On the morning of the Ha Long Bay trip, Gillian and I woke up with high expectations of the day ahead. We had been recommended the Ha Long Bay trip by a number of people because of its outstanding beauty and the number of different options of the trip available. We decided to go for the two day, one night option as this would mean that we would get to sleep on the boat overnight in Ha Long Bay.
We were picked up from our hotel at eight o’clock in the morning to make the three and a half hour commute to the bay. However, half an hour before arriving at the bay we were informed by our guide that due to a storm coming in that we would not be able to stay on the boat overnight and that for the four hour day-trip, we would still pay half price or the other option was to pay only $15 to get the bus straight back to Hanoi, meaning spending $15 to sit on a bus for 7/8 hours, ending up back where we started. Now I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t like being told that I am not getting what I paid for and being forced to pay for something else that I didn’t want. The other twenty or so people on the bus weren’t too happy either and gave the tour guide a very hard time. However, we all ended up doing the day trip as paying just to go straight back on the bus wasn’t really an option for anyone.
On arrival at the bay we were ferried over to the boat that would be taking us out to the bay. The boat was somewhat different from the pictures in the brochure that we had been shown. Imagine going to buy a brand new car and you turn up and its ten years old with two flat tires and a cracked windscreen, a bit like that. Anyway as the boat made its way out to the bay we were blown away by its beauty! The massive limestone pillars rise from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin and are covered in a sea of greenery. It was slightly overcast on the day which just added to the experience. The atmosphere was eerie as the cloud lingered over the pillars and the waters were calm. We arrived at the biggest limestone pillar and at this cave we could go inside and see the massive stalagmites and stalactites which is well worth seeing.
After this we boarded the boat again and went to visit a floating village. Now this is just as it sound. Families have their whole live on these villages. They sleep and eat out in these villages and the only way the make money is catching fish to sell to the mainland. We were lucky enough to get off the boat at this point and kayak round the village and explore even more of the bay. After this we returned to the main boat where we were then directed back to the harbour and we returned to Hanoi.
For anyone going to Hanoi I would recommend going and seeing Ha Long Bay. Due to its natural beauty, it has been recognised as a world heritage sight and I assure you, when you see it, you won’t disagree. However, I would not recommend using ‘Golden Bay Boat Tours’ as from speaking to other travelers, we weren’t the only ones who have had a bad experience with this company.