Not realising that there was such an extensive choice of Halong Bay cruise options we selected the Glory Legend Cruise based on their TripAdvisor rating (and the price we were prepared to pay!)
The tour was 3 days and 2 nights and was a great experience. It included visits to Ti Top Island, Fighting Cocks Islet, Dinh Huong Islet, Soi Sim Island, Cua Van Fishing Village, Me Cung Cave, Bai Tu Long Bay, Surprise Cave
Over the 3 days there were opportunities to do early morning tai chi, squid fishing after dinner, cookery classes before supper, kayaking, swimming and plenty of climbing stairs to visit caves.
Most of the Halong Bay cruises start from the Tuan Chau jetty. After being picked from our Hanoi hotel at 7:30 am we drove around collecting other guests until we finally left Hanoi left at about 8am. The 160 kilometre drive takes about 4 hours including a half way stop at a craft centre for the disabled. There many local products and some craftsmen working to produce others.
The roads are not in great condition, there are many towns along the way and there is traffic.
When we set off it was overcast and drizzling and the forecast predicted that the days would be getting colder and wetter.
We arrived at the jetty and were astounded by the number of cruise vessels there were waiting to launch. It was unbelievable.
After the check in formalities we boarded the ferry and set off. After a short safety briefing a delicious lunch was served. This was the start to a few days of very indulgent eating.
Our first attraction visited was Ti Top Cave The arae cave was overcrowded by mobs of Chinese visitors pushing and shoving their way up and down the stairs. If you were prepared to brave the cold you could also swim.
From there it was off to the Tung Sau area where we kayaked and learned about the cultured pearl production process. It was cold and windy and it was a relief to get back to the boat.
Each evening and after supper there are happy hours. But with the price of drinks on board these were still excessive.
The next morning was an early starting before 7am with breakfast. It was still raining, windy and chilly as we transferred to day cruise boat.
From there we visited the Cua Van Floating village. There was another opportunity for kayaking but the weather was horrible so we took the easy option of being skulled around the village by ladies on tiny rowing boats.
After lunch (another delicious meal) we visited the Me Cung Cave which is on an island with an inland lake.
After getting back to the main vessel nother evening of happy hour and a delicious meal followed.
After another early start we visited the Hang Sung Sot or Surprise Cave. This cave is enormous and again there were many visitors. A solid stream throughout the 2 kilometre slow walk through the cave.
After that it was brunch and back to the jetty to disembark from our most enjoyable Halong Bay Cruise. We had decided that we would go from here to Cat Ba Island and use our return trip to Hanoi a few days later.
On a mission to help others expand their horizons. Who knows where they can end? Passionate about learning and embracing the changing world. Adventurous and skeptical but optimistic!