While in Hanoi, we decided to do a Halong Bay Vietnam cruise. With an extensive choice of options, we settled on the Glory Legend Cruise. Making our final decision based on their TripAdvisor rating and our budget!
The tour was three days and two nights and was a great experience despite the weather. Over the three days, it included visits to Ti Top Island, Fighting Cocks Islet, Dinh Huong Islet and Soi Sim Island. Day 2 visits Cua Van Fishing Village, Me Cung Cave and Bai Tu Long Bay. And finally on Day 3 to Surprise Cave.
Over the three days, there were opportunities to do early morning tai chi. Cookery classes before supper and squid fishing after dinner. The days were filled with kayaking, swimming and plenty of climbing stairs to visit caves.
Most of the Halong Bay cruises start from the Tuan Chau jetty situated about one hundred and sixty kilometres from Hanoi. The trip started with collection from our Hanoi hotel at 7:30 am. Then after collecting other guests we finally left Hanoi at about 8 am. The drive takes about four hours and includes a halfway stop at a craft centre for the disabled. Here there were many local products on sale, and we watched artisans working on others.
The roads are not in great condition, many towns along the way, and there's traffic.
When we set off, it was overcast and drizzling, with the forecast predicting that the days ahead would get colder and wetter.
Our Halong Bay Vietnam Cruise
We arrived at the jetty and were surprised by the number of cruise vessels lined up waiting to launch. The scale of this tourism 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 of a few days of very indulgent eating.
After transferring to the small day cruise boat, the first attraction we visited was Ti Top Cave. The area was unpleasantly overcrowded by mobs of Chinese visitors pushing and shoving their way up and down the stairs. Below the cave, there is a small beach where a few swimmers were braving the cold water.
From Ti Top, 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 a relief to get back to the ferry.
After a short ride, the ferry anchored for the night ... surrounded at some distance by many other cruise ferries.
There was a "happy hour" each evening before and after supper. But with the price of drinks on board, the prices are still steep.
The following day there was an early start with breakfast at 7 am. It was still raining, windy and chilly as we transferred to the day cruise boat.
Our first stop was the Cua Van Floating village. Here there was another opportunity for kayaking. But as the weather was horrible, we took the easy option of ladies skulling us around the village on tiny rowing boats.
After lunch (another delicious meal), we visited the Me Cung Cave on an island with an inland lake.
From here, it was back to the main ferry for another evening of "happy hour", cooking lessons and a delicious dinner.
The Last Day
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 two-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 decided to go from here to Cat Ba Island and use our transfer return trip to Hanoi a few days later.