Hanoi to Halong Bay
If a traveler has enough time in Hanoi, one of the cheapest ways of traveling is using the public transportation click here. For hassle free from commuting and saving us time, we took the services of a tour agency, suggested by a friend in Hanoi, for 2 days/1 night excursion in a 3 and half star cruise ship.
Sinh Cafe Travel
Address: 39 Ma May Str, Hoan Kiem Dist, Hanoi, Vietnam
- They offer different tours in Hanoi and nearby provinces like Sapa, Halong Bay, Ninh Binh and other places for a cheaper price.
- Honest and very specific on what to expect between different cruise ships. They told us that 2 star cruise ships are for a party goer and the 3 stars up are for those who want a more relaxing adventure.
- The staff that entertained us was very accommodating and speaks English well.
- Owner of the tour agency was very friendly. We kept in touch through Facebook messenger. Speak very good English and gave us a good rate.
Ha Long Seasun Cruise
( rated as 3.5 stars)
- All meals, entrance to scenic spots and activities like cooking class, kayaking, night fishing or karaoke was free.
- Food was plenty. They served meat, vegetables, seafood and other Vietnamese food.
- Bed was very comfortable. Free bottled water, fruits and light snack with the room.
- Some staffs were accommodating and friendly
- Ship was old and rustic. Pictures on their website are edited.
- Dining area is small. You need to share a table with 4 – 5 other guests
- The drinks were VERY EXPENSIVE. A small bottled water will cost you more than VND 50,000, fruits juices and beers will cost more.
- Food could have been better. I didn’t enjoy the meals except the last day before going back to Hanoi
- Hot shower and A/C are not turned on simultaneously. If you decided to take a shower that is not on scheduled, braised yourself with the cold water.
- Not enough locks in the room so better securing your valuables inside your luggage or bring it when you leave the ship for an activity
- Room was narrow. No door or enough space from the bed to the bathroom
- Sunbeds at the top deck were soaking wet and closed in the evening. You can only hangout at the lobby after dinner.
- Our original guide needed to accompany the other guests who were going to Cat Ba leaving us with another guide that was very arrogant.
- Night fishing was boring. Guest will be doing this activity on the ship.
- Hail to the rudest staff/boatman we met (refer to the picture below). The checkout was as early as 9 am after you visit Halong Pearl museum. You will only be given 5 to 10 minutes to get all of your bags out the room and stow them at the lobby while waiting for the cooking class and lunch. My boyfriend and I decided to take a shower before checkout. Shower + dressing up + secure our things, assuring we did not leave anything, took us 25 minutes but this man continued banging our door while shouting telling us to get out of the room so he can clean it.
After traveling for 4 hours (30 minutes stopover for a snack/coffee at your own expense) the bus will drop you off at the port for transfer. A small boat will take you to your ship docked somewhere near the port
The port area was packed with people and chaotic but your guide will organize everything and make sure nothing and no one is left.
The boat ride is about 5 minutes. No proper stairs, you go in through a side door of the ship.
Lunch served while the boat is cruising its way to Bo Hòn Island. After lunch, the guide will grant you time to freshen up and relax before sight-seeing.
View deck of the ship
The view was stunning and spendid for relaxation (with a strong Vietnamese coffee). Looking at the bay slowly approaching Halong was magnificent. You get to see the other cruise ships sailing beside yours, eagles flying above and huge rock formation.
Sung Sot Cave
Location: Việt Hải, Cát Hải, Quảng Ninh Province
Entrance Fee: VND 50,000 ( free for cruise ship guest)
Opening hours: 6:30 am – 6:30 pm
The day we went there was very rainy. Some tourists were pushing others on the stairs to get inside the cave for cover. Before going inside, the guide explained to us the history of the place.
Locals call it the Cave of Surprises because when it was discovered, it had much surprises to offer. The lights added beauty to the limestones and crystal formation of the cave. The exploration lasted for an hour before we went back to the boat.
The place was undeniably a charm but it was swarming with tourists and mothers dragging their crying children uninterested with the place.
Ti Top Mountain
Location: Southeast of Halong Bay
Entrance Fee: VND 50,000 ( free for cruise ship guest)
The island is comparable to Kota Kinabalu’s Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, small, crowded but beautiful. We were not able to explore the island because of the harsh weather.
While some were playing volleyball and soccer on the beach others were swimming. The beachside was well maintained witth a few sunloungers and restaurants in the area.
We fled the island around 6 pm
Dinner served at 7 pm. I can hardly recall what the food was because it wasn’t delicious. After dinner, you can use the karaoke or night fishing on board.
Both activities were boring. Some of us sought to do night fishing but did not catch any fish. Some were cheering for us while drinking beer. After the funny experience, we went to the lobby and hangout with the rest of the guests talking and sharing about our country’s culture and experiences in Vietnam.
Buffet breakfast was good. Breads with butter and jam, fruits, coffee, juices, eggs, sausages and hams were served.
Pearl Farm Village
Location: Halong Bay
A tour guide from the pearl museum took us on tour and explained to us how the pearls were cultured. She also ushered us the whole place. Our last stop was at the jewelry shop.
After the tour, we enjoyed the remaining time kayaking around the area. The place was very calm and quiet. Whole activity took an hour before going back to the ship for check-out, cooking class and lunch.
The cooking class was very basic or maybe I was expecting more from it. It was good to know how to make basic spring rolls (same as how we make it in the Philippines). The tour guide wanted to be funny, cracking up jokes and all that but he sounded arrogant.
Lunch was delicious. We ate the spring rolls we made and they also served steamed fish, meat with vegetables, salads, vegetarian dishes, shrimps, noodles and Vietnamese fried rice.
The ship sailed back to the mainland as we were eating. While we settled our VERY EXPENSIVE BILL (around VND 1,800 for the juices, coffee and bottled water we ordered the whole trip) , the second tour guide was going around the table asking to buy ( or give away) money from different countries for a souvenir. I ended up giving him PHP 50. 00 ( $ 1.00).
Took the small boat back to the port, bus ride for 4 hours to Hanoi. Arrive around 5 pm