Halong Bay in Vietnam was our last thing-to-do of the first half of our travel year. It was one of the first places we put on our “must see” list early on in our planning stages and it did not disappoint. It really was breathtaking. We feel so so lucky to have been able to see it.
We partnered with Bhaya Cruises and we loved every minute of our experience and night on board their Bhaya Classic boat. We chose to do their Bhaya Classic 2 day, 1 night package as it covered almost everything we wanted to do, but stayed in our budget range. This package usually costs around $600 for a night on board for two adults, two children and one infant. This includes two cabins (plus cot), lunch, dinner, mini breakfast, brunch, tea and coffee, kayaking, a visit to Trinh Nu Cave and Beach, cooking demonstrations, night-time squid fishing, Tai Chi at sunrise and a visit to Sung Sot Cave, plus the obvious cruising through the stunning bay scenery. Needless to say we were tired out by the end!
We settled into our cabin happily as you can see! The boat enters the limestone islands of the bay pretty quickly and Tom and I were honestly stunned with how beautiful it is.
We had a blast on the kayaks. What you can’t see in our photos are all the Sea Eagles circling around the islands, absolutely amazing! Bertie fell asleep towards the end of our row around and then had a cuddle with our tour guide. There was a lovely lady from the States who had been teaching in Shanghai (us teachers always find each other!) who took Arthur on his kayak. The kids then adopted her for the rest of trip. It was really nice to have someone new to talk to though after a few months of pretty much just us…!
Our evening on the boat was filled with Happy Hour and Tom reaching the final of a spring roll making competition! The staff offered to make the children dinner early, which meant we could settle them down to bed before enjoying the delicious five course meal together.
Waking up in Halong Bay to this sunrise was the best thing about staying overnight on the boat! That and getting two breakfasts, like hobbits. We had an early breakfast before visiting Sung Sot Cave and then a bigger breakfast while sailing back to shore. Breakfast has got to be our favourite meal so we loved this!
Sung Sot Cave was a big hit with the children. Our guide showed them the rock formations which looked like dragons and told them the legend behind Halong Bay’s name, meaning Descending Dragon.
When we did our research about visiting Halong Bay, we had found some information that said the bay was very polluted, over-filled with tourists and that the cruises were extremely bad for the environment. Lots of sites also recommended visiting the smaller bays nearby. Obviously we can’t vouch for the cruises in the quieter bays, but we were pleasantly surprised with the state of Halong Bay. There are still some pollution issues and, because the boats follow the same routes (to avoid damaging the rest of the bay), you are not alone on the water. However, it is clear that work is being done to improve. Bhaya boats are working to be free of single use plastic where possible: on arrival each guest is issued with a refillable water to use during their stay. We also didn’t feel like the bay was too overcrowded, but we were there during low season. Overall the area is just wonderful to see, we would have stayed longer if possible!
(We received a discount and cabin upgrade as part of a collaboration).