2016 Nov 25
- Type: 6-hour tour
- Done: Weekday morning
- Price: VND 700k (~ USD 30)
- Tip: Get the package with kayaking/bamboo boat included if you’re interested.
I randomly walked across the tour agency office couple days before, so I made the reservation for 6-hour tour with cash (credit card had fees). The lady at the office spoke good English. However, the next day, my travel mate wanted to cancel his reservation so I visited the office again. The lady returned the amount to me after politely asking why. Overall I was happy with the customer service.
Here is the itinerary:
I was picked up from the hotel and got on a bus. The bus made several more stops and we got off at their office near the tourist wharf area.
After filling out a form, a brief introduction from the tour guide, and the customary where-I-am-from among other guests, we headed to the tourist wharf. The terminal building was very modern and had a big convenience store, along with some live music.
After ticket distribution for the sites included in the tour, everyone got on the boat. It appeared small but was surprisingly spacious inside.
Thein Cung Cave
It was a small limestone cave with very colourful lights inside. The tour guide tried to entertain us by pointing to us some interesting shapes here and there. This was one of the most popular sites in Ha Long bay, but to be honest I was disappointed.
Ba Hong Area (Floating Village)
Everyone got back on the boat and we cruised around for a bit. It was cloudy but the sight was still beautiful.
I got off at the floating village and went kayaking. I asked if I could go on the bamboo boat instead, but apparently that was not possible. Kayaking was fun though, albeit wet and a little tiring. The sights were really pretty, and there was a hidden spot that big boats cannot fit through.
I had lost my phone before during kayaking by dropping into the sea, so I left it on the boat (so no picture). Apparently some packages include neither and maybe expensive if you choose to do so on-site.
People who did short tours had left so only half the people remained. Lunch was served on the boat. The table seated 6 people and everyone shared.
Clam soup, which many people seemed a little intimidated by. It was very fresh.
Huge bowl of rice and fried pork with garlic. The pork was my favourite, but a little too salty.
Steamed squid salad
Scrambled egg with tomato
Steamed fish. Most people didn’t know what to do with it, so a German guy and I had it all to ourselves.
It had a small beach and 400+ steps of stairs which led to an observation area. The stairs were very narrow without much railing, so many senior tourists seemed to struggle. The line moved slow, and the view from the top was good but I’m not sure if it was worth the effort. I think you can spend time swimming instead, but the weather was cold that day.
Afterwards we got back to the terminal and got on the bus that dropped people off at various hotels.
The tour guide was friendly and spoke good English. I don’t think there is a good way to visit these sites without going on the tour, so if you’re not doing an overnight cruise this is a great option. The food wasn’t top notch but for the price (other cruises I looked up in Ha Long bay were much more expensive) it was awesome. If you’re budget-conscious, this 30-dollar option is great!