This post most likely contains affiliate links to things such as tours, transport, accommodation, products & amazon associate links. I may receive a small commission if you use the links which costs you no extra, but helps keep this blog going.
Halong Bay in Northern Vietnam is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World along with the Amazon Rainforest in South America , Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina, Komodo Island in Indonesia, Table Mountain in South Africa, Jeju Island in South Korea and Puerto Princesa River in the Philippines and after visiting I can totally see why it made this list. The Halong Bay Archipelago made up of 1969 islands is quite a sight to be seen!
I flew into Hanoi in North Vietnam from Hong Kong and met up with my friend Steph.
We booked our Halong Bay trip with our Hostel- Little Hanoi Hostel 1. I had read that you pay for what you get with a boat trip to Halong Bay. We saw some 2 day, 1 night tours being offered in the city from as little as $50 USD pp which is very budget friendly however although we didn’t have the money to splash out on a really nice cruise around Halong Bay we also didn’t want to be on a bad boat with a party crowd as that wasn’t what we were there for.. I mean who wants to be hungover when you’re at one of the Wonders of the World!?
In the end we got the trip for $90 USD per person which included transport to Halong Bay, 2x lunch, 1x dinner, 1x breakfast with the company Fantasea and we were very happy with our decision. This is a budget way to visit Halong Bay but by paying a bit more money we went with a really good company and had a great experience.
We got picked up from Hanoi at 8:30am (we were told 8:00am but of course we’re on Asia time now!) and arrived at the pier at 12:30 where we were taken to a small boat which then took us to our big boat.
Once on board we checked into our rooms which were really nice considering what we paid and it was so great to have a view of the ocean. We had a look on the top deck which was gorgeous and then had a lunch which was amazing as were all of the meals on this trip.
Note – You don’t have to do Halong Bay as a boat cruise. These days it’s popular to visit yourself and you can easily stay for 2 days in Halong Bay on the island of Cat Ba.
When we arrived at the pier it was a little rainy and knowing that Halong Bay is 50% rain and cloud and 50% sun throughout the year I was hoping things would change and luckily within a few minutes of us sailing the skies turned blue and the weather was gorgeous!
What I loved and didn’t expect is that after a very short time from leaving the harbour you are now IN Halong Bay with all the beautiful limestone island mountains surrounding the boat and the city and port seem like a lifetime away (if only really 15 minutes away).
The afternoon consisted of taking pictures and enjoying the view from the deck, getting off the boat to explore some caves which were pretty impressive and then it was time for some kayaking. I’m really not the best kayaker but the water was calm and between us we managed to get around and we ended by seeing a gorgeous sunset from our Kayak!
It was dark by 6pm so we had a beer on the top deck which are an additional charge and enjoyed the complete serenity of this place, chatted to our follow passengers, had another huge meal (this company served so much food but we weren’t complaining!) and then had an early night.
The sun was due to rise at 5:30am, Steph and I decided to get up at 5:30am (the only ones on our boat to get up) and head to the top deck. Unfortunately it was really cloudy so we didn’t see the sun actually rise but it was beautiful to see the sky get lighter and lighter and see the islands appearing in the distance and again it was so lovely and quiet and it gave us time to appreciate this Wonder of the World even more!
After breakfast we got off at an island and walked the many steps to the top. By now it had started raining and this is where all the boats stop off in the morning so it was very busy. We saw a good view of the islands and boats below and got the chance to swim if we wanted to and it was then time to start the journey back to the harbour and have lunch a long the way.
Related Post: 5 Awesome Places Not to Miss When Visiting Vietnam!
We got off the boat at about 12:00, got back into the minivan and were back in Hanoi by 4:30pm ready to get our night bus down to Hue and getting the night bus was another reason we wanted to get up so early that morning hoping by the evening we would be tired and sleep well on the bus.. which kind of worked!
The trip to Halong Bay was really incredible! I’m so glad I got to see my third Natural Wonder of the World in this way with a great boat company and a great friend.
You really have to see this place with your own eyes to appreciate its pure beauty and just how majestic it really is!
If you want to pre book a tour around Halong Bay before getting to Hanoi especially if you are tight on time, have a look into these options: