My girlfriend and I are going to Vietnam in a few days and are thinking of checking out Ha Long Bay . As I have been there before on the normal boat cruise before many years ago, we are thinking of doing some sort of adventure tour. So far Ocean Tours and Handspan seem to have what we want however Ocean Tours "Mythical Ocean Style" tours are not available till November and Handspan tours seem quite expensive at $175 and $197 pp for the 2 and 3 day kayaking tours. I was wondering if anyone had any good experience with a 2 or 3 day Ha Long Bay tour which includes some sort of kayaking which was more reasonably priced.
#1 shanghaimike has been a member since 24/9/2010. Posts: 3
I think you get what you pay and about 50$/ day is not that bad since it's included everything.
But you can for sure go for a lower budget - but think about:
- Safety : cheaper boats are not reliable, recall every year the sinking accidents all happen to cheap boats...
- Food: crappy Vietnamese food. You may want to bring some good sandwiches from Hanoi . I dont know, maybe i am too picky about food.
-Guide: do not expect them to speak English.
It's just totally been there done that trip, nothing more.
And if you want to do so, I will recommend to check out Trekking Travel Inc, or other travel agents in the Old Quarter that offer cruise 3 days about 90$ only.
We just returned from ha long bay (currently in Hanoi) you might want to contact Slo Pony Adventures or Blue Swimmer Adventures directly, both are very well reviewed. We used Slo Pony and I can't speak highly enough of them, I know they do overnight cruises but not sure about more than that. You can also do day cruises with kayaking/ rock climbing/ deep water soloing included. Of course it is more expensive if you wish to do a private trip but you could also look at staying in one of the cheap hotels and do day trips (probably more cost effective and if you are not keen on the local food they provide at least you would have more dinner options on land) If you want to pre-book contact them through their website, otherwise when you rock up they have a meeting in the office every night at 6pm (they are above Noble House Backpackers on the main street) during this time they work out what everyone wants to do (the more people the cheaper it is, if 8 or more go you pay the lowest price they have) and if you get there too late for that you can rock up in the morning before 8.30am. We did 2 day trips to different areas and they were both brilliant, we had no issues with the staff, the food or the service. Ours was cruising/kayaking/swimming with transfers (from the office) and if was about $24USD, and goes from around 9am till 5 or 5.30 ish. We had a great time with our 4 days in ha long and I hope whatever you decide that you do to!!!
#3 sems has been a member since 8/8/2010. Posts: 28
Thanks. That might be a good idea. Any recommendations on places to stay on Cat Ba. I can't seem to find anything that sounds appealing (on Trip Advisor) except for Sunrise Resort which is over $125/night.
#4 shanghaimike has been a member since 24/9/2010. Posts: 3
we stayed at the Princes Hotel (just off the main street about $28USD a nite with average breakfast) but as we were only there 2 days ago I can tell you its very quiet and there must be at least 50 hotels on the main street ranging from backpacker to dodgy cheapie to perfectly fine, from about $8 - $30 USD a night. It depends on what your idea of ok is, our hotel was freshly painted on the outside, a little tired on the inside but clean and safe. We booked through Direct Rooms, but you could also try Vietnam Hotel on Line, a lot of times its under Ha Long not Cat Ba, but make sure you check that the hotel is actually on the island and not on the mainland (Ha Long City) If you prefer to look before you buy there are hotel touts all up and down the main drag and I don't think you will have any problem finding somewhere to stay if you just turn up. A word of warning, you may want to check if your hotel of choice has a back-up generator, as they have many black outs and a woman in the hotel just down from ours got stuck in the lift, apparently she screamed for about 20mins, so if it doesn't have one I would take the stairs!!!! Also even if Slo doesn't do what you want they are happy to recommend, other reputable people and are very quick to respond to emails... Have fun
#6 sems has been a member since 8/8/2010. Posts: 28
Also, don't know how you plan on getting to Cat Ba, but if you are leaving from Hanoi the 2 cheapest options are Hanoi-Hai Phong by train and then Hydrofoil to Cat Ba or Hanoi - Cat Ba by bus, mini bus, boat and mini bus, both take around 4 hrs, but if you choose option 2 (we did) it sounds like a nightmare but its very easy, just print out the detailed instructions from Slo Pony website (take them with you) do what it says and you will be fine Get to Cat Ba before they ruin its laid back charm forever with the Amatina (mega) resort (google that and you will see what I mean), I fear there will be no more $2 vodkas at the Bamboo Cafe after that is built
#7 sems has been a member since 8/8/2010. Posts: 28