Saturday, July 15, 2017

A Romantic Overnight Cruise along Ha Long Bay, Vietnam


It was a year ago when me and my buddy booked for a day trip on the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay in the northern part of Vietnam. It was all set until a storm came the day before; it made us cancel the trip. It was unfortunate, but it paved the way for a better one, an overnight cruise that is.

Halong Bay Overnight Cruise
Ha Long Bay during lean season
Our Same Same Summer Trip 2017 was nearing its end and we were saving the best for last, an overnight Ha Long Bay Overnight Cruise.

We had two months of backpacking around some key cities in Southeast Asia so we planned our itineraries carefully to save time and money for the trip. Every detail must be looked upon 'coz we only have a certain budget for the whole trip. After exploring Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia, we hopped around to some key destinations in Vietnam for three weeks, coming from the southern part going up to the north.


We booked our stay on a boutique hostel at Hoan Kiem District in Hanoi before we even looked for our options on the cruise (because we needed to put our hotel details for the pick-up). After which, we scored a great deal from Klook App for the overnight cruise complete with hotel transfers, onboard meals and entrance fees to all activities. 

Booking via Klook App was made easier by the fact that I already have a registered account. All my details were saved which lets me save so much time when booking. I just have to key in the activities they have in Hanoi/Ha Long Bay and I was given all the things I need to know about the tour. I booked the Halong Bay 2D1N Discovery Cruise (Deluxe) at once (making sure that we’re certain about the dates of the tour) and a confirmation message was sent to my email right away. I got the official voucher the day after.

Halong Bay Overnight Cruise
Towering limestone rocks
Moving on, the mini bus arrived on schedule and we just showed the voucher from my smart phone (paperless transaction is love). We then went to pick up more joiners and the gracious host gave us an overview of what will happen during the course of the cruise trip which is quite filled given that we're only staying on board for two days. Our guide, Alex, was so enthusiastic that he acknowledged each guest and answered all of our queries afterwards.

We arrived at the port around noontime after a smooth four-hour ride. From there, we took a small boat that brought us to our home ship for two days. It was a bright sunny day and everyone seemed excited.


Halong Bay Overnight Cruise
Cruisin'
We were herded to the dining place at the rear part of the ship where we had a nice view of the limestone formations from the glass windows. A quick overview on the day's activities was told and then cabins were assigned.


The cool wind from the AC greeted us as we opened the door to our deluxe cabin. It wasn't as cramped as I imagined it to be just how like the cabin on our Star Cruises trip last year via SuperStar Gemini. Nonetheless, all the basic needs such as a comfy bed and warm duvet were there. 

Halong Bay Overnight Cruise
Deluxe cabin
I pushed aside the heavy drapes which revealed a window with a great view of the amazing rock formations as we cruised. The room had a side table with complimentary drinking water. We also had our own bathroom that, I must say, is at par with hotel standards. There’s also a separate shower stall with hot and cold shower, a lavatory complete with bathroom amenities and toilet with duvet.


Halong Bay Overnight Cruise
I really love the bathroom!
It was one in the afternoon when we came back again to the dining hall for lunch. Menu for the drinks were handed out and we waited for the food to be served.

The cruise started as we all had a feast on Vietnamese and Western dishes with the towering limestone rocks as the perfect backdrop. And almost every dish, from appetizer down to dessert, was truly remarkable. 



Halong Bay Overnight Cruise
Seafood galore
Halong Bay Overnight Cruise
They also cater to special diet needs such as; vegetarian or low sodium meals
After the very satisfying lunch, we headed towards the top deck and were stunned on the endless rock formations that we're passing by. It was totally different from what I’ve seen in El Nido in the Philippines. There were hundreds or probably thousands of towering limestone rock formations. It felt like we're on a set of a sci-fi movie of some sort. 


Halong Bay Overnight Cruise
We spent most of the time on the top deck of the cruise ship
After an hour, we arrived on our first destination.

We were transported via a small boat to Bo Hon Island. In exploring the main attraction, which is the Luon Cave, guests do have an option to either take the bamboo boats or kayak. We chose the former so we could enjoy the ride more with the help of a boatman.

Halong Bay Overnight Cruise
Breathtaking view all day
We entered the arc-shaped entrance that led us to the lagoon. The rock cliffs seemed to have encircled the whole area making it look like a secret lagoon. We spent a good thirty minutes there, enjoying the serene atmosphere inside.

We emerged back to the docking area and hopped on to our small boat for our next stop.


Halong Bay Overnight Cruise
Luon Cave
Ti Top Island is famous for Ha Long Bay daytrippers because of its pocket beach which was flocked by sun worshippers. Swimming is not common in Ha Long Bay so this is the perfect place for those who want to take a dip into the warm water of the bay. Me and my buddy didn't have the urge to swim and decided to hike up to the viewpoint, a weird decision for us, I know. Haha.


Halong Bay Overnight Cruise
Ti Top Beach
Climbing up was a bit of a challenge for us ‘coz we are not into hiking and stuff. So we had to rest every chance we had until we reached a certain viewing deck where we had a great view of the bay and the amazing rock islands. 



We then decided to just stop there and relish that moment rather than pushing our lazy bones to the top.

Halong Bay Overnight Cruise
The view from Ti Top Island
After the one and a half hours of leisure stay, the group were herded back to the ship where a lovely treat of afternoon tea was waiting for us at the top deck.

We enjoyed some fresh fruits plus tea (coffee for my buddy) as the sky showed off with fiery red and orange hues. The sun was slowly dipping into the horizon and all of us were enjoying this great view while anchored on our home at the bay for the night.

Halong Bay Overnight Cruise
The best sunset I've seen in the whole of Vietnam
Dinner was great as we had, again, a feast on Vietnamese food plus Western dishes. We made friends with some of the guests which made mealtimes more fun as we shared travel stories and whatnots.

We lounged afterwards at the top deck while some went on with the scheduled night fishing. We couldn’t miss our nightly beer sesh that’s why.



Halong Bay Overnight Cruise
Ha Long Bay at dusk
We had a very early call time for breakfast the next morning as we had more activities in store for us. The buffet spread at the dining hall was filled with local and international breakie favorites. I sampled the noodle soup while my buddy hoarded some crunchy bacon strips. Coffee, juice and tea were also included.


Halong Bay Overnight Cruise
Vietnamese noodle soup for breakfast
After the satisfying breakfast, we were brought to the sentry of Surprise Cave. I’m not a fan of caves but my buddy seemed to be excited for the trip.

Surprising Cave (Sung Sot Cave) is considered to be the most outstanding cave in the whole of Ha Long Bay. Located in Bo Hon Island, the cave is divided into two main chambers and we needed to climb up some steep stones to get into the first one.

Halong Bay Overnight Cruise
Surprising Cave
Thousands of stalactites and stalagmites were formed over the past centuries and depending on your imagination and creativity, these formations resemble different figures and shapes that are wittily pointed out by the guide.

Halong Bay Overnight Cruise
I'm not diggin' the funky lights though
Our last activity before we disembark the ship was a cooking class. Alex taught us how to make and wrap some spring rolls which everyone enjoyed.  It was fun how each guest had its own way of wrapping the ingredients into the fragile rice paper. The fried spring rolls were the appetizer for lunch, our last meal on board.

Halong Bay Overnight Cruise
Cooking class on board the ship
We cruised back again to port and witnessed, for the last time, the beauty of nature in the form of the towering rock formations. The whole trip was made fun with the help of our very enthusiastic guide and new friends we met on the trip. A daytrip wouldn’t be enough and our decision to have an overnight cruise was definitely made us appreciate Ha Long Bay without the rush.







2 comments:

  1. Halong Bay should be done overnight, definitely! Sayang pag daytrip lang.

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    Replies
    1. Yep! Super worth it ang Halong Bay tours pag overnight :)

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