A popular excursion from Hanoi is a trip to Halong Bay. While doing an overnight cruise isn’t a must-do, I would highly recommend it. It offers you the chance to take in the natural wonder leisurely, and there’s nothing like a quiet boat ride to de-stress you.
Before I get into the review of Halong Bay, I should begin by telling you that the weather was not nice. And apparently, that’s not uncommon. While I still enjoyed the time we spent out there, it would have been immeasurably nicer if the weather wasn’t cloudy the entire time. So keep that in mind.
The boat we chose for our cruise was Dragon Legend with the Indochina Junk company. This was not the cheapest option ($200), but quite honestly none of us wanted to go cheap on this since we’d be staying on the boat overnight. So I can tel you, the price is worth it. The staff was very friendly, and very organized. The boat was extraordinarily nice, the food was included and quite good, and the alcohol was reasonably priced (remember that reasonable in Vietnam still means dirt cheap). It wasn’t overly crowded (there were about 30 passengers) and the rooms were super clean/comfortable. The boat had a very nice sundeck, pool, and hot tub as well.
As far as the activities go, the cruise staff organized a 1-hour tour of the bay (we were actually in Bai Tu Long Bay which is the less touristy section of Halong Bay) via either kayak or ferry boat. They offered primarily two-person kayaks, however there were a couple of single person kayaks that you can specifically ask to use. Again, because of the cloudy weather, the kayaking wasn’t really all that great, but it was strikingly calm out on the water and very serene.
There’s also a cave walk that the staff will take you into, which again was pretty cool if you’ve never done before. If you have, it won’t be anything that you haven’t already seen to be honest.
Surprisingly, my favorite activity was the morning Tai Chi class on the sundeck. It’s hard to put into words how calming and mentally refreshing it felt to be doing those exercises in the cool, crisp, clean morning air.
Ultimately, I would recommend this boat and company, good weather or bad. If you get good weather, the $200 is really worth it at that point. But I’m confident it’ll be a nice excursion nevertheless.