk around the beach. Some crazy people decided to go swimming, I think they were impervious to the cold temperature of the water.
We headed back to our main boat and relaxed in the dining room and had dinner. I dozed off fairly early. There’s something being on a boat that sends me off into a pleasant sleep. Maybe I should live on a houseboat.
In the morning we got back on our mini boat to head to a lagoon. We circled around to get some nice pictures, and we even got to see a glimpse of monkeys running around at the very top of the hills. That was final excursion of the trip and we headed back to the dock, ready to be driven back to Hanoi.
The scenery is stunning and it’s hard to feel any stress when you’re on a comfortable boat. All the people who worked on the tour and the cruise were fantastic, especially when they were asked insensitive questions by nosy travelers. One man just asked the tour guide after knowing him for all of five minutes “so was your dad in the Vietcong”? If anyone heading on a trip to Vietnam reads this, please don’t be an obnoxious tourist.