To say that I'm overwhelmed by the options for a Halong Bay junk boat trip is an understatement! My two basic questions are (1) what should I expect weatherwise in mid to late March? and (2) how many days do you recommend - 2D/1N or 3D/2N? I am leaning towards the longer trip but don't want to be out there too long if the weather isn't good. Oh, one more thing - is around $250 a reasonable price to pay for a 3D/2N trip on a mid-range junk? Thank you so much for any opinions.
#1 kterrell has been a member since 31/12/2009. Posts: 1
Seems that for $250 you should be looking in the high end range. I was there in early March last year and it was foggy and a little cool on the Bay. I'm sure the place is amazing with clear skies but the fog is not as bad as it sounds - it gives a kind of haunting effect to the cliffs - almost can feel like being on another planet when you see these cliffs rising out of the fog with the deep green water beneath. As for time, I really wouldn't want to spend more than a day and night on the boat. Honestly, the scenery is great but it gets boring, and you have to go by the boat's program as far as eating and such. Beer and other drinks are also ridiculously expensive on the boats.
If I were you I'd try to spend a night or two at Cat Ba Island... There you can have the freedom to motorbike or hike around the national parks and coastline, see picturesque little bays dotted with fishing boats, and enjoy some amazing seafood for cheap. When I did Ha Long I did it independently - took a bus from Hanoi (Gia Lam Station) to Ha Long City, spent a night there and booked a one-way on a nice junk through a guesthouse. Didn't get the experience of sleeping on the boat, but felt like I got everything else out of it because basically I was on the tour boat for the whole day as it cruised the bay and stopped at caves and such, but then once we got to Cat Ba I had my freedom to stay there as long as I liked. Then I just did the same thing on the way back - it was easy, way cheaper than booking a tour and I think I got just as much, if not more, out of the experience than if I had booked a whole package tour. That said, if you do go with the package tour try to get one that includes an overnight on Cat Ba. Good luck.