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Halong bay - is 1 night enough?

  • mscmark

    Joined Travelfish
    12th August, 2009
    Posts: 8

    We're wondering if 1 night is enough for Halong bay. Any idea?

    Thank you.

    Mark

    #1 Posted: 13/8/2009 - 14:26

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  • tingers

    Joined Travelfish
    9th April, 2009
    Posts: 36

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    2 nights is great, if you have the time... but you'll have a nice time on an overnight trip. Definitely don't bother with a day trip - Ha Long and back in one day = 4 hours on the water and around 8 hours driving.

    #2 Posted: 17/8/2009 - 13:39

  • fivesilver

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd August, 2008
    Posts: 39
    Total reviews: 7

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    Depending on whopse tour you take, 5 minutes could be enough. ^__^

    But seriously, we did one night and found it was plenty. I agree with tingers that you shouldn't bother with a one-day tour. We went from Cat Ba, where all the day trips were back in the harbour by 5pm. Halong - and Lan Ha - was definitely at its most beautiful between 4pm and sunset, when the evening light made a huge difference.

    #3 Posted: 17/8/2009 - 14:21

  • BruceMoon

    Click here to learn more about BruceMoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    Mark

    As tingers suggests, it's around 4 hours from HaNoi to Halong boat harbour.

    Elsewhere on Travelfish, you'll see that many boats (and I mean many) leave Halong boat harbour, travel to the 'caves' area, and moor there for the night. There are boats everywhere, and noise a plenty. If this is Ok for you, that's cool. Other options go further away (to quiet areas) but cost more.

    Cheers

    #4 Posted: 17/8/2009 - 14:23

  • tingers

    Joined Travelfish
    9th April, 2009
    Posts: 36

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    Well said fivesilver.... really pays to do a bit of research for your Ha Long trip, it's definitely a case of get-what-you-pay-for out there! Pay peanuts, get monkeys!

    #5 Posted: 17/8/2009 - 15:57

  • mscmark

    Joined Travelfish
    12th August, 2009
    Posts: 8

    Hi,

    Thank you all for your advices which are very helpful.

    We've never thought of taking just a day trip as we know the bay is well worth more than that.

    Well, now we are considering between booking a tour once we arrive in Hanoi or just take a bus/train to Haiphong and stick to the island instead of the touristy caves.

    And one more time we need your advices.

    Thank you.

    Mark

    #6 Posted: 18/8/2009 - 09:43

  • SteinOfOran-
    ge

    Joined Travelfish
    14th March, 2007
    Location United States
    Posts: 24

    I did two nights, one on the ship and one on a remote isalnd. One is enought IMO. I would say this, put your trip in the middle of your stay in Ha noi. Ha noi is the jumping point for Sa pa and Ha Long. Say this: 2 nights Hanoi, One Night Halong, 2 Nights Hanoi..... is perfect.

    #7 Posted: 18/8/2009 - 11:36

  • BruceMoon

    Click here to learn more about BruceMoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    Mark

    I'd suggest you might like to chase up some of the contributions here on Travelfish regarding experiences, etc., for Halong. There's great appeal for being on a boat with good company, in the middle of nowhere, and watching the moonlight 'show' the karst scenery. And, being in the right place on the 'island' will also have its appeal. But, there's a heap of crap on offer so it's good to get the lowdown first.

    Cheers

    #8 Posted: 18/8/2009 - 12:44

  • rebeccafarr-
    ent

    Joined Travelfish
    2nd May, 2009
    Posts: 37

    Hi,

    The husband and I booked the Pinta Gold before we left home as we wanted to save time when we arrived. We stayed just 1 night aboard the boat and found it to be enough. We Amazing Cave was extremely crowded but we loved kayaking in the morning to the hidden lagoons as it seemed that we had them to ourselves.

    The boat moored at a very quiet firth which was lovely.

    We'd definitely recommend Columbus to everyone.

    Rebecca

    #9 Posted: 18/8/2009 - 16:33

  • mscmark

    Joined Travelfish
    12th August, 2009
    Posts: 8

    Rebecca,

    Thanks a lot. Actually choosing the right junk in Halong bay is probably the most difficult problem.

    Mark

    #10 Posted: 19/8/2009 - 09:47

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  • BruceMoon

    Click here to learn more about BruceMoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    Mark

    What you observe is true. There are so many options, and all too many are less than desirable.

    I've elsewhere written on Travelfish about Columbus, and many have confirmed my faith in the company.

    Try looking at their website - http://columbuscruise.com/ - and look at their current specials. This company runs the boats (ie isn't an agent selling someone else's product).

    Cheers

    #11 Posted: 19/8/2009 - 10:02

  • mscmark

    Joined Travelfish
    12th August, 2009
    Posts: 8

    Hi BruceMoon,

    Thank you for your advice. Will post back soon.

    Mark

    #12 Posted: 20/8/2009 - 12:09

  • kiwibc

    Joined Travelfish
    21st June, 2009
    Posts: 18

    We went there a couple of months ago for a 2 days/one night and found the area itself to be underwhelming. It's jammed full of tourists, the water was quite polluted in areas we swam at and I've never seen so many boats in one area in my life. However, we did have a ball as the boat we were on was great (food and accomodation was first class), the people we were with were fun and we had a game of beach volley ball with the crew in the water/on the beach for a couple of hours which was class! But take the same boat and people and put it anywhere else on the vietnam coast and we wouldn't have been missing much, except several hundred other tourists!

    #13 Posted: 21/8/2009 - 19:49

  • BruceMoon

    Click here to learn more about BruceMoon
    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    kiwibc

    You've described in detail what I briefly summarised at post #4, above.

    If you ever have the opportunity, revisit Halong Bay and make sure you steer away from the maddening - and deafening - crowd on el cheapo tours.

    I suggest you will be amply rewarded by the experience.

    Cheers

    #14 Posted: 21/8/2009 - 19:57

  • rebeccafarr-
    ent

    Joined Travelfish
    2nd May, 2009
    Posts: 37

    Well, it's true that the local authorities need to do something to clean up the water, but we were considered ourselves to be lucky as the boat moored at a place where the water was warmer and cleaner than expected. Given the bloody hot weather, the cooling swim was an instant hit with us.

    Rebecca

    #15 Posted: 31/8/2009 - 14:04

  • SteinOfOran-
    ge

    Joined Travelfish
    14th March, 2007
    Location United States
    Posts: 24

    I for one live for jumping in any body of water I can; south China Sea, a ice cold Alaskan river, the lakes of los Andes, or wherever... but when I saw the quality of the water in Halong Bay, my feet never left the boat deck. Disgusting is being kind. Only insane people would jump into it, and we had some insane people on board = )

    #16 Posted: 31/8/2009 - 15:39

  • rebeccafarr-
    ent

    Joined Travelfish
    2nd May, 2009
    Posts: 37

    SteinOfOrange,

    Yep, we did saw garbage on this forum, not just in Halong bay.

    Rebecca

    #17 Posted: 31/8/2009 - 16:27

  • ecurry33

    Joined Travelfish
    28th August, 2009
    Posts: 12

    I'll be there on Christmas Eve but have not booked a boat yet.
    Can anyone suggest beaches/caves to avoid?
    Can anyone suggest boats with one night itinerary that gets away from the worst of the crowds?
    thanks all,
    heading back to VN for trip #5 since 1992 - but never been to Halong

    #18 Posted: 1/9/2009 - 03:13

  • lexkssnbrg

    Joined Travelfish
    5th May, 2009
    Posts: 53

    Ecurry33,

    From what we've just experienced, one night in Halong bay is just perfect.

    My girlfriend and I booked thru http://www.columbuscruise.com/ and would recommend the company to everyone without hesitation. The trip was well organized, food was excellent and the guide very helpful. Our sleep wasn't interupted as our boat moored at a very quiet place while many of the others dropping anchor together.

    Lex

    #19 Posted: 1/9/2009 - 10:39

  • BruceMoon

    Click here to learn more about BruceMoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    Lex

    I'm glad you had a great time with Columbus. Compared to what else is on offer, Columbus wins hands down. I think SteinOfOrange - post #16 - must have used a poor provider.

    I always want to rave how good Columbus are compared to others, but don't want to over do it.

    Cheers

    #20 Posted: 1/9/2009 - 14:35

  • ecurry33

    Joined Travelfish
    28th August, 2009
    Posts: 12

    thanks Lex,
    funny story - I went to VN for the first time in 1992 because I saw an amazing hoto of a junk on Halong Bay on the cover of Conde Nast's January 1992 issue of Traveler magazine. i did not know whre it was at first but thought "I want to go there".

    Well sure enough I got to VN for Christmas/New Year's 1992/93 - but I did not get to Halopng Bay. I've been back to VN 3 more times since then - but this will be my first trip to Halong. I wish I had gone before when it clearly would have been less crowded. The Columbia Cruises look inviting and I will explore further.

    many thanks - EC

    #21 Posted: 1/9/2009 - 18:55

  • koolaukid

    Joined Travelfish
    15th March, 2009
    Posts: 2

    Visited Halong last year. At the last moment, we changed from a one day trip to an overnight. While pleased at the overnight, we wished for more and would do at least two nights given the chance. The one night runs a regular route and there are a fair number of other boats doing the same thing. Overnight in a protected bay with about 6 other junks (low season). The two night goes to more remote places much less trafficked. I highly recommend spending two nights on the boat. One thing, negotiate the fare directly with the boat at the pier, don't go through an intermediaries.
    Scott

    #22 Posted: 2/9/2009 - 02:48

  • lexkssnbrg

    Joined Travelfish
    5th May, 2009
    Posts: 53

    Scott,

    I don't totally know what your experience was in Halong bay but just definitely and confidently recommend everyone to book one of the boats in advance so as to have more time for other activities.

    Lex

    #23 Posted: 9/9/2009 - 17:02

  • koolaukid

    Joined Travelfish
    15th March, 2009
    Posts: 2

    Lex,
    You are probably right although I know tourism in Asia is slow and has been for the last couple of years. We were there in June and there were lots of boats available, the one we took ended up consolidating passengers from other boats in order to achieve 3/4 full. Also, when looking into fares it became apparent that we go much better quotes when dealing with the boats directly rather than agents or other intermediaries. Nonetheless I understand the inconvenience and potential problems with waiting until the last minute. However I almost always do so with little or no problems.
    Scott

    #24 Posted: 9/9/2009 - 23:13

  • BruceMoon

    Click here to learn more about BruceMoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    Scott/Lex/EC

    The sheer number of boats operating is why I made the comment in post #14 "make sure you steer away from the maddening - and deafening - crowd on el cheapo tours.

    These el cheapo tour boats all congregate in the Dao Titop area (near the caves). The collective noise is pervasive, and the rubbish in the water appalling.

    The reason I (and others) advocate www.columbuscruise.com is that they moor in a place many kilometres away. There, the only noise (other than the boat) is from the natural environment itself.

    www.columbuscruise.com is not cheap, and while you may be able to secure a berth if you turned up at Halong wharf, I doubt you'd get a discount. Reason? Coz the person who gives the discount works in their office in HaNoi.

    So, if quality is what you are after, don't bugger around, just book your berth/s. My suggestion is to email www.columbuscruise.com first, advise the dates you want to travel and indicate that you will pay your money when in HaNoi. Leaving the booking to when you are in HaNoi may give you a capacity to bargain a little. And, if the weather looks like it may be foul, it also offers scope to change your mind.

    Cheers

    #25 Posted: 10/9/2009 - 06:47

  • lexkssnbrg

    Joined Travelfish
    5th May, 2009
    Posts: 53

    Well, it's definitely the issue of 'you get what you pay for' then.

    Regarding concerns about 'to book or not to book', it much depends on the time you're going to Vietnam. It should be ok to book tours once you arrive in the low season, but this doesn't work in the peak time.

    #26 Posted: 14/9/2009 - 10:23

  • CoCo09

    Joined Travelfish
    16th September, 2009
    Posts: 13

    Hi

    Some good information above, I will take a trip on Columbus I think. Can anyone tell me the following

    1) Where do I book a trip while in Hanoi to get the best deal?
    2) What is the difference (apart from price) between the 3 boats they offer, PINTA GOLD CRUISER, PINTA CRUISER and NINA CRUISER?

    Many thanks.

    #27 Posted: 16/9/2009 - 21:01

  • ecurry33

    Joined Travelfish
    28th August, 2009
    Posts: 12

    Hi - the Nina Cruiser has one or two rooms.
    The Pinta Goldand Pinta Cruiser are similae - one is slightly bigger, one is slightlynewer - perhpas ab it more "upscale".

    the Pinta cruiser has one triple cabin. all others are doubles.

    i booked more than 3 months in advance through their website and received a 15% discount.

    #28 Posted: 16/9/2009 - 21:27

  • StephanieM

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd July, 2009
    Posts: 6

    We went to HaLong in April and booked our tour with Happy Luan (luan@happyluan.com).
    She put us on a tour with http://www.ecofriendlyvietnam.com and we had a blast ... feeling we were ALONE in the HaLong bay (except when we went the Kayak tour and discovered the huge boats and floats of kayakers).
    We had a small junk suitable for 6 peoples I think. Luan made sure we were the only ones on board (2 adults, 2 toddlers and 1 baby). The boat was clean enough (no spotless but still acceptable). Food was simple but excellent. The captain and his mate did not speak english at all and we have refused the guide for our time on the boat but did not regret it. We might not know all the details and names but just enjoyed the spectacular views and quietness of the area.
    One night was enough for us but bc we continued the trip to the "inland HaLong bay". Not as splendid as the real one or as breathtaking as in Yangshuo in China but still amazing.
    I would recommand to use Happy Luan as she was reliable, honest and delivered things at a price that was reasonnable. She booked airport transfers, hotel nights, Hanoi-CatBa transfers, HaLong-TamCoc transfers, one guide for 2 days and our fantastic junk boat tour. Everything went well, smoothly and nicely ... despite rainy weather and early morning departures.

    #29 Posted: 18/9/2009 - 21:33

  • buecax

    Joined Travelfish
    15th July, 2009
    Posts: 44

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    one night is more than enough when they do a karaoke on board ;-)

    which happened to me with christina tours.

    #30 Posted: 20/9/2009 - 15:01

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