I don’t go on tour groups very often – because I hate being shepherded from place to place (mmmeeeeeeehhhhhhhhh). What if I wanted more time in Place X and would have loved to skip Place Y? Plus, tour groups in Asia have an annoying tendency to bring me to places where things are VERY VERY overpriced. USD$10 for 200g of wasabi peas? Pffffft. Come ON.
But for Halong Bay, I had no choice but to go with a tour group. There is no way I can pay to charter my own boat out to Halong Bay unless I married some old, rich and dying man.
I was on an ‘old person’ cruise so I was below the median age of the people on the cruise.
I paid a little more than the regular Halong Bay cruise to stay in Bai Tu Long Bay. Only a few cruise companies are allowed to anchor there for the night. The Bai Tu Long Bay is a little further out compared to Ha Long Bay.
There is another type of cruise called the party cruise on Halong Bay, but I had no desire to meet drunkards on their gap-years. Apparently, they pay more to drink all the time on the boat. Party cruises cost more.
I love my alcohol, but there is more to life than getting drunk and getting laid.
The room was nice. In the evenings, I could hear the creak of the boat as it moved in unison with the waves. Everything was quiet at night – everyone else on my cruise went to bed at 9.30pm as the day’s activities were quite tiring. It was very quiet outside my room at 10pm except the the swish of the waves and the crew talking.
During the day, we visited the Sung Sot Cave (or the Cave of Surprises), kayaked and visited Vong Vieng village – a waterboat village.
Sung Sot Cave
This is a very popular tourist stopover for tour groups on the cruise, and the cave is very beautiful. Not very fascinating, but still beautiful.
The tour guide will say how the people who found this cave saw dragons, turtles, dogs and other animals within the rock formation. Nod, smile and look at the rocks – that is probably some creative marketing. I saw the animals mentioned, but that could have been any other animal. However, the play of lights on the rock formation is very beautiful.
The view outside the cave was quite amazing:
Vong Vieng village
I could hear the man labouring behind me as he rowed his boat. 6 very heavy tourists propelled by this slight man – I was amazed at the amount of muscle he possessed.
The view was beautiful, the boat ride tranquil. The houseboats were nicely decorated.
We left the boat at noon the next day.
Hours taken to travel from Ha Noi to Ha Long City: 4 hours
Cost: USD$154 (2D1N option, plus an extra single-person fee. All entrance fees to attractions and shuttle bus tickets were included) – booked with Little Hanoi Diamond
Cruise agency: Halong Legacy Cruise
Note: My tour guide is Maggie. She’s enthusiastic and very friendly. Her command of English is a 3 out of 5. However, she was a little too hung up about her unmarried state. As a person older than she is (and similarly unmarried), I could not help but to roll my eyes mentally at her comments.