During our backpacking in Southeast Asia, me and my sister went to Halong Bay -Junk Cruise, it is not exactly what you think it is, like really “Junk”. It is just a term they refer to the cruise or boat types in Halong Bay. In fact, there are many luxurious cruise or junk cruises in Halong Bay. We took the tour from a travel agency in Hanoi just in front of our hotel. The tour was 2 days on boat and one day on Catba Island. The price of the tour varies from the days and packages. During our visit the prices ranges from 75$-150$ per person . No need to book in advance.There are many tour agencies in Hanoi and it is better to book in person sometimes they give discounts and they have deals.
The First day of our Halong Bay Trip:
considered to be a UNESCO Heritage site and one of the New Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Halong means “descending dragon”. From Hanoi we left around 8:45am, took 4 hours to reach the port. Travel time depends on the traffic and there are some stop-over on Hai Duong Province for lunch. We arrived in Bai Chay Port at 12:45pm, waiting for our designated boat.
After checking-in, the boat slowly start cruising and the crew will start serving Vietnamese food your late lunch . The foods are rice and more on vegetables and less on meat and there will be additional charges for soda, drinks and other liquors. The boat itself is nice, decent, clean. You get more than what you paid for.
We were glad that it was sunny during our Halong trip. The clear blue sky makes a great difference on the color of the water in Halong Bay. It is not as blue clear water as in other islands in some Asian countries, it’s more of a greenish-brown color but from afar it appears to be bluish green. There are hundred of junk cruises in Halong Bay. The captain and the crew, they were very accommodating and naturally friendly.
While cruising heading to our next stop, you can admire the the beauty of the cliff limestone and hundreds of scattered uninhibited islands. Past 2pm we docked on an island, climbing more than one hundred steps to visit the Sung Sot Cave which means “Amazing cave “ in English. This is one of the most beautiful caves in Halong Bay and the biggest that covers more or less 30 metres high and a total area of more than 10,000 sq.metres. There is a legend about this cave about a warrior defeating an evil enemy.
The best view of Halong Bay can be seen from the top after the cave tour.
After the cave tour, you can go down and have some snack or refreshments while others would enjoy kayaking for one hour. I tried kayaking while my sister stayed on board and she took nice pictures of me and another traveler; we met on the boat.
After kayaking, past 4pm, we went in Titop Island. Sometimes written as Titov island. This island was given to Gherman Stepanovich Titov, as a token of friendship and to symbolize that Titov was a hero to the Vietnamese people. Restaurants are available in Titop Island ,and you can swim on the small sand bar.
After Titop, we returned to the boat to relax on the deck while watching the sun setting to the horizon. It was such an amazing view with the weather cooperating. I have seen many sunsets in my life and I have considered the one in Halong bay to be one of the nicest sunsets by time , view and picture.The boat anchored at Sung Sot Area for the rest of the evening. Dinner serve at 7pm. For lovers, you can say that cruising is a romantic way to get away for few days from Hanoi.
The rest of the evening, you can mingle or join activities on board such as fishing but not very common to catch a fish, singing in the karaoke, or just simply socializing with others, staying on the deck and watch the moon lit. I stayed on the deck, talking to other travelers, drinking. Just simply having a good night. The bartender serves drinks overnight.
There are party junk cruises and there are more likely for families. So if you want for a party junk cruise, better do some research on which boat to board in. Our boat is more of a young travelers ages 20’s and there are 2 or 4 most likely on the 50’s but its not that party boat. While on the deck we heard the other boat buzzing with music and laughter filled the air. I remembered that one traveler I met on the deck said, we (all of us) wish that we were on that party boat having a fun and enjoying the evening.
Overall, cruising in Halong Bay is one of the adventure or experience not to be missed while visiting Vietnam.