Aside from the food, Halong Bay was the reason why I wanted to visit Hanoi, Vietnam.
Initially, I thought of doing a DIY Halong Bay day tour, but during my research I had been consistently getting the impression of it being too time consuming — it is advisable to acquire a Halong Bay tour. You can opt to choose from a full-day cruise, two-day cruise, or even three days cruise.
For a Php 1,900 you will be joining a small group of 24 people and have a hassle-free, and relaxed cruise tour along the famous tourist spot in Vietnam. Our tour guide was very friendly, and can fluently communicate in English.
Our booking includes the following :
- Halong Bay cruise
- Admission fees
- English-speaking guide
- Bottled water
- Bamboo boat/canoe
- Vietnamese seafood lunch
- Free Wi-Fi on transport
- Fruits and snacks (on shared tour bus)
+ The tour includes free pick up and drop off in your hotel within Hanoi Old Quarter. Glad to say we were picked up on time: 8am. Also, we returned to the city with ample time to tryout something new from our must-try food.
+ On our way to Halong Bay, we stopped at a souvenir place wherein cross-stitched art, hand-made jewelries and marble sculptures. It is their way to support locals, mostly those with disabilities — showcasing that we don;t have any limitation as long as we are motivated to be productive.
+ Upon our arrival to Halong Bay, our tour guide handed us our tickets. You must have your ticket with you for all time during the tour. During the cruise, we off-loaded the boat at least twice and the ticket is needed as they punch a hole to it as an “entered” mark.
+ The Halong Bay cruise took off with a lunch serving on the boat. It may not be buffet, but the food was plenty that it felt like it. There were spring rolls, fish, fresh shrimp, and vegetables. Enjoyed our lunch as we cruised along the beauty of the small islands.
+ First stop, Heaven Palace. This is the most visited cave in Halong Bay. Upon entering, you’ll be amazed with it’s geological structure and how nature made this beauty. (I know I did 😅) Our tour guide had a lot of stories about the formations inside the cave, my favorite would be how Halong Bay came to be. You’ll see and understand how the Vietnamese people value their beliefs, and I actually felt how thankful they are spiritually.
+ Next stop (and last), Floating Village. Okay, here you have three options: kayak, ride a boat, or dtay at the cruise. We opted to ride a boat with three other cruise members. The serenity made us appreciate the beauty and quiet of the place. The floating village used to be the fishing village, but time came when the people left and lived near the shore/city as mandated by the government. Now, with their help, tourists are able to witness, even just a small piece, some of the “hidden” beauties of nature in Halong Bay.
** Tipping is not mandatory in Vietnam, but it is appreciated. If you will opt to tip the boatman at least VND 50,000 per person.
After the Halong Bay tour, which ended at around 4 – 4:30pm, we are headed back to Hanoi. We had another stop over where they showcase crafts by locals: hand stitched art, marble statues, etc. and snack for your trip back to the city.
Since the tour includes free pick up and drop off in hotels around Old Quarter, you can also mention to your guide if you want to visit the night market (happens on weekends) so they can drop you off around the area.