HA LONG BAY, VIETNAM
02/08/2015 - 02/09/2015
We did a 2 day 1 night cruise in Ha Long Bay using Bhaya Cruises (100% recommend) This cruise was by far one of the highlights we did on the trip. After hours of scanning Tripadvisor, I'd been worried about getting a janky ass boat with rats or having a boat filled with all old retired fogies who went to bed at 7pm. Instead, ours was a new 2 month old boat, had a perfect mix of young and old people from all over the world, and about equal staff to people on the boat so food/service was top notch. We each paid $175 and it was well worth it (there's cheaper & more expensive options but you get what you pay for).
Even if our boat hadn't been great, the atmosphere of Ha Long Bay is unbelievable. Really hard to take pictures of because there is something like over 1,600 islands and islets that form a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars (ok I just copied that from the ha long bay website it sounded too perfect). Despite there being rain the night before, the haze blew off for us and we had sunny blue skies while cruising through the islands so it was pretty perfect.
We got to take small canoes through a floating village where locals actually live on the water and later on Jon and I took out kayaks where we were the only ones in the area for as far as we could see. We enjoyed a sunset happy hour party on the roofdeck, a cooking demonstration and a fancy dinner where I learned I don't have a clue about the correct (i.e. ladylike & proper) way to eat a prawn.
The next morning began with perhaps, the most peaceful way to ever start your day - Tai Chi on the roofdeck while sailing through the morning mist among those magical cliffs. Afterwards, we got to take another small boat out to see a huge cave inside one of the limestone cliffs and that was really cool. Depending on how much time you have in Vietnam, you could also do a 2 night, 3 day cruise which we could've done but definitely don't do the single day tours as it takes about a 4 hour drive 1 way to get to Ha Long Bay from Hanoi so it would suck to spend 8 hours in a car for only about 4-5 hours of bay time. Ha Long Bay overall was an amazing experience - highly, highly recommend.