Vietnam-Cruising Halong Bay

Cruising the world famous UNESCO site of Halong Bay is pretty darn amazing!

Some people only dream of going there but we were lucky enough to actually visit and spend 2 nights cruising the bay! We even had perfect weather!

We aren’t really “Cruise” people so I wasn’t sure what to expect with a two night cruise. We did extensive research on a luxury 3 day/2 night cruise and were narrowed down our choices to Indochina Dragon Legend (but they never got back to our multiple inquiries) and Paradise Cruises. So we booked with Paradise.

One of the reasons we chose this cruise and itinerary was because we were supposed to be able to stay on the boat the second day and not transfer to a smaller “day boat” as many other two night cruises did.

Unfortunately, we got an email about a week before our cruise that our itinerary changed and we would be on a “day boat” from 8:45 am until 2:30pm after all. That soured my experience.

Even though the food on the boat was really outstanding and the service was over the top amazing, I felt like we just didn’t get what we were promised.

Nevertheless, cruising Halong Bay was an experience that we will treasure for years to come and it really was beautiful. We even had a fabulous sunset!

There was no shortage of activities that we could choose from.

We enjoyed the kayaking in the bay and I was pleasantly surprised that there was very minimal trash. I was really expecting to see more.

Another activity was a trip to Surprise Cave. I guess the “Surprise” was that the cave was so huge (and not crowded) and maybe another “surprise” was the penis shaped rock formation that was illuminated by a red light?! Hum.

We had fun at the cooking demonstration on the boat. Fried spring rolls one night and fresh rolls the second night. We even learned a few pointers!

The only place we encountered crowds (we cruised early May, which is the low season) was on Ti Top Island. We chose to climb the 400 steps to a pagoda and an amazing view.

Swimming was the other activity choice here but we didn’t go beyond putting our feet in the water. It just wasn’t “swimming clean”.

Our favorite excursion was on the second day. We went to see one of the two remaining floating fishing villages left in Halong Bay.

Apparently, just a very small percentage of people who visit Halong Bay make it as far as the village we visited.

I was surprised to learn that the Vietnamese government has relocated all but two villages to the mainland. There is a promise of a better life and free education for the children. It seems they are being kicked out in an effort to clean up the bay for tourism.

It was a very thought provoking visit.

What a magnificent spot in the world. I’m glad our family got to experience it together!

Notes: Alisa cruises offers “responsible cruising” and twice monthly “Halong green and clean” cruises. AuCo Luxury cruises has a “Fight for a Healthy Ocean Campaign”.

Like I said, I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of trash we saw because I was expecting to see quite a bit. I hope it continues to improve for the sake of future generations!

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