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Vietnam forum

Overnight cruising in Ha Long Bay to be banned ... soon

Posted by somtam2000 on 11/4/2016 at 00:54 admin

Well the title says it all. Over the weekend Thnh Nien News reported that passenger ships will soon be banned from staying overnight in Ha Long and Bai Tu Long bays.

They haven't said when this would happen and, looking at some some of the boats, this is probably a good idea. but expect the screams from the cruising industry to be loud and strong.

The full story is here.

#1 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,045
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Posted by somtam2000 on 12/4/2016 at 00:28 admin

From this week's newsletter:

"Over the weekend news broke that Vietnamese officials in the northern province of Quang Ninh, home to Ha Long Bay, are planning to ban passenger boats from staying overnight on the bay, suggesting that in the future, only daytime travel will be allowed in the bay.

The howls of the 553 (yes, five hundred and fifty three) boats that operate on the bay will undoubtably be matched only by the cheers of the dozens of hotel operators in Ha Long City who stand to reap a massive windfall should the banning truly come to pass.

According to Thanh Nien News, no clear reasoning was given for the ban other than that it will "help enhance tourism service quality and safety". There is no denying the Ha Long cruise scene has issues - boats sink and breakdown, are often of poor quality, rip-offs are common, many leak oil and so on -- it's a bit of a dog's breakfast really.

And also, 553 boats is a hell of a lot of boats -- according to Thanh Nien, 202 of these dock overnight between Bai Tu Long and Ha Long Bays -- I don't remember a Vietnam tourism poster that ever really adequately represented my mental image of that.

But, it isn't clear how banning the overnight boats is actually going to address, well, anything. It will however greatly inconvenience travellers as if you need to go back and forward from Ha Long City each day, you'll be wasting a good chunk of time, and, well Ha Long City is a bit of a dump.

Many visitors, though admittedly skewed towards the higher end, highlight an overnight cruise as being one of the most memorable moments of their entire trip to Vietnam -- and now the authorities are suggesting you swap your romantic floating evening for a mini-hotel on the mainland. Ahhh no thanks.

Vietnam often bemoans its struggle to attract return visitors and here it is actively trying to kneecap one of the very reasons so many go in the first place.

Better regulate and limit the existing boats? Absolutely. Ban overnight trips? Just no.

Have you done an overnight trip on Ha Long Bay? Would you have still visited if you could only do a day trip?"

#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,045
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Posted by Annielay on 12/4/2016 at 02:38

Gosh I hope that the ban on overnight stays on boats in Ha Long Bay doesn't actually happen! I have just this minute booked a 2 night trip at the end of May and am really looking forward to it. Surely they can put into place some other sort of tourism accountability other than punishing the people who pay money to keep the industry florishing. I certainly wouldn't go if I couldn't stay on the boat. Isn't that the whole idea of the cruise anyway?

#3 Annielay has been a member since 23/6/2014. Posts: 17

Posted by Marleneann43 on 12/4/2016 at 06:01

We did a 2 night Halong Bay tour,and loved it, no way would I travel all that way to just spend a couple of hours on thebBay so NO would not do it

#4 Marleneann43 has been a member since 12/4/2016. Posts: 1

Posted by MelbourneMuzza on 12/4/2016 at 07:27

An opposing point of veiw......I went for the One Day Boat Ride.

From Hanoi, The bus picks you up at your hotel, takes you to the wharf (2 hours) Maybe a wait of 1/2 hour. A connecting fast boat picks you up and takes you to Cat Ba Island ( 1 Hour) . An awaiting bus takes you to to town ( 1 hour)

Very , very easy. All inclusive price. $20usd

I had a day trip, Bus from your hotel to the boat, $16USD for the whole day

On the boat all day , includes a visit and climb to monkey island, A kayak, A very good lunch, A swim and back to the harbour at 1750. Between those, a good chug around the islands.

The accommodation and meals and the town were varied, A good slow pace, a good destination, the boiat and staff excellent. MAKE SURE YOUR BOAT HAS SEATS ON TOP. Thang Loi was my boat, as I said, excellent Boat and crew

Next day a motor bike ride around the island $5USD

Next day a connecting Bus/Boat/Bus to Ninh Binh (Same price as to Hanoi.) $20USD

Excellent value and an excellent usage of time.

For Me, Far better time than two days on a boat

#5 MelbourneMuzza has been a member since 19/3/2016. Posts: 8

Posted by Christinegail on 12/4/2016 at 08:00

I went to halong bay last year in May, stayed 1 night. It's a long drive from Hanoi. Would I go if I could not stay on a boat on the bay. One simple word answers that question no. We had a great time on board, the boat was awesome, food the best, as well as all the planned activities. The weather was perfect and a wonderful evening to relax and get to know the other passengers. Several rules have to be followed by the boat operators. Swimming only at a certain time, the boat has to anchor by a certain time, it can only anchor where it's told and no it was not crowded with boats when I went. In fact there were not that many. It was beautiful. Maybe instead of cancelling overnight trips they should do safety checks on the boats. Set a standard that each boat must maintain. I've heard comments about all the garbage as well but where we travelled we never saw any. A great time was had by all.

#6 Christinegail has been a member since 12/11/2015. Posts: 1

Posted by carpentaria on 12/4/2016 at 09:26

I dont like to make my first post on the forum less than positive but....I met another australain in Hoi An last year who had taken a two night cruise with her husband. He had taken an early dip on thier first morning and she was quite disconcerted to see him come up out of the water with a string of toilet paper drapped over his upper body. That could have something to do with the proposed changes.

#7 carpentaria has been a member since 12/4/2016. Posts: 1

Posted by catepoe on 12/4/2016 at 10:25

Horrible news. To answer your questions: Our 2-night boat trip on Halong Bay was one of the highlights of, not only Vietnam, but our entire four months in Southeast Asia. We would never consider a day trip (3.5 hours bus each way) from Hanoi and shuddered at the proliferation of hotels along the bay. Regulate the number of boats, but banning overnights -- how shortsighted!

#8 catepoe has been a member since 18/10/2013. Location: United States. Posts: 3
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Posted by Maggysan on 13/4/2016 at 04:00

Hi,I was in Vietnam more that 20 years ago and was dreading revisiting Ha Long Bay which, years ago, did not have a flotilla of large boats. It was quiet, serenely beautiful and an unforgettable experience. As we approached the bay three weeks ago I was horrified at what I observed. The inevitable developement was ugly, ill conceived and poorly executed. We were booked on a tour inc an overnight stay with Swan Tours. What could have been a huge mistake turned into a wonderful experience.The boat was amazing in all respects, the only complaint by some was the price of drinks aboard, but then people always like something to moan about. Anchored in a bay with us for the night were two other boats gently bobbing about at a discrete distance. It was quiet and hauntingly beautiful. Perhaps we were lucky?
It would be unfair if other people were not able to participate in this the nocturnal wonder. Maybe the authorities should be more stringent with the minimum standards required for boats which would immediately eliminate many of the boats and also increase safety. Restricting the number of boats allowed in the bay at any one time could be another possibility. This seems to work very well in the Galápagos Islands, reading their operational strategies might generate new thinking re Ha Long Bay!!

#9 Maggysan has been a member since 15/9/2015. Posts: 1

Posted by Robprrtt on 13/4/2016 at 20:57

OMG, I am planning a trip to Halong next month with my wife. She really love overnight in Halong's cruise, we find and read a lot of information about cruise in Halong as well.
So sad!

#10 Robprrtt has been a member since 28/3/2016. Posts: 17

Posted by yeddich on 18/4/2016 at 20:49

I don't know if I would have gone on a tour, if it was a day trip-were it the only option at the time (December 2009), perhaps. Much of the allure was the thought of a comfortable bed in a gently rolling ship that lulled you to sleep. Having said that, there are likely things I would have missed if I hadn't had several days with which to explore the caves, take a kayak trip, visit the small island with the temple at the top. The meals were excellent, the company superb, the staff above and beyond any expectations. Are those things that could not be experienced in a full day? It was the experience on the boat sleeping in comfy beds, breakfast on the veranda, spending time with new acquaintances, and making friends with the ship staff that made it a memorable experience for me. Restrict the number of boats. Or maybe the hoteliers have the most money and the meanest attorneys...

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Posted by InTheKnow on 5/5/2016 at 21:44

This is what's happening:

1. The government actively looks out for overnight boat health and safety issues.
2. It issues a policy that there will be no overnight cruises.
3. The current boat operators go out of business.
4. The government creates a health and safety 'standard'.
5. One operator (government favoured and connected) is granted exclusive rights to overnight tours.
6. Tours restart in the future, but via one company with a monopoly.

The hotel developers (government connected) and people trying to promote attractions to the East of Halong (over the bridge) think they will win. The government wins. The exclusive tour operator wins. That's how it goes.

The current road infrastructure is NOT viable for tourists to make day trips from Ha Noi; this includes the new freeway to the east of Ha Noi. The road network needs at least another 3-4 years of work before it's even a possibility. Currently it can take from 3.5 to 4 hours on a bad day for a one-way trip.

#12 InTheKnow has been a member since 5/5/2016. Posts: 1

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