Our travel agent booked us on a cruise for Halong Bay. Something I’ve been meaning to do my entire life. All those small island mountains protruding looked magical. Something I wanted to witness with my own eyes and feel what it’s like to be surrounded by them. It may not have been the best weather but I’ll take the overcast coolness. And thankfully there was no rain in forecast.
The day started with a taxi ride to the dock. We were to meet up and join a tour group, so we picked a meeting spot. Not too difficult to spot the tour guide who insisted to meet outside the restrooms. In his defense, “toilet” was something common to everyone no matter where they’re from. Fair enough. The ticket counter would have done fine. But the encounter did enlighten me to the fact that they charge people to use the restroom. 20,000VND if I remember correctly. I guess it was a good conversation starter with the group.
Soon we were led onto the boat. We took up only half of it. Off season? Not the most ideal weather? You pick the reason. I was just glad to be there. The tour guide sat everyone with similar languages at particular tables. English speakers with us, Chinese speakers a the other, and the rest in the remaining tables. Not a bad idea. Lunch was served as we departed. You’ll see below, not the greatest of meals. Again, I’m for cruising the bay. The tour took about 5 hours and included a visit to one of caverns. If you want a touristy thing to do, this would be it. Next time though, I’d go private tour with a smaller boat to check out remote spots and skip the caverns. And I wouldn’t do what the tour group did, which included a six hour round trip bus ride from Hanoi to do this cruise.
White Dragon Cruises
Halong Bay, Vietnam
Verdict: Do an overnight stay on a larger boat or on one of the islands. This shouldn’t be a day trip.