Remember my post on the Top 5 Things To Do in Hanoi? I mentioned in number 5 how going for a cruise on Ha Long Bay is one of the most common day trip / excursions to take whilst in Hanoi, Vietnam. I've never been on a cruise, unless you count my fjord cruise ride experience with Norway in A Nutshell, this was my first time sleeping on a bed in a boat. Of course, I was a bundle of excitement despite the fact that we had to wake up at 6, leave the hotel by 7.30am, and got news from the hotel staff that it has been rather stormy in Ha Long Bay.
Booking the Tour was really easy because our hotel offered several packages we could choose from (you can also find these packages online). We left the hotel around 7.30am in the morning on a bus with about 15 other people, and after a 4-hour drive, got to the port. On our way there, we passed by a shop selling all sorts of souvenirs, more importantly, there were selling hand woven cloth pictures done by the death and mute. This was a company that only hired these people so as to create jobs for them. Since I didn't have that much money, I bought a few small Cotton string woven ones instead of those done in Silk.
Eventually, we reached the port, and took a small boat to our cruise. Although the cruise ship was smaller than I had expected, our cruise was the most luxurious one because it was a partnership between 2 different companies. After getting our rooms, J and I immediately headed up to the deck to take some pictures before lunch was served. Thankfully, the weather was great, and the view was just stunning. It is no wonder Ha Long Bay is such a tourist favourite.
I was pleasantly surprised by all the various activities the tour had despite being only a short 2 day 1 night (technically it was only 1 day since we arrived on the boat in the afternoon and left then next afternoon) cruise. Our first island stop was this place called Ti Top Island where we could either climb up a small hill to get an awesome view of Ha Long Bay or have a swim in the waters by the beach. The water was actually rather dirty in my opinion, so I opted for the view instead. Although the steep stone steps were a challenge for my short legs, the view up on the top was INCREDIBLE.
After getting back from Ti Top Island, we went back on the boat to change and freshen up and had a short cooking class! It wasn't much of a Cooking Class than it was a cooking demonstration. But we did get a chance to roll our own Vietnamese Spring Rolls and then have them afterwards, so that was awesome!
In the evening, we had a short Kayaking Session where we could kayak around Ha Long Bay and then to a Pearl Farm there were loads of lovely pearl jewellery at the pearl farm, but sadly as I was kayaking on what seemed to be a rather unstable kayak, I left my valuables on the boat and so, there was no chance of me getting any pearl souvenirs. It was interesting to walk around the farm and see how they harvested the pearls, although I wished there was some sort of introduction or a tour.
Eventually, we headed back on the boat for dinner and spent the night on the deck attempting to count the stars of spot the lights from other cruise ships out on the bay.
Oh and Fun Fact: Our guide informed us that the reason why Ha Long Bay has this individual mountain like structure was because they were made out of limestone and got eroded over the years and are still being eroded slowly to this day! What an impressive natural phenomenon. I'm always impressed when I find out how mother nature forms these wonders.
The Ha Long Bay cruise was surprisingly more entertaining that I though it would be. As it wasn't a huge cruise ship, I knew there wouldn't be any of your typical games room or entertainment facilities up on the boat. But the fact that there were a few fun activities planned for us throughout the entire time was great!
There was one thing I wasn't too pleased about though, was that I had an assignment to submit, and despite requesting for cruise with wifi - and we paid more for that, there wasn't any on board. Although the boat had a wifi modem, there was no way any of its guest could connect on to it. So it was incredibly agonising when I had to rush to submit my assignment the next day. Guess I should have thought about that before hand, I mean we're in the middle of a huge bay after all, what signal could there be right?
But judging the cruise for its activities, Ha Long Bay was definitely worth it and I really enjoyed myself!